Memories of Oxford
The story behind the poem
where I went to University to study French and Spanish, was very
beautiful as I've attempted to describe. There can be few water meadows more
luxuriant than Christ Church Meadows, and few sounds more
poignant and stomach-stirring than the birdsong at dusk and the bells
which could be heard at intervals all through the day and the night.
However some of the darkest moments I have ever experienced occurred
there. I fell ill at the beginning of what should have been my final
year, and then, having gone home for the remainder of that year and
returned to resume my studies the following year, I fell ill again but
had to persist if I was to achieve any sort of degree. It was hell and it scarred me for life.
I doubt I would have managed but for the friendship of a nun at All Saints, an Anglican Convent which was shortly to found Helen House, a famous hospice for terminally ill children. In
her letter to me congratulating me on obtaining my degree, this nun
added: "You should have got the George Cross with it." It was one of
the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.
by Damaris West
Read the poem
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