Laetitia took her group to Lechlade, on the Thames, west of Oxford. The river is narrower here, and though still navigable, is traversed by craft smaller than Growltiger’s barge from T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
After some walks along the Thames, Laetitia took her group to Kelmscott Manor, the country home of William Morris. Morris was a nineteenth-century Renaissance man: a poet, artist, translator, illustrator, and entrepreneur, who with Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti was active in the English Pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts movements. The company that Morris founded produced images for embroidery, tapestry, printed and woven textiles, wallpaper, and stained glass. He and his partners profoundly affected the decoration of homes, churches, and public buildings during the early twentieth century.
Laetitia did not lead a tour of the house herself, since each room had a docent. One docent had an interesting story about the inspiration for the famous image called Strawberry Thief, which depicts birds and strawberries. Morris apparently got the idea for the design when he watched thrushes stealing strawberries from his garden as he waited to use the outhouse, which according to the docent was a three-holer. Laetitia though about how quirky the inspiration process was—how a beautiful image emerged from a trip to a place most people think rude.
She was still thinking about that when she dropped into a pub late that afternoon to write a limerick. Art appreciation is also quirky, she thought. Some people love non-objective art of Rothko or the music of Phillip Glass, while others hate it. It was the same with limericks, though she hesitated to call them art. Some of those she thought best caused listeners to groan. Certainly one had to be careful when gratuitously inflicting them on others. With that thought, she wrote the limerick of the day.
Rob thought that no verse could be droller
Than the one he wrote on the three-holer
So he gave it a try
But he got a black eye
From the young mother pushing a stroller.