Here I am again, blogging in the car. It appears to be my preferred method at the moment. We still donâ€™t have the internet at home, so among other things this means that I canâ€™t see the comments on my last post. So if there were any particular questions that Iâ€™m not answering, donâ€™t take it as an uppity silence . . . itâ€™s just me being blissfully out of touch with the rest of the world. And why donâ€™t we have the internet? Donâ€™t ask â€“ itâ€™s a long and painful tale of trying to get service in a socialist country when you have to get the government phone agency to hook up your phone and they donâ€™t feel like they can be bothered with it. Iâ€™ll spare you the gory details â€“ no one really likes to sympathize with other peopleâ€™s tales of being on hold for hours and no one returning their phone calls. So suffice it to say, weâ€™re working on this whole project and in the postmillennial vision you will one day hear from me from my living room and not the minivan.
But right now itâ€™s dark and weâ€™re parked just outside the gates of Tom Tower, Christ Church. Itâ€™s pouring rain and there are huddled groups of soggy students hurrying along the pavement under their umbrellas, those little streamer thingies on their robes fluttering behind them. Since it is now itâ€™s 9:05 the enormous bells of the tower are ringing 101 times like they do every evening at 9:05 in honor of the original 101 scholars who were enrolled when the college was founded by Henry VIII. Some poor drenched souls are struggling along on bikes with their grocery shopping dangling from the handlebars. Speaking of poor drenched souls, Ben rode his bike home from German class this evening and squelched through the door for dinner looking like heâ€™d just gone for a dip in the river. Damp doesnâ€™t even remotely cover it. He was spouting water from every seam like a Versailles fountain.
But what are we doing parked outside in the rain? Ben had a meeting in college about rowing for Christ Church. And since we hadnâ€™t really seen each other all day we thought he might as well take the whole family along for the ride. (Just for the ride â€“ not to the meeting.) So we put all the kids into their pjâ€™s and bundled them into the car . . . and had a cozy little car ride and then the kids and I waited while he ran in to his quick meeting. Several of the children fell asleep right at the outset, and the others are reading and coloring. If only I had a Starbucks then this whole thing would be perfect. But the English seem to have no idea what coffee is for and the Starbucks close at 7:00. Itâ€™s ridiculous.
I always love driving through the center of Oxford at night. Everyone is always on their way somewhere and the people watching is fantastic. Ben is forever getting invitations to formal dress this and black tie that . . . when theyâ€™re really dressing down they specify that the attire is a lounge suit. (I confess I had no idea what that meant and had to google it â€“ last year in the happy days when I had access to google â€“ and discovered that a lounge suit doesnâ€™t actually mean a double knit disco outfit, but rather a suit and regular tie as opposed to suit and black tie.) Ben doesnâ€™t attend these functions unless theyâ€™re mandatory (like drinks with your tutor) because, saint that he is, he dislikes dressing up and toodling out for a night on the town leaving the family at home. But the point remains that he gets these invitations constantly and thus it is that when you drive through Oxford at night you get to see some really pizzazzy outfits on all the people who are attending these shindigs. I have, I kid you not, even run across top hats. But not tonight. Tonight everyone is racing along under their umbrellas trying to get out of the deluge.
But now my soggy husband is back and itâ€™s time to head home to bed and carry sleeping, pajama clad children through the rain and up to their cozy cushions on the floor.