Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Deja Vu







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.

10 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Beautiful pictures. I went back to my old college a year ago for the first time since graduation and was amazed how many memories flooded me.

It sounds like you're really happy and excited for your son. I hope I'll be the same...I have a feeling I'll feel sad when the day comes in another six years.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

pattinase (abbott) said...

I well remember taking my son (and then daughter) off to the University of Michigan and having the same sort of feelings. I needed the advise of a good book "Letting Go" to get me through it. I hope your son enjoys his university days as much as my two did. And it turned out one writer and a prosecutor.

harriet said...

I have just moved back to Oxford, where I lived for nearly 10 happy years in the 1980s. It is one of the loveliest places I know and I am so pleased to be back there. Like you I have been revisiting old haunts, most of them remarkable unchanged, I'm glad to say.

Dorte H said...

Congratulations!

We have already sent our two eldest off to ´our´ university in Aarhus, but it does not really compare to Oxford (it dates back to the 1940s; yellow bricks). Nevertheless it is interesting to hear about their experiences.

And in a way I did return to Oxford last night. Danish television sent the first Inspector Morse, The Dead of Jericho. They send these series again and again, but of course it is always good to see John Thaw (like having an old friend around).

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. It's one of those mixed emotions moments, I guess. But apart from anything else, it gives me a great excuse to go back to a marvellous city!

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Patti. A writer and a prosecutor - great combination!!

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Harriet, I hope perhaps our paths may cross on a future visit. And meanwhile, best wishes in your new home.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Dorte - I well remember seeing The Dead of Jericho when it was shown for the very first time, and loving it.

bookwitch said...

Should we recognise the college?

Can you recommend it from the point of view of becoming a writer and finding love?

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Bookwitch. It is Balliol, and it has turned out 30 odd published crime writers over the years, as well as the likes of Swinburne, Manley Hopkins and Matthew Arnold. I think Jonathan is lucky, as I was, to experience life there. As for romance, Mrs Edwards is variously wife, sister, daughter and mother to Balliol men, so she has never quite managed to escape it!