Chapter 4 continued
In which I do not borrow a book from the Bodlelian and have a close encounter with a pig knuckle
As I neglected to take a book with me to England I thought I might be able to get one at the local library but the Bodleian proved to be most disappointing. I could not locate any books but did find an interesting exhibition of rare alchemical manuscripts displayed with various original texts and illustrations from the likes of CS Lewis and Tolkien which made up for there being no public borrowing. I wandered about, inhaling the rarefied atmosphere of the Inklings (and probably some deadly mould spoors wafting off the fusty old pages).
In my peregrinations on the way home I discovered a new section of the town which extends beyond Magdalen and My Esteemed Colleague and I went over a bridge of great charm in search of a curry. The only Indian restaurant we could find was exorbitantly priced so we trudged back and fell upon a French style restaurant which appeared to have potential. My erudite companion ordered duck, and I was presented with a gigantic braised pig’s knuckle which was truly delicious but caused me hours of regret afterward.
Bloated by our gargantuan feast we lumbered homeward, stopping in at a charming Pub of the “Ye Olde English” style called the “Full Moon!” (oh prophetic name!) My Academic acquaintance had some flat warm beer while I asked for a lemon lime and bitters. The Bar Wench asked in a broad country accent to repeat what I wanted and then said she had never heard of such a thing. I tried to explain, but what I thought was a universal drink must only be known in Australia, because she looked more and more perplexed and I am sure mumbled something like “Oooo ar, ooo ar” and asked if I wanted lemon squash? I ended up asking for a lemon squash with bitters in it. I was presented with a glass of squash and an unopened but ancient, dust-covered bottle of bitters with the instructions, “You can put the bitters in yerself sir as I don’t know how much you be wanting.” So rustic! She took several steps backward as I shook some into the squash and I am sure she thought it was some species of nitro-glycerin and the whole thing would explode. I am convinced that “bitters” was classified in her mind as “some foreign muck” and therefore not to be trusted.
We lapped up the refreshments and then, replete, we returned to our simple digs, as Pepys said,
“And so to bed” (then to the toilet, then to bed, the toilet etc.)
The previous installments of this essential historical document can be found here if you choose to read more.