This video was made over two decades ago, and was shown last week at Bob’s memorial service. Now it makes its debut on YouTube.
Archive for the 'oxford' Category
Anne, in comments below, reminds me that this weekend is, apparently, Alice Weekend here in Oxford. That would explain why there’s a rather good picture of the Mock Turtle just inside the Bodleian Library this week.
Lewis Carroll didn’t just write the Alice books, of course. He also liked to take photographs of young girls–a subject on which Kate Middleton, curiously enough, is an authority, as it was the subject of her undergraduate dissertation at St Andrews. Here’s one of them:
And these are three of my great-great aunts: Honor, Evelyn, and Olive Brooke. (Photo reproduced from over here.)
Honor, the oldest girl here, is the one I’m interested in. She first crossed my radar screen when I came across a footnote in Yvonne Kapp’s classic life of Eleanor Marx, reporting that Brooke, Marx and Edith Lees (later Mrs Havelock Ellis) addressed a rally to support the strike in Silvertown on 29 November 1889. I don’t know anything else about any connection she had to Marx, outside of the information reported in this post, but she was for a time very close to Lees, with Havelock Ellis writing that, “I do not know how they met, but I know that Miss Brooke, with a self-sacrificing devotion and skill that called out Edith’s deep love, nursed her back to health” after a nervous breakdown. And she features in a passage by Lees that is occasionally reprinted in studies of late ninteenth-century feminism:
How well I remember, after the first performance of Ibsen’s drama [A Doll's House] in London, with Janet Achurch as Nora, when a few of us collected outside the theater breathless with excitement. Olive Schreiner was there and Dolly Radford the poetess, Dr. Alice Corthorn, Honor Brooke (Stopford Brooke’s eldest daughter,) Mrs. Holman Hunt and Eleanor Marx. We were restive and impetuous and almost savage in our arguments. This was either the end of the world or the beginning of a new world for women. What did it mean? Was there hope or despair in the banging of that door? Was it life or death for women? Was it joy or sorrow for men? Was it revelation or disaster? We almost cantered home. I remember that I was literally prostrate with excitement because of the new revelation.
Edith Lees / Ellis later wrote a novel, Attainment, with a lightly fictionalised account of the Brooke family in it, ‘Stanley Evans’ a barely disguised Stopford Brooke–who, I have now come to realise, was basically the Rev. Giles Fraser of his day (though he doesn’t come out of the novel especially well).
It’s not, however, a terribly good novel, all things considered. Here is a typical passage, from one of the heroine’s letters home, after she has recently fallen in with ‘Robert Dane’, i.e., William Morris:
I came to Stanley Evans to help to reform the masses. I must be on the verge of delirium, for I feel that the masses are reforming me. I am ashamed to go and offer my patronage any more to these desperately tired people. I try to shake myself free from the convictions that are creeping over me, but they won’t go. Who is Karl Marx, Daddy? What does he know about the poor?
Bonus Kate Middleton-themed bit of trivia (since this has ended up being a post about Victorian feminist aunts): she’s Harriet Martineau’s great-great-great-great-great niece. (Ah–I see in fact that the Daily Telegraph has covered this already, reporting that there is ‘more than a passing resemblance’, apparently.)
Like many other people, I thought Evan Harris was safe in Oxford West and Abingdon. There was a reason for thinking he might not be: the constituency boundaries had been redrawn to include less of Oxford and its student-heavy city centre, and more of the outlying Tory villages, but I was inclined to discount the importance of this. In general, the Lib Dems looked good in the polls, and, in particular, polling in marginals suggested that their vote was holding up well against the Tories. Harris’ majority was a healthy 7,683. And the Conservative candidate clearly looked like a bit of an idiot. So, as I say, I thought he was safe.
If I’d really thought he was in danger, I might have voted tactically on the day to try and save him. After all, I’m a not-terribly-tribal tribal Labour person (just as Andromache – who left a dead mouse in our bed this morning – is a not-terribly-wild wild animal). I voted in the Compass ballot to endorse the issuing of a statement in support of anti-Conservative tactical voting, and, more generally, I think the Lib Dems are a less toxic political formation than the Conservatives. If politics really were just about choosing between them, then it wouldn’t be difficult to choose.
But I voted Labour instead, and I learned later in the evening that – basically – it’s people like me who denied Harris his victory. Harris lost by a minuscule 176 votes, and there were almost six thousand Labour votes, so only 3% of those Labour supporters had to switch their votes, in order for him to be safe. And, as time passes, I’m more and more glad I cast the vote I did.
