When I got back from Dundee I discovered that Mum had had to pull out of accompanying Dad to an alumni thing at Merton, so Dad suggested I should join him instead. Then I had various reasons to be in Oxford on Tuesday, and sea_bright came to the rescue at the last minute by offering to put me up, so it made sense to stay over.
The alumni weekend was reasonably fun. I enjoyed being back at Merton, and meeting a bunch of Dad's university friends, and hearing the various talks. The speakers were: Mark Haddon (author of The curious incident of the dog in the night-time), who wanted to talk about anything other than the book, and was generallly engaging and witty. Mark Thompson from the BBC, who mainly used his slot to defend the corporation against the charge of 'dumbing down'.
And Lord Wright of Richmond, who spoke about the Middle East, and made lots of interesting and not uncontroversial points. He was pretty anti-Israel (he pretty much referred exclusively to Palestine except when talking about Israeli atrocities), but not in a nasty way, and some of the stuff he said about other countries was pretty novel. The main conclusions seemed to be that the Iraq war is the worst foreign policy mistake in modern history, and that if the US really were to encourage "democracy" in most of the region, they would likely end up with exceedingly anti-American and quite possibly religious fundamentalist governments.
Snippets that may be of interest to some: college has a new portrait of the Warden, a rather lovely piece which really captures her sardonic smile. And they have replaced the traditional forms at one of the Hall tables with chairs, apparently for accessibility reasons. Apart from that college is much as normal, the gardens are pretty and the food is tasty and the wine is to die for. We were staying in the really gorgeous sets in St Albans, which have the huge disadvantage of being right over the JCR, but in vacation time they're among the nicest rooms in college. Oh, and New A's parents were there, so they told me some of his news.
With an extra day in Oxford, I'd intended to do touristy stuff, but when it came to it I felt more like just hanging out and being in Oxford. I belong there too much to even pretend to be a tourist, really. So I had icecream in G&Ds and a guest cider in the Turf and a slap-up meal in the Radcliffe Arms and bought way too many second-hand books and just wandered around enjoying the sunshine and Oxfordness. And spent lots of time chatting to cool people, including when I probably should have been sleeping.
The meal in the Radcliffe Arms was organized by shreena and quizcustodet, so we had a particularly enjoyable evening chatting. Many thanks to them. I hadn't actually met quizcustodet in person, but he confirmed my impression that shreena has impeccable taste. Also had some really fun conversations with sea_bright. I already knew she was a cool person but hadn't really had the opportunity for a real meaty conversation with her before now. She was also a deeply charming hostess, so many thanks go to her.
Then yesterday was taimatsu's picnic, which was great fun. taimatsu is an extremely skilled organizer of picnics and knows lots of interesting people I appreciated being introduced to. Highly enjoyable, and photos will follow when I'm in a position to upload them.
Apart from that I bought a silly straw hat and managed to arrange a meeting with my old tutor (those of you who have heard me talk about her may realize that this is something of a miracle!) So much yayness for Oxford.
I had planned to meet lethargic_man on the way back (travelling via London as there really is no sensible way of getting from Oxford to Cambridge). With rush hour traffic and other problems I ended up being over an hour late, but lethargic_man was very forgiving, bless him. We indulged in a rather surreal bit of chevruta in Hyde Park, where he told me a bit about transmission of manuscripts of Talmud and related stuff. The studying was cut short by a really intense thunderstorm during which I got entirely soaked. Then we went out to a really lovely vegetarian Indian meal
It was absolutely wonderful to see him and spend and evening being silly together. There are still bits of rather melancholy emotional responses that want to pop up from time to time, but mainly we just get on really well, and the awkward bits are going to get easier.
Getting home was a boring nightmare involving replacement buses and more downpours and my phone refusing to work to warn the parents I was going to be horribly late. But hey, that's a minor blot on an otherwise extremely wonderful few days.
And hatam_soferet is coming tomorrow, which makes me exceedingly happy and bouncy.