Friday/Saturday July 26/27


This will go down very quickly because I've been running on adrenaline too long and once I stop Iíll crash.Flight from JFK was fine -- coach seats seem small, but who cares.Thunderstorms meant that we actually took off around 7:45 (an hour or more late) but I was already three quarters gone behind my eye mask and I wake up in good form for breakfast.Heathrow Terminal 3 hasn't changed any, but at least it wasn't too crowded.I even got through the bullpen at immigration in less than fifteen minutes.I took the tube into Gloucester Road and checked in at the Park International on Cromwell Road.Very pleasant, but naturally the room was not ready until 12:30 or so.†† To kill time I went to browse through Saint Katharine's Dock, crossed Tower Bridge, along to Hays Galleria, back across London Bridge, then tube back to a shower.I mean, first things first!! (Oh all right.I had another breakfast on Queen's Gate to get started.)Off to Regent's Park for an outdoor performance of The Boys from Syracuse.Directed by Judith Dench.Delightful.Very light touch.Sort of like the Delacorte, but they charge money so thereís no waiting in line.Back to the hotel for a bit of lazing and tea.Then a walk in the neighborhood -- down to the Boltons.Odd.No nostalgia.The area looks the same, but by the folks on the street, perhaps more middle-eastern, less nice.Gone from yuppie ex-pats to younger, multinational.Okay, I'm not politically correct.It just seems gamier.Probably not much different.Just a tinge.North of Old Brompton Road much the same: rangers and modest English (Indian!) hotels and flats.Dinner across Cromwell Road at an Indian spot.Now dumb TV (like MTV but don't tell) and to sleep.


This is not a mistake.I am happily ensconced in a suite at the top of staircase 13 in Braesnose College, Oxford.It is perfect.†† Up this morning for breakfast and then 9am mass at the Brompton Oratory.(Founded by converts who didn't find C of E high enough.) Ugh for the building -- baroque and ornate -- but normal folks for mass.It even turned out to be Mission Sunday.Sermon was by a nun whose six (Irish) siblings all entered religious life."My parents were model missionaries." (1 bet.)Then tube to Victoria and the Oxford bus.Cheap -- only 5 pounds -- for an hour and a half ride.†† Another lovely day too.Mid eighties, I'd guess, mostly sun, little patches of cloud.†† Cab to Braesnose, then right into it.Porter: "Bags right there love, 'ave you been here before?" Univac coordinator, Barbara Noel is from UMass and led me through two quads then up my staircase.Toilet and bath on the ground floor.My suite #4 two flights up.Stone courtyard opening straight into stone stairwell; castle-like oak door into a teen, wood paneled and floored entry with austere single room on the New Quad to the left and slightly larger and cheerier sitting room looking out on the High to the right.Washbasin and wardrobe built in for each room.Comfortable and the luxury of two rooms to myself is worth the surcharge.One room alone would be like the Y.


I spent the afternoon in Blackwell's (dangerous), followed by tea and scones at Baedakers (student type lunch and tea bar), then through the Christ Church Meadows to the Cherwell.Oh where is Peter Wimsey? Warm sun and haze -- it's supposed to be typical -- in the air.Even the golden stone, though it's hard to see through the bustle and noise.†† The evening started with a Champagne reception to meet the group.Almost purely female, mostly older (1'm the baby), mostly overachievers.Promise for sympathetic types.Barbara Noel seems a jolly, down to earth professor.Tim Tubbs, the teacher, is a refugee artiste, maybe my age, with dark shoulder-length curls topping a skinny frame.In his real life he's programming manager for Sadler's Wells.I expect to like him and his style.We'll see.†† We went on the Hall for dinner.Paned windows, dark paneling, trestle tables, overcooked, but pleasant food.Just like the Harvard Club.I took the chance to sit at the head table (we use a different dining room for the rest of the week).Dark portraits of grads and benefactors staring sternly down all around.I only recognized Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury, and William Golding.The other paintings just needed cleaning.(The paintings or my own brain.) I walked up to the University Parks to settle dinner.I'm going to like this week.Now to a good night's sleep.



