A DULL DAY

Wednesday the 13th of January 1971 was an indifferent day; cold and grey. I got up in my digs and after having a shave went off to Summertown. I walked there, It wasn’t very far. I bought a newspaper – the Telegraph to read on the bus on the way into Oxford – a single decker this time, unusually. [Actually single deckers had recently taken over both the No. 2 and the No. 13 services.] A single ticket cost me 9d (nine old pence), but not for much longer however, We were due to go over to decimal currency in the next month, February 15th 1971. Nine pence does not convert exactly into new pence, so the price will go up; nothing went down. I went into the library and wrote a page and a half on building trades organisation. Despite appearances I was doing a Modern History degree, and I was working in that fine piece of architecture, the Radcliffe Camera. I had lunch in one my favourite restaurants, the Chinese in Ship Street.

After lunch it was only a short walk to the Bodleian (Seldon End) where I read Mrs Esdaile on the Stantons of Holborn. I don’t remember what this was about, but as I was doing 17th century buildings I guess it was something to do with this. It was in the Archaeological Journal so it must have something to with archaeology too. When I had finished this I went to the market; all these places I have mentioned are very close together in the centre of Oxford. By then it was half past three, and the market was packing up for the day, but this meant there was a lot of cut price items on offer. This was mostly foodstuffs (fish and meat) but there were also watches, foam rubber, clothes and general junk at reduced price too. Oxford market was still also a livestock market in 1971, and there was a pen of oxen and one of sheep left on this dreary afternoon.

Next I went to the railway station. It was a desolate place in the late afternoon, especially at this time of year. When I was a student at Oxford the station had not then been rebuilt, and it was a dilapidated place built of wood; nothing like the fine terminus at Norwich. As far as other things went it was no better; I had gone there for a Western Region timetable for the journey to London (a reasonable thing to request I thought) but they had none. Later in the week I tried various travel agents, but again with no luck.

The evening’s reading was McCullock’s economic history texts. I have always found economic history particularly dull, and these were no exception, so you may imagine my feelings as I returned to the Radcliffe Camera. I would have got out of it if I could, but economic history was a compulsory part of my course.

Why did I have a footnote “James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Cape, 15 shillings.”? I’m sure I have never read the book. I must have intended to.

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage.wordpress.com

MEMORIES OF FIFTY YEARS AGO

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