Sunday, March 29, 2009

The March Madness Anglophone Tour

The March Madness Anglophone Tour Continues . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Alan and Barbara Mackenzie

The next stop our March Madness Anglophone Tour was visiting people and places that we associate fondly with our summers at OxfordUniversity. Of course, a necessary stop was a visit to The Anchorage B & B in Lytham-St. Anne's, England, hosted by our dear friend Alan and BarbaraMackenzie. Whenever(and wherever) we reunite we simply pick up the thread of our ongoing conversation that ranges from Bonaventure gossip to US politics and, of course, great books,good eating, movies and classic American jazz. Lytham-St. Anne's is a quiet resort town on the Irish sea, and Barbara is its Mayor. We spent several summers working the Francis Kelley Oxford Summer Program together, along with Bro. Basil Valente, who would show up in London just in time for our stop there.

Giving Oxford the Business

It's been a few years since we last visited Oxford, and it was great to be back. Of course, change comes slowly in places like Oxford and the most dramatic change was the opening of the Said
School of Business. I can imagine,
without knowing for sure, how horrified the Oxfonian humanists must be by this addition. Not only is Oxford constitutionally opposed to the so-called practical arts, but the building
itself is a high-rise post-modern architectural insult, complete with the statue of a bull on the pavement! Did I hear old Cardinal Newman groaning in his tomb?

"Towery city and branchy between towers"
Gerard Manley Hopkins, Duns Scotus's Oxford

Otherwise the town was as lovely as ever, and it was especially interesting
to be visiting during the regular school term -- a novelty for us. We paid a visit to sleepy Somerville College (below), the Phoenix Theatre, and walked the Christchurch Meadows (left), Broad Street and the High. We checked into Oxfordshire Central Library for some free internet. So we booked a great dinner at the Cafe Rouge, after a mandatory bagel sandwich at George and Davis. A perfect visit despite our somewhat funky lodging across from the all- night full-blast Eurobeat dance club across the street.

Cartwright Gardens

"The Tour" ends in London -- where else? -- which has my vote for the most interesting city in the world. We found a nice little hotel, The Euro, near St. Pancras Station. The Euro bordered Cartwright Gardens, dedicated to John Cartwright (1740-1824), where we found his statue from which we learned that he was distinguished as "the first English Writer who openly maintained the Independence of the United States of America" and who resigned his commission as a naval officer in 1776 because "he nobly refused to draw his Sword against the Rising Liberties of an oppressed and struggling People." (That's him on the left.) One of the things that makes London so interesting is Judy's cousin Martin Sherman, the noted playwrite and also a great conversationalist. We met Martin at a Moroccan restaurant for a wonderful laugh-filled dinner. At Martin's recommendation we got matinee tickets for the revival of Joe Orton's excellent "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" -- a great find! But before that we had a great lunch -- at Brown's, where else? -- with Bro. Basil, another former colleague at Oxford. He still directs the program and was
in England to make arrangements for the coming summer's program.

Above are photos of us with Basil (at Brown's in London) and Martin (taken last year in Greece

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hallelujah! Spring Break!

Hallelujah on Fishamble Street

Well, Judy and I decided that we would return to the Anglophone world for our spring break, and so we booked some cheap Ryanair flights: Rome to Dublin, Dublin to Manchester, and Rome to Perugia, with a visit to Lytham-St. Annes and Oxford by train.

Let's start with Dublin: We arrived in the middle of some Rugby madness that I couldn't quite understand, maybe England vs. Ireland, or Italy vs. Ireland. The plane was filled with raucous Italian teenagers who never stopped talking and never sat down, and this was after a three-hour wait at the Ciampino Airport check-in counter. But in Dublin a stranger gave us her left-over bus pass and we were on our way to the George Frederick Handel Hotel on Fishamble Street -- yes! -- near the spot where GFH premiered Messiah. Hallelujah!Dublin seems like a fun place, at least where we were staying, and we wallowed in meat, potatoes, beer and Irish music. High points? Lamb Boxty at Gallagher's Boxty House, Sliotar at The Porterhouse, "The Class" at the Irish Film Institute, a bus ride to the Irish coast and Malahide Castle. But I must concede that my personal favorite was the statue of William Edward Hartpole Lecky, the eminent 19th Century Irish historian, on the campus of Trinity College. (Of course, I had no idea who this guy was until I googled him.) I really liked the comfortable pose he strikes in this statue -- so relaxed!!!