I’ve heard that on election day, the Lib Dems were sending their local activists into Oxford East to help defeat the local Labour MP Andrew Smith, thinking that Evan Harris had the OxWAb election in the bag. And Labour supporters in OxWAb who might be tempted to vote for the Lib Dems need to be clear about this. If we cast an effective anti-Tory tactical vote in this constituency by voting for Evan Harris, what we are doing is helping to provide support for the Lib Dem anti-Labour campaign in the next constituency along. It’s much better for the Labour Party in Oxford that OxWAb is highly marginal between the Lib Dems and the Tories, and that this constituency sucks in as much campaigning effort as possible from the Lib Dems, so that we can concentrate on the important stuff, like winning Oxford East and controlling the City Council. (And, yes, both goals were achieved in Thursday’s election.)
There’s a tweet going round that reads like this:
A curious statistic: Oxford’s combined vote: LD: 41087 Con: 33633 Lab: 27937. One Con MP, one Lab MP. #electoralreform
On the face of it, that’s not a bad argument in support of some kind of reformed voting system — and, in general, I support some kind of reformed voting system. But appearances can be misleading. The Lib Dem raw total, for example, includes both those Labour supporters who cast a tactical pro-Harris vote in OxWAb and those Tory and Green supporters who cast a tactical anti-Smith vote in Oxford East. And so on. We live in a system that encourages tactical voting, as first-choices will so often not be available – so it’s tricky to use the numbers thrown up by that system straightforwardly as evidence for its unfairness.
What we can say is that a set of elections were held on Thursday in Oxford – in two parliamentary constituencies and in every ward for the City Council. The parties fought the elections on the same terms as each other, and under the same rules, and all of the local parties had plausible aspirations: the bigger parties to win parliamentary seats, and the Greens to win seats on the City Council. Those local parties pursued particular tactics and strategies to try to maximise their electoral gains, and the choices they made shaped the outcome of those elections. And those elections threw up a very clear winner — the Labour Party — and a very clear loser — the Lib Dems. The Oxford Lib Dems misunderstood what was going on around them and they over-reached, making a set of bad political choices. They thought they could win everything, and instead they won nothing. And, yes, the voting system has punished them, but not – it seems to me – unfairly.
I’d reach for the language of hubris and nemesis, but these are the Lib Dems we’re talking about, and for them (especially today, of all days, as they engage in talks with the Tories to put David Cameron into Downing St) the appropriate language isn’t that of tragedy.
It’s comedy: hahahahahaha.
Votes in the Jericho & Osney ward here in Oxford have just been counted:
Susanna Pressel (Labour) 1793 votes ELECTED
Catherine Hilliard (Lib Dem) 769 votes
Bill Wilson (Conservative) 513 votes
Kaihsu Tai (Green) 311 votes.
And, once again, results in Oxford are going against the national trend, and it looks as if the local Labour party is going to be consolidating its grip on the City Council.
If you’re curious about why Andrew Smith held on comfortably in Oxford East (despite the fact that the Lib Dem challenger was really quite good) and the Lib Dems crashed and burned in OxWAb (where the Tory challenger was clearly bonkers), then Don Paskini has a very plausible explanation. It certainly rings true to me: in two decades or so of writing to MPs, Evan Harris has been easily the worst correspondent with whom I’ve ever had to deal, and constituents remember this kind of thing.
“I was involved in three long-running arguments over the course of my career. The first was with the Althusserians, on Marx’s theory of history, and I knew what that was about. The second was with Nozick, on self-ownership, and I knew what that was about. The third was with Dworkin, on expensive tastes, and I still have no idea what that was about.”
(Imperfect paraphrase from memory of conversation a few years ago.)
Jerry Cohen collapsed yesterday and died this morning.
The words that follow were written by Frederick Engels to Friedrich Adolph Sorge on 15 March 1883, the day after his friend Karl Marx had died, they are words that Jerry knew very well and in which he found inspiration, and they seem appropriate for this very sad morning.
Be that as it may, mankind is shorter by a head, and the greatest head of our time at that. The proletarian movement goes on, but gone is its central figure to which Frenchmen, Russians, Americans and Germans spontaneously turned at critical moments, to receive always that clear incontestable counsel which only genius and a perfect understanding of the situation could give. Local lights and lesser minds, if not the humbugs, will now have a free hand. The final victory is certain, but circuitious paths, temporary and local errors – things which even now are so unavoidable – will become more common than ever. Well, we must see it through. What else are we here for?
