Sunday, 6 May 2012

It's amazing how much you can see from a bus. Driving westwards out of London yesterday, we passed brutal

Trellick Tower - which I can't bring myself to love.
And the Hoover building, a little bit of the Jazz Age on Western Avenue. You can't not love the Hoover building.
Then to everyone's surprise, the driver went the pretty way, past the house where TS Eliot once lived (only caught that out of the corner of my eye) and a breathtakingly lovely bluebell wood (couldn't stop). Until we arrived in Oxford and St Catherine's College, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year,  where my eyes were opened to the harmonious dignity of Arne Jacobsen's wonderful Modern architecture. (Whoever would have thought that concrete could be warm and organic and
strokable?).
We had lunch in the dining hall. (On Arne Jacobsen chairs ... and look at those table lamps ... but the original cutlery has been pinched by previous generations of students.) The American architect who delivered a riveting lecture said, If Harry Potter went to Christ Church, then James Bond surely went to St Catherine's. The secret gardens, unfolding from one to the next like a puzzle,  made me think of a 20th century Alice in Wonderland. I've been to Oxford more times than I remember, and nearly always spend an hour or so wandering around the colleges but this was the first time I'd ever been to St Catherine's. If this was Denmark, somebody said, tourists would be thronging to see it ... and they'd be right.

4 comments:

Toffeeapple said...

I used to pass the Hoover Building every day on my way to and from work at Hallmark Cards, all those years ago...

mary said...

It always gives me a little frisson of pleasure when I pass it, Toffeeapple.

Lucille said...

My boyfriend went to St Catherine's. The architecture and armchairs were wasted on me then. I remember a sunken seating area in the JCR.

mary said...

Still there, Lucille, and apparently they have a real log fire during the Christmas term. Which would have been a recipe for disaster when I was a student. (Some bright spark would have been roasting the ducks from the lake ...)
Most things were wasted on me at that age! You'd probably appreciate it more now that the landscaping has matured.