EJ Rudsdale on Twitter from 3 September 2019

16th June 1943 - A Visit to Oxford

To Oxford today.  Fine, warm, and sunny.  Caught the 10.40 at Colchester, rather taken aback to meet Major Round on the station.  Chatted a few minutes before the train came in.
Clouds came up and rain began as we drew in to Liverpool Street.  Big crowds in all the streets, lined up for buses and cinemas.  People must waste half a lifetime in these queues.  

More crowds on Paddington, and the train jammed to suffocation.  Through Maidenhead, could see Grenfell Road, Boyne Hill Church, etc. and the roof of Aunt’s house by the bridge.  Stopped at Reading, and a lot of girls going to Wolverhampton wedged themselves in, yelling and screaming in harsh Midland voices.

Oxford at last, about 4 o’clock.  More enormous crowds.  Where on earth are all these people going?

Cycled into the city.  Have only been here once before, when I came with Poulter for one night about 8 years ago, so it was all new to me.  Immense crowds in the streets, Jews, French, etc.  Traffic lights, stone walls of ancient buildings, vulgar modern shops.  Horse traffic, hundreds of cycles, RAF lorries, American lorries.  Went along the High, past rows of Colleges, the Clarendon (which Woolworth’s intend to destroy), past Magdalen and over Magdalene Bridge.  All incredibly lovely, green trees, flowing river.  Suddenly a very heavy shower came on, so sheltered under the trees by the bridge.  Asked a woman if she knew where All Soul’s was, but she replied in a Cockney voice “All Souls what?”  At last steeled myself to go to the porter at Magdalen ask him.  Was directed politely and quickly.

Found the place and found the National Buildings Record offices on the right hand side.  Mr. Godfrey was very pleasant, and introduced me to his assistant, Farthing.  Mr. Summerson was not there.  Left Godfrey at 5 to see Molly Blomfield's sister at the Berkshire Arms, who gave me an address in Abingdon Road where I could get a bed for the night.  Joan seemed very well, and asked me to supper with her extraordinary husband, who is none the less quite a nice fellow.

Had an excellent supper, and then went to the lodging house, which was only a few doors away.  Rather smelly, but it will do.  Then went down to All Souls again for an hour, looking over photographs.  

Left the town at 11, still dusk.  Got to bed in a little room at one side of the house, lay listening to ‘planes cruising about, clocks striking in the city, voices in the street.  Pulled the curtains and watched the moon rise.

No comments: