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Oxford Regained
 
oxford

On reflection, I really don't think that these days
      I am quite cut out to be a university town-trail
      leader or cicerone
My knowledge of Oxford has grown so thin that
      if it were human you'd call it indecently bony.
I can't tell my Christ Church from my Corpus Christi,
As well as being completely unaware of the correct
      term for those columns in the porch of St Mary's
      that look all contorted and melted and twisty.
And, to a question regarding the university's
      constitution from a foreign doctor who up to
      this point has been highly impressed,
I can only respond, "Well, Congregation is the
     legislative body, unless it's Convocation, and
     the Chancellor is the head, but not really, and,
     er, I do know the university once had a chest . . . "
Nor can I cope with demands for renderings
    of the Latin of wall-tablet inscriptions,
A language long deader to me than the hieroglyphs
     of Nth Dynasty Egyptians,
Or find anything useful to say on viewing the
      ornamental Butterfieldian brickwork of Keble,
      since all I can recall is that someone once told me
     "Keble looks knitted",
To which I replied, "And I hope it fitted!"
Nor, finally, can I contain my exquisite confusion
     when, after remarking in passing "That's where I
     I slept at Queen's", in tones nostalgically yellow and sere,
I discover one of my overseas pilgrims focussing
     some extremely expensive and sophisticated
     photographic equipment on a distant dormer window
     and grubby curtain under the impression "The Queen
     slept here."
Truly, no amateur guide's nerves are feather-bedded
They are shredded.
Only the need for international goodwill kept my
     teeth clenched on phrases like " them!",
So please excuse me now as I retrospectively Nash them.

Jerome Betts

If you have any thoughts on this poem,  Jerome Betts  would be pleased to hear them.

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