the brick - issue 13 · trinity term 1998

Not now, Kershaw. I'm listening to Wagner.
Art Party at Freud's

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Not now, Kershaw. I'm listening to Wagner.

Fictional Keble history graduate, Adrian Kershaw, is the new assistant to Inspector Morse in 'The Wench Is Dead', the most recent Morse tale to be filmed. Real first-year English student, Elizabeth Stopford, invited author Colin Dexter into College to talk about Lewis's replacement.

The arrival of Kershaw, a Keble graduate, marks a radical departure from the Morse ­ Lewis relationship. It was prompted by the withdrawal of Kevin Whately, who plays Lewis, allegedly due to contractual problems. Whately is so identified with Lewis that it was impossible to keep the character without the actor, so Dexter invented a replacement.

Sadly, Kershaw's fame may be short-lived. Dexter claims to be rather weary of 'Morse', insisting this will be the last in the series. Yet the introduction of a new assistant carries the potential for a further development of the Morse character. Kershaw is no Lewis: the blunt, down-to-earth northener is replaced with an Oxford graduate who might be too clever for comfort. He is described in the stage script as, 'A young PCearly 20s, working class background but with the added gloss of an Oxford degree'.

Kershaw is clearly suited to the case in hand, the murder, in Victorian times, of a woman found by the Oxford canal. His historical knowledge easily eclipses Morse's own, and Morse feels threatened by the young graduate, even though he realises the worth of his intellect. During a scene in which Kershaw offers important information concerning the past use of some buildings, Morse asks how he knows all this. The probationer constable displays his irritation at the menial tasks he has been given. 'I got my degree in Oxford before I became a teaboy. First in history, Keble College. Like another, Sir?' Not the quickest way to Morse's heart!

Despite the ingenuity of his plots, and his Cambridge background (about which he is surprisingly reticent), Dexter appears to share Morse's attitude towards Oxford's intelligentsia. He has enormous respect for the brilliance of the dons, comparing their abilities to 'moving into fifth gear in a car'. Yet he retains a dislike of pretentiousness. This, perhaps, explains his own modesty, his self-deprecating persona. Dexter claims, 'I've never said anything significant in my life'.

His respect for learning, which he shares with Morse, is rooted in his childhood ­ it has been said that he writes all his novels for his English teacher. Dexter tells the story of a memorable classroom experience. The teacher asked everyone what they had been reading. When Dexter replied 'Scott', he was held up to the class as a 'cultured soul in a wilderness of Beanos'. Asked which Walter Scott novel he had been reading, Dexter told us he would have given the whole world to have been able to name any one. He had, in fact, been reading about Scott of the Antarctic.

Why Keble? Dexter has been involved with the College in the past. He used to speak on the Summer Schools organised by Jean Robinson and Christopher Ball in the 80s. Having been shown the 'voids' by Jean Robinson on one occasion, the College became the setting for The Settling of the Sun. He said of Keble (through Robert Hardy) in the television episode Twilight of the Gods (1993), that it was the most 'memorable' college in Oxford!

Let's hope Keble's own Adrian Kershaw will persuade his creator to give the beloved Endeavour Morse (for that, indeed, is his first name) a new lease of life.

Art Party at Freud's

Nazish Minhas reports on a night out that could start a trend.

Art met club culture in Fifth Week of Trinity, as a group called the 'Monopoly Collective' took over Freud's in Walton Street. Keble fresher Jamie Goodman helped organize and stage the event, entitled Colour is the Type of Love (a saying of John Ruskin's).

The event featured work by artists from Ruskin College ­ encompassing film, fashion, photography and painting ­ to the cutting-edge sounds of Drum 'n Bass and electronica. The aim was to achieve sensory enjoyment on as many levels as possible, and the eclecticism of the components worked with the chilled-out music to create a dynamic and stimulating atmosphere and a very successful evening.

The goal of the Collective is to promote student talent in a relaxed and sociable environment in which art is much more accessible. 'The talent is there,' explains Jamie, 'and Oxford students are capable of appreciating something more than a kebab-and-lager night out.' Monopoly Collective wants to make contemporary art more accessible, and to rid it of the stigma of pretentiousness. 'It's time to take art out of the strait-jacket of the gallery and into an interactive environment,' he says.

The Collective hopes to stage more parties at atmospheric venues such as Freud's, but the focus will continue to be the art. Jamie hopes Monopoly will become 'a by-word for a good night out'. Given the brilliant impression left by the night at Freud's, it looks as if his hopes are well on the way to being realised.

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copyright © 1998 Keble College, Oxford OX1 3PG