Amon Hen, 244 – November 2013
I should introduce myself. I have been a member of the Tolkien Society since 20th January 1984. 1 had found the contact address in «Journeys of Frodo» by Barbara Strachey. I attended a meeting of the Northfarthing Smial at the Bricklayers Arms in 1988, and always wished to visit again, but many other matters have hindered it. Eventually, by good management and good luck, I have been able to enjoy a fortnight in England, attend my first Oxonmoot, and walk to a few places I had wanted to see for many years.
I arrived at Lady Margaret Hall on 20 September, after sunset. So my Oxonmoot started with a warm welcome at a fairly castle-like Gate, and followed with some nice talk in the bar. There I tested my ability to understand spoken English.
This is a note for those coming from abroad: on Saturday morning I went out to buy an adapter for UK plugs at Boswells. These artefacts are quite easy to find at airports. On returning I found the Auction being held. It was an interesting idea… even without the silver spoons. Now I will remember Glenda Bailey because two of her books are on my shelves, so she somehow lives in my mind… A few books was about all I could manage… I did not visit the Dealers Room because I was carrying a 20 kg trolley. As Kipling puts it: «Very many Sahibs travel along the Kalka road; and, as Mahbub Ali says, every young Sahib must needs esteem himself a judge of a horse, and, though he be over head in debt to the money-lender, must make as if to buy.» BTW, my determined efforts to avoid buying books and other stuff eventually resulted in a box weighing 9 kg that was duly sent via Royal Mail to Ibiza, so the trolley stayed manageable.
On Saturday afternoon, Denis Bridoux gave us a most enjoyable address about the Lake-town and its possible connections with ancient Swiss politics. I understood each and every word he said. Now I should try and do some learned reflection on the history of tongues but, very unfortunately, I had brought with me a cold from abroad. The medicine I used to avoid untimely sneezes made me drowsy, so I found it more and more difficult to understand the following lectures.
After having some supper I went to the bar, where several groups had formed. Probably I should have used my First-Timer badge as an excuse for the rudeness of popping into all of them, but I did not. Another idea is to make appointments beforehand to meet people. There is at least one person I wanted to have a talk with… and we did not meet. As Bilbo put it: «I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like». Hopefully this may be mended in future. If I am spared, of course.
On Sunday morning we went to Wolvercote Cemetery to commemorate the Professor, his family, and the Society members that have left us. The speech by the Chairman made me think of Lester Simons, for he was a gentle heart and he is missed. Well, I’m back now, and I will look for his letters and think of him. Though my service to him was brief, just to show him some parts of Ibiza, it will be a memory glad and honourable to the end of my days.
And I had supposed that my Oxonmoot was to end when I took the trolley from the Porter’s Lodge and proceeded to the railway station, but the Supreme Being gave me a Guide for the next leg of my journey. A fellow member was going in the afternoon from Oxford to my next destination. So I had the unexpected pleasure of travelling with him to London in a very fast train, on a line designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He helped me immensely to navigate through Paddington Station, the London Underground, and Victoria Station… Sounds intricate because it is. When we reached our destination he further obliged me by sharing some pints of ale and cider in a pub right beside the railway, and then guided me to my hotel. Had I done this journey on my own, trolley and all, you may bet that I would have been tired out for a day at least by the mental work of finding the connections and all that. So I am very thankful to him, and to the Supreme Being, for making my Oxonmoot and my stay in Britain so very enjoyable.