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Jericho street

Happy Birthday Sarah Webster

Having brought a copy back from Vancouver with me, I am re-reading Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass for what could certainly be the fiftieth time. No book of mine has been read more often, though I probably read Michael Crighton‘s The Andromeda Strain at least thirty times in elementary school (it was profoundly frightening).

Pullman’s book is superb; the protagonist, literally, my hero. The book definitely affected my decision to come to Oxford. Even having read it so many times, the surprising parts remain just that, and the parts that I have always enjoyed most are still compelling. Those who have not read it should.

Some parts are even better after you’ve had a year in Oxford to learn the layout and the names of places. Though today’s Jericho, as you see above, is nothing like what I imagined, on the basis of the book. This has also been a year in which I did not have a copy of the book (despite buying at least four as gifts for friends).

Meeting Mr. Pullman may also have affected my thinking, though I have an odd tendency to confuse him – especially in dreams – with Tony Price.

[Update: 6:00am] Insomniac, yes (though I was woken by a special alarm). I wanted to note my special appreciation for Lapland witches. Pullman discusses them at length, but they derive from Paradise Lost (II, 622–666).

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

B October 2, 2006 at 2:22 am

Can Dakota Blue Richards possibly live up to this?

Milan October 2, 2006 at 2:29 am


I am profoundly of two minds about even seeing the film. Lots of books I had read before seeing the films, which I did not approve of, are still coloured by the experience. Safer not to, unless it gets five or more rave reviews from people who I really trust.

Anonymous October 2, 2006 at 2:36 am

You told me once that you hoped that you would one day have a daughter to read this book to. I expect that’s still true.

Milan October 2, 2006 at 2:48 am

There are only a handfull of people who I would ever have told such a thing to. Why use ‘Anonymous’ to identify yourself?

Anonymous October 2, 2006 at 3:09 am


“Knot but a moment passes.” You should know who I am.

Milan October 2, 2006 at 3:13 am

Of course, Mr or Ms X. Don’t go throwing aroung codephrases in public places!

If it was an important one, I would have to censor it. Don’t use it again.

Sean October 2, 2006 at 6:04 am

I always like that row of houses. Very different from your average street where all the homes look the same.

Kara October 2, 2006 at 4:36 am

It is a very fine trilogy, I admit. Do you like the first one most?

Milan October 2, 2006 at 11:13 am


Yes, I do. Though I have also read it far more times than the others.

Milan October 2, 2006 at 11:15 am


Rows of multicolour houses always remind me of this street in Burano, an island near Venice.

tony October 2, 2006 at 2:52 pm

I’m not sure which is more worrying: being confused with Philip Pullman (even in dreams), or being dreamed about at all… Doesn’t a chap have any intellectual or other property rights about what and whether people dream about him?

Milan October 2, 2006 at 4:16 pm


I thought you would find it strange, and it is. In fairness, you both write, you both live in Oxford, you are both concerned with theology, and you look at least a little bit alike.

One upshot of having your sleep pattern horribly disrupted is that your sleep is constantly interrupted by noise and light. As such, you are much more likely to remember dreams.

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