Every year, myself and my family trek on an adventure across the country to see the incredible 'Giffords Circus.' For those unaware, Giffords is a unique eclectic dressing up box of talent. In the space of two hours, you feel yourself reverting back to your childhood, and appreciating the creative euphoria of literature, song, dance, whilst howling at 'Tweedy' the clown adorned with a neon orange quiff and a pet 'iron' he pulls around on a lead. If you know, you know.
However, I feel my trip to Giffords this year will be far more potent in my memories when I reflect back over the archives of this little turf of internet I call my own in years to come. This year, we decided to go to Stadhampton, a town or village (it was late, I'd had a few sips of alcohol, and my Geography lets me down, so I apologise to any possible Stadhamptian readers) a few miles away from Oxford.
Most people fear ghosts, spiders *shivers* or the monster under the bed at night (I have been known on occasion to still check) but my fear that festered over the previous months of this year, was returning to Oxford. I took my first trip there, at the age of about 8, when my parents first took me to Oxford to listen to a lecture by Korky Paul (the creator of Winnie of the Witch - a crucial children's bedtime story). I remember walking into the lecture theatre amazed by the sheer scale of the room, considering I had never seen anything else apart from the four walls of education where I learnt the use of the full stop, and how to multiply integers. Mr Paul sparked my initial passion for English, or Literacy as we were taught back then - and I'll always remember when he signed my copy of his book, and doodled a large cartoon character on the inside of the cover. From Korky's creative skills, I decided to explore the streets of this unknown 'Oxford'. Then returning when I was 17 - I honestly do not know why I didn't visit in the 9 years in-between - I began taking frequent trips exploring the exceptional quads and climbing the endless flights of Harry Potter stairs amongst the colleges. And then of course, I decided to buy myself a 'University of Oxford' jumper and painted the illusion in my head that I was going to join the rowing team - despite my lacking abilities in the sporting field, and my tri's and bi's that cease to exist. And then the next thing I knew I was sitting the ELAT, writing an exam paper on 'Journeys'. Then came the email from UCAS.
I hate cliches immensely - cliches are sin. But I fear that in this instance, using one is simply unavoidable. I cried my heart out on a bleak day in January, and vowed that I would never return there again.
Then whilst we were travelling up the motorway towards Stadhampton - we had four hours to kill until the production. And so, with my clenched fists and forced smile, I decided to venture into the streets of Oxford.
I've always feared rejection. I guess now that I've truly felt it, and that nothing can be undone, I can accept it. I tell a lie there, I will never forget how I felt opening that email, and nor will I ever forget the intensity of wanting to go - but I've realised that it has moulded by attitudes and judgments as an individual and I've learnt that whenever I feel angry or distraught - it is best for one to buy a book(s). It keeps both the bookshops happy, and I suppose me, as my tear stains every page as I read on in sorrow. I'm glad that I returned to Oxford, and embraced its beauty, its architecture, and I did enjoy the three gin and tonics I necked in the Turf Taven that offers 'an education in intoxication.' And I will therefore thank Mr Paul, for drawing that cartoon in my book, and sharing the thoughts from his literary gift with me, so that maybe I too, when older, can inspire a clueless 8 year old, to put a pen on a page, and write.