Now many would suggest that picking on the weather is just too easy if not a low blow. (But I’ve come to bury Caesar not to praise him.) Even the Brits acknowledge that the weather is rubbish. Now, after just ten days in Oxford, I can report that rules are made to broken. My family and friends would say, it’s just the Matson luck. For those that have not been to the U.K. or who generally rely on episodes of Downton Abbey for insight into the weather in England, might not be surprised to learn that I have enjoyed two of the most perfect weekends weather-wise as one might have in Oxfordshire. (I think I overheard someone say that it had been 137 years since there had been back-to-back sunny weekends in England. But maybe they were trying to make a point using hyperbole.) Both weekends featured blue skys, bright sunshine, and reasonable temperatures. [The first was a three-day weekend; not Memorial Day, but “Bank Holiday” weekend — of course, “bank holidays” in the U.S. is not generally thought of as a good thing. (Recall the run on the banks during the Depression.) “Bank Holidays” is also a good way to secularize national holidays, which the U.S. still generally refers to them as Easter and Christmas weekends as well as Martin Luther King Day and Veterans Day.]
Before we get too crazy about the weather, a few observations. One might easily conclude from the behavior of those in Oxford over these last two weekends suggests that the weather was exceptional. In some respects it is like the patients taking over the asylum. Everybody (everybody) came outdoors, presumably to verify that global warming did not include the sun burning itself out. Recall at the outset, I did say “reasonable temperatures.” Great for an early morning run. Great for a walk about town. Great for football (the international game) or frisbee (the American game) in the college courtyards or University Parks. Some obviously thought this might be the only time this summer that they could wear some new shorts, so despite the 60-degree weather, many seemed under-dressed, which leads me to last night.
My dorm room looks out over a courtyard/garden behind Wycliffe Hall, as I was thinking about our class work this past weeks (simple subjects like “What is Truth?” and “What is Faith?”), I noticed tables set outside for a dinner for 60+ people. Now it was a lovely day! My British friends would even say it was a “brilliant” day, but if it got above 70 degrees, it was no longer 70 degrees when women in dresses and guys in suits began to gather below me for drinks and dinner. As the sun was setting I could feel the cool air coming through my window, but they were determined to start this dinner-dance outside. A little British resolve and some down coats and everyone finished dinner just fine. And, moving from the ridiculous to the sublime (without regard to the fact that this dinner-dance was for students at Wycliffe Hall, which focuses primarily in training ministers for placement in the Anglican Church), as I was getting ready for bed, I heard the band start-up and the sounds of my college days repeated in an almost surreal manner: “Once I was a groovy singer, singing in a rock ‘n’ roll band . . . play that funky music white boy. And, “I want so hot stuff baby this evening; I want some hot stuff.” And, “Music knows it is and always will be one of the things in life that just won’t quit; , , , For there’s Basie, Miller, Sachimo and the king of all, Sir Duke.”