In Oxford, city of dreaming spires, Nick is curled into the doorway of a twelfth-century church, fast asleep. His Australian kelpie sits at his feet. A paper cup, part-filled with coins, sits by the dog. When a thief steals the animal and the money, Oxonians are aghast. A search begins. The news spreads, and mannered British hearts are broken.
Oxford has been home to royalty and scholars for over eight hundred years. The city centre is dominated by the thirty-six University colleges, most famously Christ Church, Trinity, and Balliol. To press your palm to the thousand-year-old stonework of the Saxon Tower at St Michael at the North Gate Church is to be filled with wonder.
I was there in early spring, 2012, and at the same time in early 2013 for the Oxford Literary Festival.
In 2012, the city was all magnolias, punting and short sleeves. In 2013, England was shivering through its coldest March in fifty years. The snow was wet and the wind pushing along Broad Street, past the Sheldonian Theatre, the Bodleian Library, and the Museum of the History of Science was so cold it made breathing hard work. Homeless people were everywhere. They huddled in alcoves and doorways, their dogs wrapped in blankets. I learned that Oxford had the highest rate of homelessness in England, outside London. I learned about the theft of a homeless man’s dog. And I discovered what happened next.
Where can I read it?