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The Warp


I fell in love with Folly Bridge

I fell in love with Folly Bridge and negotiated with the landlord that the whole of it would come into my hands for a year. These negotiations were conducted with him as, a large hairy man, he sat naked in his garden not far from Folly Bridge. Next to him sat his naked wife.

That was my third and last year at Oxford. Six of us lived in the house and we thought of it as a small college and I was known as the warden. I chose for myself two rooms on the first floor. It was approached up a dank staircase with views through a long window down to the river. My living room contained a large round table and a candelabra hanging from above the window, suspended on a long harpoon. I hung the room with wallpaper in scarlet and gold, fastened with drawing pins

Beyond this first room lay a bathroom. I converted it into a bedroom by perching a bed-base and mattress on top of the bath. Drapes hung down all round to conceal it. Next to the head of the bed, a narrow very long iron-framed window ran from the top of the room down to the floor. From my bed I could see down through this window to the grey water swirling far below and swans gliding round the foundations of the house.

Floating down there was a canoe which I had brought up from Eye on the top of my father’s Jaguar. The boat was tethered to a narrow iron barred gate that, encased in a slender moss encrusted brick arch, opened on to the water. On fine mornings I carried cereal, fruit and milk down through this arch and breakfasted in the canoe, drifting down the Isis past the college barges and boathouses. I returned through a series of dank subterranean watery tunnels that ran under the busy road that crosses the river at Folly Bridge.


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