I am sorry I left you abruptly at Arts End. It was such that I found myself unable to describe it. As we left it, I asked The Librarian why Hitler had spared Oxford. It wasn’t the kindness of the pilots of the Luftwaffe–after each mission they had orders to pepper extra bombs over the countryside. Except on Oxford.
“There were potential targets here, too,” said The Librarian, “because of the factories.” So why? “Oh, Hitler really admired Oxford. He planned to live here after he won the war.”
Returning first to the ground level of the Divinity School, The Librarian then led us deep into the belly of the Bod, where we suddenly found ourselves aboard the Death Star. I began searching frantically for the imprisoned Princess Leia, only realizing we were in the tunnel under Radcliffe Square when we passed under a thick glass pothole cover thing.
The rain running off of the cobbles of Radcliffe Square above still leaks through on wet days, according to The Librarian.
Coming up from the tunnel, we walked through the underground stacks of the Gladstone Link and up into the Radcliffe Camera. We began in the Lower Camera, where tall windows interrupt towering shelves of books. The tables under them were filled with readers. “In term I have to get here early to get a seat,” said Alex. To reach the Upper Camera, one has to exit the Lower Reading Room and climb a broad staircase that runs across the front door, curling around and around inside the dome. At the top, wooden doors, and the Upper Camera.
Oh, the things my eyes have seen. It was so beautiful. Just windows and tables and books and beauty, a gallery running around it, a gorgeous dome above. The books it houses are mainly English and History, the subjects of my own university studies. That means this is my library. I instantly planned a return to academics. Alex can study downstairs, I’ll study up here, the girls can . . . the girls! I had promised the dear friend caring for them that I would return by 2:30. We profusely thanked our kind and knowledgeable Librarian for his time. It was so, so good of him.
I have taken a picture of the door of the Radcliffe Camera so many times. On the way out, I took one from it. Our tour of the Bodleian had taken just one hour.
*No librarians were hurt during the making of this series.
In Part One it may have seemed like Alex wheedled his way in. In fact, he simply asked an acquaintance he’s made who was very willing to show us around–many thanks to him!