Friday, October 20, 2017

Golden, orange and russet leaves glowing... the afternoon sunshine...and the Thames lapping along, and  I walked from Teddington down to St Mary's University, and settled in the Senior Common Room with the history project. .  No one uses the Senior Common Room for its official purpose - it's a fine room in the Waldegrave part of the Strawberry Hill mansion, and it's used for conferences and meetings.  The whole idea of a Senior Common Room just doesn't fit into the way things work any more -  and all the teaching staff simply go to the refectory and the coffee-bar in the modern part of the University like everyone else.  But  when it's free, its dark heavy wallpaper and wide windows,  fine paintings, and reassuring bust of John Henry Newman make it a pleasant room in which to work, and a young student was playing the piano in the Waldegrave drawing room nearby, and I had a good-sized table on which to spread my notes and books. After a couple of hours or so I felt the need of Tea, and plunged back into 21st century life, with on-line topping-up of my refectory card, and fitting a plastic lid on the top of an expanded-polystyrene cup and lining up with the lads in baseball caps and girls in ripped jeans.

I continued my work in the more prosaic surroundings of the library. I needed a list of the St Mary's men who died in WWII, and asked a student if he could possibly help me by photographing the War Memorial with its list of names, on his mobile phone. He couldn't have been more helpful, and we went into the large silent chapel together, and found the Memorial and he got a good picture of it. Three long columns of names, and I started to look some of them up on the Commonwealth War Grave Commission website.

In the dusk, solemn thoughts as I swished through the golden and brown leaves in the lamplight, walking down towards the river...


Malcolm said...

It's a shame. The combination room used to be the place everyone hung out when not busy. I suppose these days everyone has to be busy all the time.

Anonymous said...

There is no going back to previous centuries. Only forward, for good or for ill, only going forward.

We need to let go of nostalgia, and adjust to the present day realities as we live out our discipleship.

Joanna Bogle said...

Of course. I have no desire whatever to go back into a past I never knew...looking at the names on the war memorials brought solemn thoughts, not nostalgic ones.

This Autumn is particularly beautiful: we should seize these golden days - no need to "adjust" to them, just enjoy them. And every day brings new and wonderful things.

Anonymous said...

Dear Auntie Joanna,
As a New Yorker, I delight in your descriptions of autumn in London & the English countryside. We have had summer temperatures since August, and most leaves are still green.
As an American, I gasp whenever you mention columns of names of those who died in WW1 & WWII in a particular church or university. In my village, we have four small War Memorials (no names; one for each War). People are urged to touch the memorials and remember those who paid the price for our liberty. Nothing could be more reality-based.

Sheila A. Waters
Bronxville, NY