This week to my old Oxford college, for a School Teachers' Networking Day. Nearly forty years I have waited for this invitation, but here it is at last.
As one of the former women's colleges, Somerville now finds itself having to take candidates from the general pool, as many of the more clued up entrants - male and female - opt for the big name colleges with the spectacular buildings. I blame J.K. Rowling for this.
The day began on the 10.18 from Paddington. Already in the carriage were two females, each sporting a fascinator and clearly off to the races at Ascot. One was demurely dressed in a maxi, but the other one appeared to be wearing a 50s swimsuit. As she touched up the blood red varnish on her toe-nails, she squawked into her phone that she was entitled to a day out, and would get drunk if she felt like it....
No greater contrast could be imagined to these two than the hippy couple who were forced to sit next to them as the carriage filled up. Both clutched grease-soaked brown paper bags containing cheese pasties, which they ate with relish. Every item of their clothing was well-worn and made of some form of hairy natural fibre. The two sporting ladies had no choice but to budge up for them.
So to the Margeret Thatcher Conference Centre - she read chemistry here. We met current undergraduates who looked about twelve; we networked; we watched mock interviews and made notes; we ate lunch in Hall, or rather, in what was once the college bar. Amazingly, shortly after the admission of men to the college in 94 the bar was reinstated as a Reading Room.
Eventually, we were released into the rain. I made first for this place of pilgrimage: the Annabelinda shop. They specialise in fabulous couture clothing in velvets and Liberty prints. Recently they have begun to take in their own creations from the past to resell as vintage and the shop is full to bursting with wonderful, well-loved items. One could have spent a fortune.
Finally,this week's bear for the appeal. A different and hopefully less fierce head-shape. This owes a lot to Little Cotton Rabbits, where I notice that the bear head is similar to the rabbit, but with a different ear shape. I was very pleased with the conceit of the eye-brow which I introduced. It is probably invisible to anyone but me.