And we are not near losing courage yet.
[Picture credit: Chris Bertram]
News from the Jericho Community Boatyard Association over here.
Quas res melius aliis gentibus gesserunt Britanni? Neque in sphaeristica, ut puto, neque in coquina neque in fabulis musicis fingendis omnibus antecellunt. Sed si fabulas ad puerorum delectationem inventas examinaverimus, adfirmare fortasse audebimus nullum esse populum quem ea in arte non superaverimus. Praeterea, magna pars eorum qui libros pueris optime scripserunt Oxoniam nostram habitavit; plerique in hac universitate studuerunt atque docuerunt. Tamesis prope ripam Grahameius ventum inter salices susurrantem audivit; qui etiam hac in urbe est sepultus. Oxoniae Alicia terram mirabilium intravit; Oxoniae gens hobbitorum nata est; Oxoniae porta ad Narniam est aperta. At hic quem nunc produco hunc ipsum locum vel maioribus laudibus ornavit, quippe qui in suis fabulis Oxoniam lepide descripserit et, ut ita dicam, dramatis sui personam fecerit.
Primus Carolus Kingsley, ut videtur, cum de infantibus aquaticis scriberet, id genus fabulae invenit quod puerum vel pueros in alium mundum transfert et aliquando in nostrum rursus reducit. Quem secutus est Ludovicus Carolus, ubi Aliciam ad terram mirabilium et per speculum misit, postea etiam is qui de Petro Pane scripsit, mox Clivus Lewis, denique hic quem hodie videmus. Hoc tamen modo ab aliis differt, quod mundo illo ficto ad naturam animi humani scrutandam usus est. Socrates quidem daemonis se monitu saepe corrigi credidit; hic daemona unumquemque hominem, sive iuvenis sit sive senex, manifeste comitari fingens, arcana indolis et ingenii nostri in apertum protrahit. Itaque cum puerulos delectat innumerabiles, tum lectores adultos alicit atque arrigit. Quare ut Horatius Romanae se lyrae fidicinem vocavit, ita nos Lyrae Oxoniensis cantorem salutemus.
Praesento textorem fabularum sollertissimum, Philippum Nicolaum Outram Pullman, Excellentissimi Ordinis Britannici Commendatorem, Collegii Exoniensis et alumnum et socium honoris causa adscriptum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris.
[over the fold for the translation]
The annual intercollegiate tortoise race was held yesterday here at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Blue Peter showed up to cover the race, bringing the official Blue Peter tortoise. And, after being placed in the middle of the race circle, one of the tortoises successfully mounted one of the other tortoises.
This just in. No idea who or what is behind it. Sounds fun, though.
Reminder: Republic Day â€“ 17 March 2009
On 17 March 1649, Parliament voted to abolish the office of king, and England became a republic until 1660. We will be marking the 360th anniversary of that historic occasion,Â and reaffirming the current relevance of the issues raised then â€“ the monarchy and House of Lords, democratic rights and civil liberties â€“ with a rally in Oxford town centre.
Professor David Norbrook to speak
We are delighted to confirm that amongst the speakers will be Professor David Norbrook, Merton Professor of Renaissance English literature at Oxford University, and author of such works asÂ Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance andÂ Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric and Politics, 1627-1660.
Also speaking will be city councillors John Tanner (Labour) and David Williams (Green Party), as well as Bill MacKeith on behalf of Oxford and District Trades Union Council, and representatives from a variety of left and progressive organisations from the city.Â We will also read out a message of support we have received, from theÂ Society for Robespierrist Studies, an association of French scholars who specialize in revolutionary history.
Event:Â Republic Day outdoor rally
Date:Â Tuesday 17 March
Time:Â 6pm to 7pm (approx.)
From the Ruskin School website:
The film director Stevan Riley will be coming to Oxford at 4.30pm on Friday 27 February to screen his brilliant documentary Blue Blood in the auditorium at Magdalen College.
Blue Blood follows a group of Oxford students in the run-up to the Varsity boxing match and stars ex-Ruskin School undergraduate Charles Ogilvie.
Stevan will introduce the film and he, Charlie and others will contribute to a round-table discussion immediately afterwards.
Variety described it as one of the better sports movies in recent memory, but Blue Blood is also a wonderful story about obsession and the search for personal identity.
There’s a copy of Hegel’s Outlines of the Philosophy of Right in the window of Blackwells with a “buy one, get one free” sticker on it.