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The Warp

First Sight Folly Bridge

I was punting with John Rickett. We went down the Cherwell to where it joins the huge silver waters of the Thames (in these parts known as the Isis). We punted up past the college barges and under a road bridge.

‘That’s Folly Bridge,’ said John as a tall brick and stone building rose from the water beside us, ‘where the jungle live.’

Gauntly the brick and stone building rose sheer out of the water, insubstantial as an unquiet sigh, rising from the waters in the night. From the water level of the punt it seemed very high. John continued, ‘They’re called ‘the jungle’ because they have wild habits.’

‘What’s more,’ he continued with some satisfaction, ‘they had a police raid last week.’

Nude figures on a balcony, a crowd along the opposite shore, whatever had brought police officers to this house, he explained, they were rumoured to be on their way a few minutes before they arrived. The guests were herded into a bedroom so that when the police arrived they found the host alone in a room filled with bottles and glasses. ‘You’re too late,’ he told them. ‘They’ve all gone home.’

‘But is it against the law to give parties?’ I asked.

Caught by an eddy the bows of the punt rasped against the stonework below a small postern. The punt was swept downstream, away back under the bridge.

That was an early sighting of Folly Bridge, the castellated place that later was to be my home.


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