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They Did This

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For a long time, what they did was this: Bill would show up at Jim’s door without warning and he would rap his knuckles on the frame as though Jim couldn’t see him standing there. “Come with me,” he would say. “You must see this.”

“This” turned out to be, variously, a shouting match between two dons, the hole a cricket ball had punched in a second floor window at Balliol, the sheer number of bicycles parked outside Bodleian, a single bluebell on the bank, the way the Sheldonian looked in the afternoon light. Of the last two, Jim was surprised that, his artistic side notwithstanding, Bill possessed enough of a romantic streak to find these occurrences remarkable, but when he stopped to think about it he was forced to admit that there were any number of things about Bill Haydon of which he knew nothing. But that was all right, Jim decided. There was still time to learn.