Wednesday, November 29, 2006

England Hockey Journal: Moose and Bison, Part I

Hockey and donuts: Both are scarce in England, from whence my wife and I returned last night. Moose and bison are difficult to find there, too. But, seek and ye shall find.

Last Saturday, our party of four—the AMHL photographer, her friend (an event planner extraordinaire) who lives in London with her boyfriend, the boyfriend (an Oxford grad and organic chemist), and I—had completed the first half of our tour of Oxford University. We were gathered at the Kings Arms (KA), a local instituion full of lore I’m sure. The old pub is the official sponsor of the Oxford Blues hockey club and where Mike “Moose” Talbot, via e-mail earlier that week, had suggested we meet.

A bespectacled man of average build, probably in his mid-thirties, ambled into the clearing between the main bar and several loosely connected drinking chambers.

“Jim?”

“Moose?”

We shook hands and then sat down with the others, already seated in an area near the front of the KA.

So why the nickname, my wife asked the fellow who didn’t appear to play the part of heavy-hitting hockey player.

“Every team needs one.”

Every team needs a writer, too; Moose is your man. He’s documenting Oxford's hockey history much like yours truly is doing for the good ol’ AMHL. Moose is also a low-scoring, stay-at-home defenseman and fine Canadian, so what’s not to like about him?

After swapping stories from the hockey and writing trenches, we set out for a place to eat lunch, which turned out to be the Rose. After I devoured a tasty club sandwich (minus the mayo, tomato, and cucumber), the Oxford graduates continued with the tour, regaling us with tales about college pranks and providing insight about the side of Oxford the university’s marketing department doesn’t put in their brochures, like the time…well, better not get into that.

We left Moose mid-afternoon, strolled with the sun still shining to the parking lot between the Opium Den and Rosie O’Grady’s, and then hopped in the friendly dark blue Felicia (similar to a VW Rabbit) …in search of Bison.
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