Grieving with CS lewis
25th September 2013
Day begins with a drive around Heddington and other Oxford suburbs in search of places where CS Lewis and his close lady friend
Janey Moore camped and decamped when Jack returned from Flanders in 1918. Pete, our driver, usually conducts groups of American fundamentalist Christians who
want to see the places the hem of his garment touched Oxford, but carting us about, me squeezed in the nearside footwell, Andrew resplendent in his green
courduroy on the back seat, seems to be rather more enjoyable for him.
The highlight of the day, however, is a painfully beautiful long tracking shot across the back of the Magdalen College Delegates Room, in the golden September light slanting in through huge windows as striped as the inside of a Paul Smith jacket. The oak panels of the walls are positively vibrating with colour, and alone away across acres of table-top sits A Wilson dwelling on the original manuscript for Lewis' Grief Observed, written after the death of his American wife. It seems that those in emotional turmoil make pilgrimages to come and be near the thing - a few sheets, handwritten as all his works were, with a dip-pen, every fifth or sixth word freshly blue and blotty and apparently created as in a stream of consciousness, almost without corrections.
History is in reverse as we finish the day at the Eastgate hotel where the brief but fiery relationship with Joy began. Louche on a chesterfield in the lobby where they met, Andrew lolls with one arm thrown out, revealing a dandy detail - a scarlet hankie tucked inside his sleeve. Delicious.