There are nine of us in the class, plus the 50-60 others here for classes ranging from the architecture of English parish churches to screenwriting. After just one lecture, plus dinner and a wine reception in the courtyard afterwards, here are the suspects in a classic English murder mystery.
Ken is a ruddy-cheeked, white-haired man who is slightly suspicious of Darwin and laments the influx of Pakistanis and Indians in his Lancashire village.
Mohammed grew up in Chad and northern Sudan, speaking Arabic in the streets and the local language at home, now living in Oxford and studying law.
Kumi teaches English in Japan and has a dead-on American accent and a twinkling smile.
Stu is a retired engineer and businessman who did something with highly fired ceramic parts for jet engines and used to visit England regularly in the course of business. He's staying at the Malmaison, the former prison turned into an upscale hotel.
Astrid is Norwegian, with long dyed blonde hair and dark mascara, a mother and grandmother who does something administrative in education. Her English is a bit tentative so she's rather quiet so far.
Jerry is a recently retired geriatrician with a quick mind and a good grasp of genetics. He has twice referred to Richard Dawkins as "derivative" and not doing any original work, but I am enjoying his company anyway.
Barbara is a retired journalist who spent some time in western Canada in the fifties during the aluminum mining boom and makes it sound fascinating. Who knew?
Maurice is a twenty-year-old Scandinavian (I think) with dark, slicked-back hair and I can't quite figure out why in the world he is doing this.
I hope that neither Inspector Alleyn nor Albert Campion is needed, but doesn't it sound like the beginning of so many mysteries?
Then there's Emma, who's forthright, well organized, and very knowledgeable. She's good at eliciting questions from us and promises to be a good teacher. Another lecture this morning (which consists of us sitting around a table and talking), then tutorials this afternoon. This means twenty minutes talking with her about our essays (which some people haven't done, can you believe it?) and discussing our final essay or presentation.
Talking with Jerry, Barbara and Stu at the wine reception last night was very enjoyable in a nerdly way. It's kind of like being on the Newbery committee - where else will you find another group of people who have read with the same focus that you have? (Ignoring the fact that they were all amazed that I have actually done the reading... hmmm.)
Time to hop out of bed and head to breakfast and more Darwin. Cloudy and cool.