Friday 23 March 2007


I went to the Oxford Literary Festival for the day. I grew up there and find it strange yet vaguely comforting. It’s all honey-coloured stone and leering gargoyles and it looks like the 21st century has elbowed its way in, only to find a forgotten tribe of 14th century architecture ganging up on it. Only in Oxford would I find that a curry house I knew has been converted into a bookshop, reversing a countrywide trend. Only there would I wander up a slender alleyway I had forgotten and discover a pub I had forgotten, which, on further inspection hasn’t changed a bit since I was last there in 1983.

Talking of change, is the move to calibrating petrol in litres some kind of trick perpetrated by the people in charge of the country? I suspect that it is. Yes I know we are going metric, but if so, why is mpg used for fuel consumption when you buy your petrol in litres? Easy, mpg is a bigger number, price per litre lower. The price of unleaded petrol is now around £4.00 per gallon. I discovered that when I was working out that the cost of the journey in the Prius for the 100 mile roundtrip (2 gallons, or 9.1 litres of fuel = £7.90 - I’d bought cheap petrol at Waitrose). Plus wear and tear of course. Which got me thinking. My journey was carefully planned. I’d allowed no time for delays. What if broke down on my way back? Who would pick my daughter up? What if my wife were uncontactable? I’d probably be arrested as I stepped down from the cab of the AA lorry. “We’re usually quite understanding when a mother does that sir, but seeing as you’re a man it clearly demonstrates that you are incapable of childcare. So it’s straight down to the slammer with you.”

On my way through a typical cobbled and leafy Oxford street I saw a whisky shop (only in Oxford etc) and thought “Oh my father would like something from there”. I do this all the time. I’m always wanting to point things out to my daughter while I’m driving along and she’s asleep in the car or not even in it.

Anyway, the journey back went well and I arrived at nursery early. “You were quick” said my daughter as she tripped down the steps.

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