...in the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, said Tennyson -- and so, it seems, does a young frog's. I've had some evidence of this today. First of all, today was the start of the Oxford Literary Festival, and I went along to Christ Church (or, technically, to Corpus Christi) to hear the eminent Professor Stanley Wells talk about his latest book. Now, though the prof is best known to some people as the husband of Susan Hill, he is of course one of the country's greatest experts on Shakespeare. And his latest book is called Shakespeare, Sex and Love. This was the sort of occasion that makes me very happy to have moved to Oxford -- it managed to be both learned and racy, in the nicest possible way. I know rather a lot about Shakespeare, having been more or less raised on him, so there were not many surprises here, but it was so enjoyable to be able to sit back and wallow is some good, clear-minded, highly intelligent arguments. If you'd like to see Prof Wells talking about the book for yourself, you should be able to do so here.
It's been a rainy day and not very springlike in appearance, but this afternoon I wanted some fresh air so I went for a walk in the park across the road. As I meandered along I saw a young man stop and peer into the rather murky little stream that runs alongside the path. When I caught up with him I asked him what he was looking at, and he drew my attention to a spot a few yards further up. As I got closer I heard this extraordinary sound, a sort of bubbly croaking, and noticed that the water seemed to be alive. Of course closer inspection revealed it to be an absolute mass of frogs, busily engaged in just the kind of activities the prof had been so learnedly discoursing about, though these were directed at producing frog-spawn, of which there was already a great deal. It was quite a sight. Tennyson could have included something about it all in Locksley Hall, but he just concentrated on the birds (who were singing their heads off this afternoon):In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;
In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.