Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Julie Christie, the Lamb and Flag and being rude about elves

Good news from Oxford where my favourite pub in the city, the Lamb and Flag, is to come back to life. 

It was closed at the end of January by its owner, St John's College, because of difficult trading conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pub, according to the college's website, is to reopen thanks to an agreement with

a diverse and eclectic mix of Oxford people, past and present, scientists and entrepreneurs, writers and artists, Town and Gown, as well as local businesses and suppliers.

This assemblage is called 'The Inklings Group' in honour of a set of academics and writers, including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, who used to meet there under this name.

One reason I like the Lamb and Flag is that it's less associated with the Inklings than the dark and hobbit-ridden Eagle and Child across the road. This has been going through its own Covid-driven cycle of closing and reopening.

If I have a hero among the original Inklings it is Hugo Dyson. Legend maintains that he responded to Tolkien's reading of The Lord of the Rings as a work in progress with " Oh fuck! Not another elf!"

Dyson is an obscure figure today, but he did have his 15 minutes of fame in 1965. Having been noticed giving television lectures on Shakespeare, he appeared with Dirk Bogarde and Julie Christie in the film Darling, playing a literary lion. 

You can see his scene with them below.


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