July 29


Oh Fine. Breakfast (and the rest of our meals) in a fellows room.Smaller, just our group, and more utilitarian.Then two hours of "class." Tim has as his authority to teach the class, the background of having read Austen's books, a couple of major biographies, and an Oxford English major (honors).And he's fine.Much of what he said was familiar from my own superficial reading, but he pulled it together and delivered action (or idea) packed lecture.I'm not ready for deep; he does a superb survey-course lecture.Just what was ordered.†† I joined the "city tour" for a ploughman's lunch at the Turf Tavern, then a walking tour of the center city.I'd covered a lot of the same ground yesterday, but it was fun to go into more of the colleges and get a bit (just a little!) of commentary from Emma our student social director.†† ("Sod.")The group is pleasant; sprinkled with Wellesley grads/lady academic types.No whiners or real bad apples.95% female and 60+, but that's OK.Many are simpatico.If there's any quibble, it's that as a group, it's quite sedate.One hellraiser is all we might lack.†† The tour ended with tea and much cream in the depths of the University chapel just on Radcliffe Square.I then climbed the tower for the view , then prowled all over central Oxford picking up postcards, pens, and suntan lotion.Then a quiet crash -- I finished Anna Quindlen's Living Out Loud -- before dinner.I skipped the togetherness of the pub-crawl and opted to wash my hair in the ground floor bath, no shower.Then I just sat back and listened to Falsettoland.†† Today was another glorious hot, high-80s, sunny day.Thunderstorms were predicted for evening, but no sign yet.I hope it stays fine, of course.I've now done town" and I'll work the university parks and meadows and river next.And evensong at Christchurch; somehow I'll make that.



July 30


Great day.The weather was more typically English: gray and rainy off and on.Tim did two provocative, breathless sessions on Sense and Sensibility and p and P.Then, despite the weather, we went off on our afternoon expedition: first a picnic in the botanical gardens with blankets under the trees in a steady rain, then punting.Even in the rain we had fifteen hardy doers in three punts.Emma had bribed three guys to do the work so we rode languidly along under our umbrellas.I was with Nancy , Debbie, Carmen and Ethelmae and we just laughed the whole time.Champagne and strawberries completed our attempts to do the whole thing up right.The trip ended safely even though we pulled a Chinese fire drill maneuver of changing seats midway.There was still time left for a bit of shopping (souvenirs are done) and tea at the cathedral cafe.†† Afterwards I took the chance to hole up for an hour and read -- about Africa.We had a five- o'clock discussion session followed by dinner, but the day wasn't over yet.


Five of us -- Marion the nun, Gail, Judith, and June -- headed down to the Christchurch meadows for a nice after dinner stroll.The rain had pretty well ended.It was delightful so we poked along the river enjoying it all -- and came back to fine that the gates were closed and that we were most efficiently locked in.After trying a couple of gates, we met two American girls out jogging who assured us that the huis was clo.BUT they'd been told where to climb the fence.The approved spot is at the corner of Corpus Christi and Merton colleges.†† It was no easy climb, 1'11 tell you: straight ahead a four foot stone wall topped by another five feet of wrought iron fence and spikes; a right angles to the left, a stone wall about six feet high sloping up to where the two walls meet.It was a long scramble even for my legs and I appreciated the example and steadying of the joggers.On top you could avoid the spikes and...†† sit on the wall, stretching down to step on a bench, then safe ground.I made it fine, followed by Judith and Gail who each did it barefoot and in skirts.No way for the others so one of the joggers zipped off and got the Merton College porter to come down and unlock the gate on the lane.(Now he comes!) He was really sweet about it too, saying that it happened all the time and that he himself got locked in once with his wife.†† The climbers exited gracefully and gratefully through the no-visitors territory of Corpus Christi.


What a lark.I feel like Harriet Vane.



July 31


Field day.Early start (much laughter at breakfast over our wall climbing) then bus to Steventon, Winchester and later Chawton.Basically a day to survey.I wish I'd been alone.Steventon was grand; a little church in the twigs, guided by two gentle souls who should be sisters (both senses).Very green, very peaceful, bucolic.†† Winchester was more grand and less loaded.Though Jane A died here, the group, the bustle of a busy town and the restrictions -- someone lives today in the house Jane died in -- meant that there's no feeling at all.The cathedral is grand, the memorial fine, the experience flat.†† On to Chawton.Much better.Not moving in the psychic sense, but extraordinarily human.The house is on a busy corner -- like Ainsworth St.-- and is eminently comfortable.Nothing more, nothing less.I could move in tomorrow and maybe, just maybe, tolerate the tourists.


