Oxford’s Literary Festival began 20 years ago and has been housed in many different locations. Inspired by the poetry that is soon to dance upon the stage of the Festival (April 2nd) I stand with a coffee and watch as the tents are put up in the Old Schools Quadrangle.
The workmen look to be making the most of a break in the weather. Rain clears after ‘Storm Katie’ moves out of the South of England taking grey clouds with it. A blue sky is a blessing and the only Half-Light left behind is the one formed by the shadows of overlapping tall buildings along narrow lanes.
The packed Festival programme is getting ready to start here in Oxford with my personal highlight being Actor and Film-star Ian McKellen appearing. The tents are being set up along with the handy temporary coffee shop. It’s a great place to hang out with old and new friends.
It’s magical how the tent fits the space between the old libraries exactly. It stands on a part of the old library that is buried underground and has a mini shuttle train to move books from one end to the other.
The thought of books and cakes enjoyed together reminds me of how peoples stories unfold and become part of everyday life in a fairly random and totally meaningful way. The story below is inspired by my festival excitement.
‘Ham and cheese croissant?
Earl grey tea for here?’
He comes in everyday after walking a quarter mile. He never leaves before lunch. I didn’t know where he goes after. He says very little. He finds his soul floating like a forgotten broken biscuit on the coffee of life. He does not forget his friends. We are the barista team of his dreams.
I make chocolate macchiato he says no, he remarks he was so hyper active last time and he will have an espresso if it is free. Yesterday he says he had three.
I remind him we close for Easter and I wonder where he will go.
He always plays favourites, pitching us one against another and we fall for his tricks. We cover the fact we are busy to make space for his brave courageous spirit in our otherwise bland place of work. He leaves and it will be 24 hours before he returns. Time goes fast when you don’t follow your passion.
I stand in front of the coffee machine wanting something to ignite. Not even warm. I make a chocolate shake to take away and remember to pick it up before home time. It, like all our drinks and my badge, has my name on. That makes the drinks taste better. They belong to us. Personal touch is still worth much.
I didn’t know where he was going for a long time. His jokes are fresher than our cakes. He moves on to being a regional manager somewhere and has a new team. I hear they love him just as much.
Another highlight at the Festival is the amazing Actress Maureen Lipman performing poetry along with jazz being played to celebrate the 20th year of this festival .. information is here
It will be a great week, just don’t mention the boat race! (Not the best result this year 😦 )