A Day in Search of the Beast

January 16, 2009.  Personal Log:

Fun Friday.  As a gift I gave Friday to me.  Enough of doing what I had to do . . . I spent the whole day doing some things I’d been dreaming of.

Went down to The Oxford Union and joined!  Ate lunch amid the Dons of Oxford, only to learn that both the food and the beer is half the cost of any public place!  And I’d been sweating the 100 pounds cost of joining. In beer alone, I’ll recover the 100 quid in a month! The debates begin next Thursday and are every Thursday after that.  The schedule is not out, but Gordon Brown is supposed to come this term.  Recall this is where Don Seawell says he debated Winston Churchill in the early 30s.  The reading room is replete with every magazine (periodical) on the planet, and around each corner I expected to run into Harry Potter or one of Philip Pullman’s characters, Liara or Sally Lockhart.  I will run into Pullman sooner or later, he frequents the place.

Then after lunch I walked the three blocks to the Bodleian Library (there is a big argument as to whether it, or our Library of Congress, is more famous/prestigous, but this one is older by centuries).  I subscribed to the following oath:

“I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custory; not to bring into the Library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.” 


Upon this undertaking I was admitted to the most impressive library on earth.  I walked through the endless reading rooms.  Asked about rules and such (Can I bring in my laptop?   Yes.  Can I leave it over night?  No.  Can I bring in food?  or drink?  No.)  The WC’s have this sign on their doors: “Women Readers” and “Men Readers” . . . I nearly peed in my pants looking for the Men’s room, until I realized these were not separate-by-gender reading areas, but restrooms!  I then went to the ancient documents and books section and asked if I could look at the original edition of T. Hobbes, The Leviathan.  And was told, “Certainly, Sir.  But first go to the request desk and fill in a form, and you can inspect The Leviathan at this desk.”  Feeling a little faint, I decided to wait until another day for that.

I walked home just now past Christ Church College  (from which no less than 13 Prime Ministers of England have graduated) where Lewis Carol was a student, fell in love with the Dean’s daughter (Alice) and was in Wonderland for the rest of his life.  And then I walked on along to my little flat above the River Thames, No. 2 Folly Bridge.  Turns out that where Folly Bridge stands was once the cattle and livestock ford for the Medieval town . . . and thus the name “Oxford.”

Hope all of you are well.  Much talk here of the plane crash in New York, and of the plain crash of every capital market on the planet.  But I had a lovely day . . . and I hope you did too.  

Cherrie Oh!

4 Responses to “A Day in Search of the Beast”

  1. 1 Kevin O'Brien January 16, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Buie, I can’t wait to hear of your experience in reading the original edition of the Leviathan Index! Indeed, I look forward to reading all your postings as you progress through this significant research project. You truly are at the right place and right time.

    Kevin O’Brien
    Interim Department Chair
    Business Ethics & Legal Studies
    Daniels College of Business

  2. 2 MIke Pfarrer January 17, 2009 at 6:40 am


    Much good cheer to you as you roam the dusty halls. If there were ever “knowledge by osmosis,” then you are surely in the right place. I am happy for your chance to experience this. Have a (half-priced) pint on us.


  3. 3 Craig Barnes January 19, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Buie, you rascal, it is wonderful to think of you over there! I am green with envy.

    Do be aware, however, that all Oxfordians should be viewed with suspicion. They have a record of shielding kings, persecuting lawyers and suspending protestant ministers upside down for systematic evisceration. As an American democrat, lawyer, and aberrant preacher you should not linger, frequent or seek out dark alleys. Do not, either, return to the Turf Tavern without an escort. I am available.

    Happy times. Keep it up and keep us posted!


  4. 4 BoydSails January 20, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Sir Buie:

    Wonderful update. Oh to be a kid again out for a play. While you did mention that the beer was cheap, you did not mention if it was tasty or not. These are the important details I am looking for.


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