I was "grouped out" so I went alone to Evensong at Christchurch.Extraordinary.Very simple.†† The cathedral is grand, but not huge.The nave (or is it the choir?) is set up with lengthwise pews only.The choir is at the west end, then the public, with the clergy halfway along.It was almost scary to have the quality music so near and so loud.Raised goose bumps all over.The feeling is awe-some and full of magic although it's not identifiably religious.There's something big there.†† I sat at a dinner table where I had to be polite, so when the spunky group went on I had to go.†† We ended up at a wine bar in the High.Tim, his mother Ann, Emma, Debbie, Nancy and June.†† Very lively and fun.I ended up with Tim's mother hearing how her in-laws survived India to come home to WWII and evacuate to Canada; how the cat broke up the funeral; and how Tim at 19 brought a theater company of 40 home to Yorkshire for Christmas.Delightful!



August 1


I feel very sad that this week is past halfway and truthfully, is on the homestretch.Two lectures this morning, Mansfield Park and Emma, then out into another glorious sunny, hot day.Emma had organized a walk to the Trout Inn, about three miles out along the Isis (Thames).First mile was torture, a simple struggle though the traffic and chaos of town.Then thank goodness, we stepped over a magic line into country.Meadowland full of cows and horses and a well-worn trail along the river.†† Lunch was simple on a river terrace.Ploughman's and a pint.The others took a cab back, but it was so glorious that I decided to walk back.A perfect way to clear the brain, even if it was a glory day for hay fever.The only drawback was the hot sun and, naturally, the bustle of the last stretch back through town.Any side effects were treated by a cream tea at the convocation cafe.†† A not-as-successful seminar, dampened considerably by a bible-thumping dismissal that Jane Austen has no value beyond entertainment; only the bible speaks to the human condition, then dinner.At the end a quiet read before bed.(1 Dreamed of Africa.Kuki Gallmann.)



August 2


I've got some catching up to do here.We had a good session on Persuasion to wrap up the course complete with certificates of completion.Then, after tea, while the rest bussed off to Blenheim, I went out wandering.I first went down Algate to make sure that I got snaps of Folly Bridge for Mummy and Daddy , then through Christchurch meadows (in brilliant daylight) to take pictures of the infamous gate and wall.Then past Magdelen and on to the University parks.It was yet another glorious day so the parks had the look of Central Park, full of all sorts of folks out for fun.There was even a student party complete with cricket, champagne and boom boxes.†† I finished the afternoon with tea at the cathedral cafe (I'm getting to be a regular) which was just as well; the rest of the day was a bit strenuous.†† First there was a champagne party in the deer park between the two quads.Everyone really dressed up, but Tim took the sartorial prize: a black suit and white tie, but the jacket was short, double-breasted and the shirt collar was high about a narrow black tie.With his long curly hair, the effect was -- as planned -- quite theatrical.


We then moved inside for our gala dinner.Good food, I guess, well fueled by claret and toasts.Ruth did a clean speech using all the Austen titles, Debbie thanked the Univac folks, Tim (reluctantly) thanked all for the fun, and Emma drafted me to thank the dining room staff.†† OK.By this time we were well into the port.†† The party eventually adjourned to Debbie and Nancy's room and continued on gaily.We were all amazed to find that just about everyone came.I ended up on the floor with Jim, Emma and Tim, all of us sprawled around a corner.Jim was delightful; I pushed him to go to the Himalayas (he does regular business in Delhi) and generally wished for more time to talk.†† I even got a couple of nice compliments to add to the good cheer of the evening.W e were talking about Judith of the cable TV show and Emma and Tim both jumped in in unison, "but Katie, you couldn't possibly offend anyone; you're just not like that." (Don't worry, I did offend her.) Number two cam a bit later when Tim chided me for not contributing insights to the class, ''I see it's there for social comments, so why...?" More candles under the bushel basket.†† When we finally unwound, I was too far gone to settle into bed so I sat for a while in the New Quad.Emma came by and we had a long chat; she even brought me tea. Compliment #3 arrived."But I thought you were in your twenties!" But we were all pretty far gone.


Jim had the perfect summary in the morning.''I think I was over served."



