It's sad to see the felt tip drawings on this plastic fade starting to rub and fade - but I guess that I did do them back in the 1980s (thus rendering the pad unusable for ever after, but Buckell and Ballard didn't end up doing a very good job in selling the Oxford house back in 2000, so I guess I'm not that sorry). But the inscriptions read, from top to bottom,
and I'm particularly fond of the second, rather miserable, probably fly-beset sheep. They lived on the counter in my mother's Oxford flat: I hope that in a week or two they make it safely down to London, but a photograph seemed like a good idea, in case of damp or friction ... Sheep are remarkably comforting in times of turmoil: even substitute sheep: two nights ago, I went to sleep clutching the hoof of the toy stuffed one that's now taking up rather too much of my suitcase.
From which one might, rightly, gather that preparing to leave a flat that one's known - albeit only intermittently as a resident or guest - for some thirty three years is an event that brings one up very sharply against lots of one's memories (many good, a couple so bad that I'm most certainly not putting them into cyberspace, but let's just say that it wasn't always a good idea to invite guests back in my youth: academics - well, like anyone - can behave in some surprising ways that involve a great deal of misinterpretation of all available evidence ...). I'll miss it: miss the view over to the Cherwell; miss the strange clunk and squeak of the doors; miss the sense of being able to squirrel myself away in a very quiet, very light space. On the other hand, I won't miss the rules and regulations: "no animals" was the one broken for nine months or so by Pankhurst, Saffo, and Charlie Mew, and I always had to smuggle in the bags of kitty litter (and yet, another resident visibly invites squirrels into her apartment, and there used to be a big shaggy labrador that was there most of the time). Nor will I miss the anxious/bad-tempered notes in the laundry room or the trash bin room from other residents (I guess I'm just not an idea apartment dweller); and these days, above all, I won't miss the lack of internet access. All the same: regret, memories, time passing - all encapsulated in the fading sheep.