All went well in Oxford yesterday, though I've been stricken with a horrible virus today, and am writing this with a streaming nose and feverish head (just as well that this virus can't be spread via the computer). Anyway, it was a beautiful spring afternoon when I arrived in Oxford, and I went for a wander around Jericho, where I lived as a child. Standing in front of our old house, on Richmond Road, I was so overcome with nostalgia that I found myself gazing in through the window, on the verge of tears. Fortunately, the very amenable owner didn't take offense, and asked me in for a cup of tea after I told her that I'd grown up in the house. It was all just as I remembered it -- my little bedroom on the top floor, overlooking the garden with its apple and pear trees. Even the miniature box hedges were still there, which edged my mother's herb garden.
By the time I got to Christ Church to do my event in the evening, I'd fallen in love with Oxford all over again -- the twilight gathering in the meadows behind the college, the bells ringing out from the tower. It's such a seductive place.
Anyway, my event sold out -- hurrah! -- and it was such a lovely audience, including some midwives who had come all the way from Glasgow, and who bought three copies of 'Daphne' each, and could quote lines from Branwell Bronte's poetry. ('Why dost thou sorrow for the happy dead?') If any of them happen to read this -- thank you so much for being there!
Actually, I wanted to say thank you to everyone in the audience, because they asked such good questions, and were real enthusiasts. Also, one of my former teachers from junior school came -- and afterwards she told me that Philip Pullman taught at my old school; but not me, sadly (I think I must be too old to have been one of his pupils, given that I was born in 1961).
Must stop rambling, and go and cook fish for hungry teenage sons. No dreaming spires in view from north London, but the magnolia tree is blooming in the back garden, and the wisteria is budding, and the blackbird is singing at dusk.