Saturday, 3 November 2012

Fictional Entry

In 1971 Helvetius Kronk moved to Oxford to complete his studies of the flute music of Esrum-Hellerup. In his moving memoir, 'Leaves in a Darkened Room,' he described his two years there as the happiest in his life. He had found lodging at number 23 Fictional Entry, a small street that once formed the entry to Peake College from the High Street. 'The architectural exuberance of the street, so vividly portrayed in Gospodin's paintings, nourished my soul and delighted my senses. The daily task of finding my front door among the shifting geometries and impossible perspectives seldom tried my patience, so beautiful was the puzzle set before me by those ancient hands.'

Fictional Entry was built in the Middle Ages by a team of craftsmen selected from across the known world and briefed with the task of building a street of such complexity that it would be impossible to replicate. With the increase of tourism and the lack of reliable maps and signs, unscrupulous operators had succeeded in diverting visitors to Oxford into convincing life-size models of the city built on the approach roads from every direction. The impossibility of recreating Fictional Entry allowed pilgrims and visitors to verify their arrival in the true Oxford and ensured that the important income from tourism would not be diverted into the hands of charlatans.

Fictional Entry at Night, G. Stotinki
It is hard to imagine the widespread horror that accompanied the destruction of Fictional Entry in 1973 when a young American student called Lilian Mountweazel caused a vast explosion in the neighbouring room to Kronk. He managed to avoid the explosion only through the wilful avoidance of his official responsibility as Captain of the Apopudobalia Team- had he not feigned illness and hidden in a public house several miles away from his lodgings, his return from the playing fields might have brought him home seconds before the blast.