Oxford Trails and Roman Holidays

The Oxford Mail has reported the Ashmolean Museum’s exhibit No Offence: Exploring LGBTQ+ Histories and notes an adjunct:

…the exhibition traverses epochs and continents, deftly showing the numerous ways in which LGBTQ+ lives and loves have been expressed across cultures and throughout history. But here in Oxford we do not have to look elsewhere to appreciate LGBTQ+ history and heritage. Our great city has been a hub of queer life and culture for centuries [… Reporter Naomi Herring’s] new app-based city trail produced to coincide with the Ashmolean’s No Offence exhibition, foregrounds just some of the stories which makes Oxford one of the world’s most extraordinary queer localities.

Here’s a description of one of the sites identified on Naomi Herring’s trail:

[…] Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel Brideshead Revisited (1945) was founded on his undergraduate life at Hertford College during the early 1920s, but the full depth and breadth of LGBTQ+ experiences in the city that [Oscar] Wilde called ‘the capital of romance’ is only now being appreciated.

The Ashmolean’s exhibit continues through 2 December but the LGBTQ+ trail will presumably survive beyond the exhibit’s closure. I was unable to locate a link to Naomi’s “app-based trail”.

Oxford graduate, journalist and novelist James Delingpole has reported in his Spectator column on his recent trip to Rome. He found the museums (especially at the Vatican) underwhelming and overtiring but the food sublime (especially a spaghetti carbonara sampled in Testaccio). On the basis of the trip, he asked himself:

Is [a trip to Rome] worth it? Only so you can knock it off the list of items on your bucket list and then tell all your friends how thoroughly overrated it is. St Peter’s Basilica especially. What a blowsy, kitsch monstrosity that is. Some of my best friends are Catholics — the soundest of the sound — and I’ve occasionally toyed with the idea of doing an Evelyn Waugh and joining them. But I didn’t come away thinking that the papacy is a very good recruitment advert.

In his Thinly Disguised Autobiography (2003) Delingpole may have inadvertently contributed some sites on the Oxford Mail’s LGBTQ+ trail. The early Oxford chapters of the book are replete with allusions to Brideshead Revisited such as this:

..Rufus proposes a visit to George’s Wine Bar so that we can get very,very drunk. We order our usual Brandy Alexanders–creme de cacao, brandy and fresh cream. It’s what Anthony Blanche drinks with Charles Ryder…so it’s what we must drink too. (p. 17)

That is apparently the same “George bar” where Charles watched Anthony down four of the drinks (called “Alexandra cocktails” in Waugh’s novel, May 1945 edition, p. 43). The antihero of Delingpole’s novel, however, is at pains to disavow any homosexuality on his part despite constant ragging by his chums, so any associations of the novel with the trail might better be avoided.

Perhaps now that Delingpole is back home, he can finish the third volume of his “Coward in WWII” series entitled Coward in the Woods. It has been listed on Amazon since 2012 and has been duly assigned ISBNs, but its appearance is still mysteriously delayed.

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