Last night I got back home from Oxford after an emotional day, but one of genuine happiness. I’d deposited my first born at university – 35 years, almost to the day, since I started a new life at the very same college, reading the very same subject. Lots of scope for nostalgia, especially as his room turned out to be on the floor below the room where I first met the lady who was to become his mother. It all felt a bit surreal.
I was reminded once again, as if I needed a reminder, of the sense of the exciting possibilities of student life, and certainly Oxford has always seemed to me to be a place of infinite possibilities. It was, of course, entertaining to see all the new students, trying not to be embarrassed by their parents. And to revisit old haunts such as the Oxford Union and Blackwell’s. (I was glad to see the bookshop had stocked up with copies of Dancing with the Hangman, and I’ll reflect on the subject of authors visiting bookshops in a future post.)
When I was a student, I wrote a good deal, but struggled to finish any crime fiction. I was too overwhelmed by the challenge of plotting a complex mystery, and the greatest success I had in those days was in writing for radio – a script of mine called ‘The Marrying Kind’ about a bigamist was recorded at Radio Oxford. It was a comedy, and I enjoy humorous writing to this day.
And as I wandered through the city, I added to the photos of the college a shot (it's the picture at the top of this post) of the old Saxon tower in Cornmarket. Which, as readers of the Lake District Mysteries know, is the tower from which Daniel Kind’s partner, Aimee, jumped to her death before the events of The Coffin Trail. But yesterday, it was a tranquil place, albeit dampened by the drizzle. Ah yes, the Oxford rain. I remember it well.