August 3


Oh ugh.Paralyzing hangover.I got through all the never-quite-over layers of farewell saying, picked up the car and drove to Stratford.And so back to bed at 11:30 am.Dozed for several hours and then crawled out to town.A coke helped revive me and I began to enjoy the walk along the river, et al.Stratford is now a Disneyesque shopping mall, quite well done.I did the birthplace, but all pretty sterile.†† After changing, I nibbled a pleasant grownup meal at the Box Tree and then went in for 2 Hemy IV with Michael Maloney (Hal) and Robert Stephens (Falstaff).Excellent, tho' since I don't like Falstaff the character, I don't like the play as well as part 1.Overall very good: Falstaff was super, not a caricature, but a human; Hemy was fine except for the scene with dear old dad.†† It was staged with the old king back in a swoon, so Hal's explanation and conversion seemed pointless.Otherwise very straight and fine.(Pistol done as a motorcycle hood, but it seems to be the fashion.) Production lasted from 7:30 until 11:10.Exhaustion.



August 4


Good sleep, then I drove off to Kenilworth.Sort of disappointing.Nice ruins, absolutely no accessible background notes or anything.More sunshine.A crafts fair -- which I skipped -- on the grounds.†† To shake it off, I hopped onto the M! and blazed north to Bronte Land.The tourist folk in Hebden sent me to a delightful hotel, Collyers.Run by a gay couple.The kind of welcome where one of the guys came out to the parking lot to greet me and take the bag.A lovely lounge bar, personal tea service, and a high-class dinner.This is really a gem.I wish I had someone to recommend it to.


Brontes in the morning.



August 5


Left Collyers today almost reluctantly.They were as nice as could be.Headed off to Haworth which turned out to be spectacular. First bit along the canal deep in the valley , then steep winding through the stepped, sooty terrace houses of Hebden Bridge.All of a sudden you're up on the top of the world with nothing in sight but heathery and open fields, dark stonewalls and blowing clouds and rain.I'd doubted the wildness 'until then, but there it was.†† Haworth turns out to be another dark mill town on the side of the hills, spilled along very steeply.(I misread the signs and ended up driving down the cobblestone ladder of the main street.Eventually I got sorted out and found the parsonage.It's quite gloomy , right on the graveyard and close to the church.The trees around are very lush and overpowering.Exhibit inside the house was interesting, but the house itself is what speaks.†† I strolled along a path in a drizzle.Stone walls on all sides, but I was startled to find that as soon as you stepped out of the wooded graveyard you were in fields then moor.No wonder the Brontes wrote wild stuff; it is right there.(And no wonder Austen wrote cheerier stuff: Chawton in infinitely brighter and more tamed.)I had lunch then drove to Helmsley.No relation to Leona! Busy market day, but after tea, the info folks got me a B&B right in town.Very pleasant and convenient.Before settling in, I went out to Rivelaux Abbey.Spectacular ruins at the foot of a deep valley.Going down the bank (16%) grade) was exciting as was going up Sutton Bank earlier (25% grade) on the way into Helmsley.I was staggered by the height and extent of the ruins.This was no low-key outpost.†† Back to my B&B.Wrote and mailed postcards, then went to dinner just up the street.I'm now grappling with the "not enough time here" blues.



August 6


Had a nice breakfast chatting with a mother and daughter from North Wales at the B&B.All for 12 pounds.The U.S.is just too prissy to allow modest traveling at this level.Left in a gray rain and decided that a city would be the best use of the weather so I headed backwards to York.By the time I got there, it was sort of showers, so I didn't feel bad parking at a lot an apparent distance from the Minster.†† As it turned out, it was less than a ten-minute walk.The Minster is lovely.Clean, bright, Gothic glorious.Amazingly there's no sign of the 1984 fire damage.All restored.Simply staggering.The windows really are superb in a historical sense.The north transept is massive, tiny patters and dauntingly gray and green in "colour." The south transept looks like it is centuries later, bright , more obvious patterns, and the very modern seeming rose window.I had a small-scale miracle too.The sun broke through at one point and I grabbed the camera to shoot the rose window.Somehow I couldn't seem to quite focus and after moving around and wondering a bit, I realized that I'd knocked out my right lens.I was calm, but devastated: no spare lens, the car, bad glasses, ugh.I stepped off to the side and checked my clothes.Nothing.†† Heart sinks lower.Another pointless trip back by the pillar where I'd realized what happened.Nada.Then, blessed St.†† Anthony, a glint of light and a perfect upturned pale blue lens waiting serenely on the floor.Thank God.I slipped off to the Lady chapel to offer brief, but heartfelt thanks.†† On to the Chapter house where a saw a place marker sounding suspiciously like the father of Tim-from-Oxford.Smallish world.


