A little while ago I took a spring stroll through Addison's Walk and the Fellows' Garden at Magdalen ... to see the fritillaries ... and to have a look at the lovely Mosque built in their back garden. (Unfortunately, I was not in time to catch the the Cry of the Muezzin echoing over the water meadows of the Cherwell.) Then along Mesopotamia to the forelorn, desecrated, site of Parsons' Pleasure ... memories, here, of Warden Bowra and those far-off days when undergraduates made endless jokes about Wadhamy (nowadays, of course, the Statuta have been amended so that women undergraduates can commit Wadhamy too).
The site of the Pleasure offers not even an echo of the way it was in the golden heyday of S Stephen's House, then situated in Norham Gardens. Canon Couratin, so the megale paradosis wistfully claims, used to interview prospective seminarians there (not that I have ever met a man who actually was so interviewed). But now the fences and the divesting cubicles have been bulldozed and the Curators of the University Parks, a degenerate body of men, have added insult to injury by putting up notices saying NO SWIMMING AND NO DIVING.
So, round the Duck Pond (where we used in the summer to make our morning meditations between Mattins and Mass) and out on to Bevington Road, past the house once occupied by Pam's two tutors, the terrifyingly erudite Daughter of Oz Margaret Eileen Hubbard and the somewhat ambiguous Iris Murdoch (Pam and I first met on the stairs there while waiting for a Homer Seminar). St Anne's, once the repository of Oxford's most brilliant and beautiful women undergraduates, is now polluted by vile hordes of adolescent youths who, in their horrible male way, testosterone oozing from their pimples, have renamed it Stans.
Ubi illa vetusta Oxonia? Non sumus quales eramus. Who has purloined the neiges d'antan?