My Third Oxford Interview…I wake from a nightmare

Tom Winnifrith Friday 30 January 2015


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The Mrs is away visiting her folks in the grim frozen Northern post-industrial wastelands and so it is just myself and the cats living a chaotic life here in Bristol. I am not sure the house is terribly tidy and my routine is shot to pieces and so at 6 PM I went up to bed for a nap with the cats but awoke with a start two hours later thanks to a shocking nightmare. 

This rather startled the cats who were somewhat perturbed at the intrusion of a stranger in what they regard as their bed although it is in fact that in which the Mrs and I sleep.

As it happens I had two interviews at Oxford, one not quite as successful as the other. Like Evelyn Waugh I was rejected by Christchurch, The House, the college of the establishment and the thick aristocracy and also the college attended by most of my family. And like Evelyn Waugh, I ended up at Hertford, a modest and impoverished establishment rather looked down upon by House types for admitting women, Northerners and grammar school boys.  I was thinking about those two interviews as I lay awake pondering my nightmare but the actual history is for another day. 

Suffice to say that there is a tradition of great writers being rejected by the House only to end up at Herford. 

Back to the nightmare. For some reason it appeared that my second Oxford interview had been as unsuccessful as my first but somehow I had been offered a third bite at the cherry and a letter had arrived. I was a young man again and was with my father who was also twenty five years younger than he is now. With no stick and still quite fit he was able to keep up with me as we strolled along some grass covered walls.

The sun was shining brightly and as we chatted there was talk of going punting after the interview. But we were not in Oxford. Where were we? The place seemed terribly familiar. Steep walls on a drive up to a fortress with wide grass banks heading back from the wall tops. It sort of reminded me of the approach to the great castle in Corfu town from the bus station side. But the grass was a pale green not a Greek summer brown. It was not Corfu but it was like it and it certainly was not Oxford. I am struggling on this point. Perhaps it is nowhere?

And then came the realisation. The letter had given a time and a place but so engrossed was I with other matters that I had forgotten. And for some reason the whole point of going to Oxford had also rather passed my father by as well. How was I to break the news to him that I had screwed up again and I had now failed to git in for a third time simply because I had not shown up at all?

As I worked out how to fess up and felt ever worse about it I awoke with a start, gently kicking a dozing three legged Oakley in the process.

Dreams are meant to mean something. Does anyone have any ideas on this one?


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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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