On through improving weather to Castle Howard.Roughly the impact of Versailles.I've never seen such grounds and such an approach. A two-lane road bordered by green grass and trees rolling over blind summits.Suddenly the house looms across the lake.Wow.†† The house is baroque by my standards.For me the most impressive point is that the bulk of the house has been rebuilt since a 1940 fire.†† Apparently, Brideshead paid for the south hall restoration and continues to bring in lucrative visitors.†† Tea, then on to Scarborough where after a long wait at information, I landed at a small hotel just north of town.Twin room, ensuite facilities, very pleasant.There's no American equivalent for these dusty , musty , tiny room, perfectly fine hotels.Pity.†† Reread Gaudy Night.I tell myself it's for the Oxford references.Who'd ever class Dorothy Sayers as a romance writer?



August 7


Nature day.Also cool, but lovely sun.After breakfast I drove out to Thornton-le-Dale and then into the Dalby Forest.It's a nature preserve -- sort of like Quabbin without the reservoir.I took a short stroll -- maybe a mile -- along a dirt road, up a ridge and then through wonderful lush woods.It's the sort place where the posted 30 mph limit on the auto road seems too fast.When I came out again, I headed for Whitby on a road that goes straight across the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.It climbs up to a sort of plateau, all heathery, no tress except in the sudden clefts of the dales.I stopped at a roadside snack bar and lunched on a hot dog with sitting on the edge of a huge, green, grassy, natural bowl.Glorious.I sat for a long time reading because I really didn't want to move on.†† Whitby has a nice abbey and lovely cliff views, but no American would recognize it for a beach resort.There's no beach.†† I left and drove along to Robin Hood's Bay, a former smugglers' bay.The town spills down an impressively steep and narrow road.All very picturesque and olde shoppe'd to a fare-thee- well.I rather liked it despite the hokeyness.It seemed also like a great spot for tea.†† The last scenic stop I made was Ravenscar, no town really, just long views of cliff and water.†† Then back to Scarborough.Another odd resort with a Brighton-domed spa, a dirty beach and lots of honky tonk.A classic.



August 8


Started out this morning after breakfast and drove south along the coast with the idea of sticking to the back roads.Nice idea down to Hull, lots of open farmland with ocean views in the distance.Once I swung in to go west though, it was just crowded highway driving and I dept getting lost or overshooting my chosen routes.Ugh.I ended up feeling very frazzled and when I stopped in Sheffield for gas, I managed to clip the curb (kerb) on my way out and get a flat tire.†† Thank God it was right there at the gas station.They didn't do service, but they sent me to a garage adjoining and the fellow there came up, changed the tire in no time and all, and wouldn't take any money.Bless him.


I set out again -- sedately -- and immediately crossed the magic line into the Peak District National Park which is simple glorious.High, high open moorlands and mountains.No trees so you can see to the edge of the ground all around.I went through, up over, along or whatever the Snake Pass into Glossup.The tourist office fixed me up with a B&B that is out of this world.Stone house, edge of the mountain, looking down on a panoramic view of Glossup and the surrounding hills.I ended up with another guest in the backyard soaking up the blazing sun, listening to the sheep, and gazing at the view.I suppose eventually 1'11 have to go inside or into town for dinner, but right now this seems like paradise.†† I did head down the hill eventually for a pleasant, thoroughly mediocre Italian dinner.When I got back to Moorfield Barn one of the neighbors was chatting on the terrace, a farmer named Harold.He was a big man, about 50, horrible teeth, and cap and all necessary bits of uniform.†† His accent was practically impenetrable.Various ides were batted around for places for me to visit tomorrow.Harold strongly recommended Chatsworth; he'd been there when he was eight and had been no further since.A real character.But he turned to me and said placidly, "every day here is a holiday for me." Stopped me in my tracks, because I think he spoke truth.



