Gill and her somewhat zany friend took a trip to Oxford a couple of weeks ago — ostensibly to visit the friend’s dad and spend a day taking in the local sights. As I recall from our weeks spent there many years ago, it’s mostly old stone buildings, pubs, and students everywhere. Nothing too exciting. But Gill, having been urged by me to do ‘stupid things’ so we’d have more writing material, was on the hunt for something extraordinary.
Too bad she didn’t talk to David Cameron before she went. He apparently has the ‘inside scoop’ as to the raunchy, debauched side of Oxford. He and a certain deceased pig that shall remain nameless apparently had an encounter when he was a student there — an encounter now making Twitter light up. It is alleged by his new biographer, that David, during an ill-conceived, party with his ‘elite’ club mates did something unspeakable to a dead pig. No comment from #10 Downing of course. I am stunned! This kind of behavior at staunch old Oxford??
But rather than ask David, Gill consulted Google before she went. I believe she typed in ‘weird things to do in Oxford’ and came up with a couple of intriguing possibilities. One was ‘the blue shark in a roof’ and the other, ‘a folly’.
The blue shark was in fact exactly as advertised — an art installation featuring a fake blue shark bursting out of a roof in a house. Now I’m as keen on installation art as anyone and loved the odd statues and objects that popped up in Australian fields and along freeways…proving the Aussies have a wicked sense of humor. In fact, as Gill will attest, many of my pictures from my trip to Oz consist of weird things in odd places. Forget the pretty scenery–it’s the strange bits that make one remember a place.
But the shark was a puzzlement. Funny, but the sort of thing that left one with a lot of questions. For instance, doesn’t the rain get in through the hole in the roof? Won’t this lead to the shark succumbing to the ‘rising damp’?Does anyone still live in the house? Haven’t the neighbors complained about it being an eyesore or at least against local bylaws? Put it in my neighborhood and I guarantee they’d be cited for some misdemeanor. Aren’t the local children (having been told about Sharknado movies) terrified by the shark’s presence? And on and on…
Having expended as much energy on admiring the shark as they could in three minutes, Gill and her friend moved on to find the nearest ‘folly’.
“Now, judging by what you’ve told me about life in England, there is a folly or two around every bend in the road. In fact, much of the UK is a complete and utter folly. Why would you purposefully go looking for such a thing?” I asked.
“Because it’s there…” she answered logically.
“So explain to me exactly what a true folly is…and don’t say it’s Crazy D’s next hiking adventure.”
“Ha, ha…For our purposes, it is a building constructed primarily for decoration but suggests through its appearance some other purpose. There is often an element of fakery in the construction and it is often eccentric in design or construction.”
“Oh, I get it now. It’s like the huge Owl Topiary you want to make on my front lawn. Or that pioneer tower the crazy guy constructed on his farm out in the middle of Shitzplat, Nowhere on our way to our country property. You were always intrigued with that!”
“Well, duh…it’s a huge tower in a cornfield with nothing around it but cows! But yes, I think the Owl Topiary is a prime example of a folly. Good work, Ma. You’re a fast learner.”
“Yes, well, the Owl is a folly in more ways than one…”
And so Gill went looking for a folly in Oxford — reassured by the knowledge that, if she fails in her search, she can always make her own on our front lawn.
I’ll bet David Cameron is wishing his Pig Problem could be solved as easily…