2023 Tolkien Lecture
Getting to Oxford from South Wales is nowhere near as easy as it was from Wiltshire, especially as the Didcot-Oxford train line is now closed indefinitely. However, attending the annual Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College requires an overnight stay, so I just planned to spend much of the two days travelling.
Overnight stays in Oxford are relatively cheap because there are always college rooms available. This year I ended up in Wycliffe, which is a Church of England Theological College. It did not burst into flames when I crossed the threshold, and it turned out to be very pleasant. It is always nice to turn up somewhere new and find you have a personal connection to one of the staff.
Being in Oxford meant a trip to Blackwells. I escaped with only buying two books, which was a relief. There is also a Montezuma’s chocolate shop, where I also spent quite a bit of money.
The Ashmolean Museum had a special exhibition on the Minoans and I took the opportunity to visit. I was pleased to see Minos Kalokairinos getting due credit for his early work on the site before Sir Arthur Evans arrived. Much of what they have is, understandably, reproductions of the fabulous frescoes. I’d love to go to Crete and see the real things, but I can’t see that happening any time soon.
And so to the lecture, which this year was given by Maria Dahvana Headley. I hadn’t seen Maria and her partner, Will, since Maria did a Beowulf event at St. Johns back in the Before Times (and we spent ages trying to find somewhere quiet enough to record an interview). That of course meant I hadn’t seen little Grim at all. I’m pleased to report that he’s just as impish and charming in person as he seems in photographs, if not more so.
I don’t need to tell you what Maria talked about, because you can watch the lecture yourselves. Enjoy!