August 9


Woke up to a different world, raining and gray.Had a nice chat over breakfast with Dorothy, our hostess, and an English couple from Peterborough.As we got up from the table -- around ten -- we noticed some grouse poking around the yard.Dorothy said they were all over the moors, and when things get out of balance, the gamekeeper next door (yes!) clears them out or mixes in some new breeds.Dorothy then said that "the gents" come on Fridays in the fall for, you know, the shooting.In spite of the car, the colour TV and the CD player, I had the feeling that I'd slipped into a time warp.†† I left reluctantly and drove off, at first through the open moorland again.Went, still in rain, through Winnats Pass, down a time, steep windy road in between rugged green hillsides.†† Grand.Eventually I meandered on to Bakewell -- quaint and got the tourist office to book me ahead into Stratford.On the way along I stopped at Chatsworth to see the grounds and eat lunch.Wonderfully grand.I skipped the inside of the house; just not in the mood.I managed -- quite successfully -- to go along back roads and got to Stratford in good order.†† I check into the hotel, the A von View, just a bit further out Shipton Road than the other place I'd been at, and then zipped on over to the theatre.Yes, a stalls seat for 1 Henry IV was available.Tea at Richoux, a shower and an Italian dinner (much better than last night) got me ready.†† As usual, I liked Part 1 better.Hal still rushed and ranted just a bit, but overall very good.†† Falstaff grandly human again.Hotspur dandy.No distracting stutter or lisp; just a thick quality to the voice.Maybe it's natural.He was fiery and NO ONE LAUGHED when he died.†† There's a lesson for the Hotspur of this winter's NYSF production.Back in the dark along the footpath.Spooky, but fine.A cup of tea and bedtime.



August 10


Last day and feeling off and on blue.I got up and toddled off to the theatre in time to get standing room for tonight, then sat happily in the sun doing the Sunday Times (NY) puzzle successfully.

I eventually picked up the car and headed off on a Cotswolds tour.I wasn't prepared for the fact that on weekends the roads are taken over by motorcyclists.I should have taken the hint from the "No Bikers" signs all over Stratford, but the reality on the road is overwhelming.Allunsavory, black leather and beer types by the hundreds.Many well behaved on the road, but enough cowboys to be nerve-racking.I drove through the swarms and past a picnic that gathered many in, to Broadway.Penance? The town was crowded, not jammed, and in sunshine and warmth it's full of art galleries and upscale crafty shops.The Lyggon Arms looks thriving, but I didn't go in.Enough is enough.†† I headed home, did some errands, showered and went for a pleasant dinner at Richoux.†† The evening's performance was fun.Two Gentlemen of Verona complete with Gershwin and Cole Porter interludes.It zipped right along happily.I was "standing" .†† m the second gallery of the Swan which is a small-scale Globe-light theater.Really beautiful.My sightlines were limited -- top of the head views -- but they provide seats (!) for standing room so you alternate seeing heads while leaning on the rail with just listening while sitting in comfort.A good deal.†† Oh, I almost forgot, in my morning stroll I got over to Holy Trinity to pay my respects at olde Will's grave.Ahead of the mob, so peaceful.What a god given gift we all still share in.



August 11


Up at 6:40 am but feeling quite bright.Had a cup of hot chocolate, zipped up the bags, and crept out of the hotel.I felt a little as though I was sneaking away.there were no lights on in the hall or lobby, nor anyone around.Don't worry, I checked out last night.†† I was on the road by 7:15 with overcast weather and next to no one around.I pushed right along because I didn't really know how long it might take me to get to Heathrow.As it turned out, it was a breeze.I zipped through deserted Woodstock et all, avoided Oxford (reluctantly) on the ring road, hit the M40 and pulled into Hertz at Heathrow about 8:45.Hated to.†† Terminal 3 is still chaotic, but I used the AAdvantage card and sailed up to a first class desk to check in.They gave everyone a thorough security grilling about bags, electronics, where 'ave you been, what about this car, etc., etc., (While being screened we finally get to "Where are your other bags? Two weeks with just these? When my wife travels ...And I know I brought more than I needed!) Once cleared I had the nice surprise of finding I'd been upgraded to business class.Spontaneous elevation.Then off to the relative peace of the Admirals Club and breakfast at last before getting on the plane.

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