|Christ Church staircase: Not just for wizards.|
We took the train out from Paddington and arrived at dusk, when Oxford is very much a city of dreaming spires, indeed. We came to the gate of Christ Church and were met by a very protective porter. We told him we were there for the dinner, and he let us in but explained that he was guarding the door closely because some Pembroke College hooligans would likely try to sneak onto Tom Quad that night to burn a boat in celebration of their victory over Christ Church. (I can report that no such bonfire had occurred by the time we left, so well done, Mister Porter.)
|"To the Queen!"|
We began with drinks in the foyer just outside the dining hall (yes, that dining hall). Introductions, reunions, friendly chatter, photos. Then the call to dinner. The great doors opened, and we found our places at the long banquet tables. For three hours we wined and dined under the watchful eyes of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Elizabeth II, and countless great men of state whose portraits line the walls (What up, William Penn!). Four courses, two wines, sherry, port. Toasts to the Queen, to the college, to the rowing club. Now and again I stopped to look around the room and absorb the fact that I was a little part of its history for a night. When we left, Tom Quad lay quiet under a clear sapphire sky pinned with a slender moon and brilliant stars. I think time just might have stopped for a moment.
I don't quite understand why I've been given some of the experiences I've been given. This is another instance in which grace is befuddling, and I suppose the only right response is to receive it with thanks and enjoy it to the utmost. Thank you, Vicky, for a night I will remember for a very, very long time!