Evil Knievil: An Oxford wit

1 mins. to read
Evil Knievil: An Oxford wit

My wife keeps on putting books on my desk which I have never read and probably never will. Our problem is that our flat simply has far too many books and we have not got the space to hold them, particularly as I keep on buying more.

However, a day or two ago I was handed a book of ancient Greek poetry translated into English by two Oxford dons, one of which was the famous Maurice Bowra, warden of Wadham College from 1938 to 1970. Bowra was a famous wit as the following three tales confirm:

It is said that Bowra was lying on his hotel bed in Berlin before the war when in strode Hitler and some of his chums. Hitler promptly stuck his arm out and declared Heil Hitler. Bowra sprung up from his bed and also stuck his arm out declaring Heil Bowra.

Bowra was phenomenally clever and knew everything and this got his fellow dons down. So they all resolved to bone up on Persian pottery and discuss it over dinner to exclude Bowra, who duly remained silent throughout the evening. However, as he got up to leave, he declared that he was delighted to learn that his colleagues had all read his article on Persian pottery in Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Finally, as those readers who know Oxford will confirm, there is another river besides the Thames. This is the Cherwell which meanders towards Oxford on the eastern side of the city. Not long before it enters Oxford it splits such that a turn to the right takes punts through a male nudist section Parsons Pleasure. There is a notice barring punts carrying women from taking this turn. Anyway, whether wilfully or not, a punt with women took the turn into Parsons Pleasure and three dons were sitting around reading their newspapers. Two sprung up and covered their genitals with their newspapers but Bowra just covered his head leaving his genitals fully displayed. Challenged as to his conduct, Bowra remarked that he did not know how his two colleagues were known in Oxford but that he was known by his face.

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