I go on a day trip.

Oxford!!!

Famous for being in the Inspector Morse shows, Oxford is actually quite nice in its own right and has several impressive park and ride schemes. The LTLP is giving an Important Talk there, and I decide to cadge along for the ride.

“Have you been to Oxford before?” asks the pleasant Oxfordian lady brightly, by way of introduction.

I pause. I do not particularly want to mention the debacle that followed the Oxford Union invitation and have already had several nightmares about people pointing me out in the street, waving their papers and crying ‘shame!’. I had previously assumed that nobody in Britain had waved their papers and cried ‘shame’ since about 1758, and thus my experience with the Oxford Union has always made me a bit wary of the city’s inhabitants.

“Not recently,” I evade.

In the event it is true that everybody in Oxford looks a bit peculiar. They look a bit peculiar because they are either a) from overseas and standing in the street and looking up; b) extremely clever, and let’s face it extremely clever people always look a bit peculiar; or c) extremely clever people who are also from overseas and standing in the street and looking up. My eyes scour the pavements of Catte Street, looking for signs of normality.

The city seems very pleasant in terms of architecture, as would any place you have to pass through Northampton to get to. I buy a nice pork and leek pie from a butcher in the covered market, and use the toilet twice in Debenhams. As I relax on the comfortable white seat, with the toilet paper positioned at the correct height on the wall beside me, I reflect that travel writing might just be my thing.

38 Comments

  1. What, no chickens?

    Oh, and First!

  2. You forgot the other category of peculiar in Oxford. ‘Married to their sister and proud owner of a vestigial tail’.
    Sorry. That was gratuitous, but my three years in that hell hole qualify me to make such a sweeping statement.

  3. Note to self: Stear clear of the pork and leek pie the next time I visit Oxford!

  4. Blimey – I didn’t know about the marrying their sister bit. I am twice as relieved to be back in Norfolk, in that case.

  5. I am moving to Oxford(shire) in less than 3 weeks! Just thought I’d lob that one in. Anyway…

    Have you been to Oxford before?” asks the pleasant Oxfordian lady brightly, by way of introduction.

    Is there a pleasant Oxfordian lady who greets all visitors to the City then? And is it luck of the draw as to whether one gets the pleasant Oxfordian lady or the unpleasant Oxfordian lady? Or can one book the pleasant Oxfordian lady in advance?

    ITWSBT!

  6. “with the toilet paper positioned at the correct height”

    Ever seen “Sleeping with the enemy,” JonnyB?
    How are your cupboards organised?

  7. I’d like to go to Oxford. The most exciting prospect I’ve got lined up so far is Birmingham…

  8. “let’s face it extremely clever people always look a bit peculiar”

    Good to know your visit will pass unremarked, then, except amongst the long-suffering toilet cleaners of Debenhams. Obviously pork and leak pies disagree with you, Jonny.

    Seems a shame to go all the way to Inspector Morse’s old stamping grounds and not get murdered. Certainly we’re all disappointed out here in the blogosphere, I can tell you. I can see it now…

    Lewisssss!!!

    Over ‘ere, sir. Victim was a blogger by the looks of things. Beaten to death with ‘is own keyboard.

    Got what he deserved, then, didn’t he? Kick the corpse in the river and we’ll go grab a pint.

    FX: Stravinsky – Le sacre du printemps – FADE TO BLACK…

  9. I lived in Oxford for five years. It is indeed full of odd looking people all looking up. I used to live in North Oxford and work in Cowley, famous for joy riding and the delightful Blackbird Leys estate. I used to have to take two buses, both of which were usually crammed with foreigners with cricked necks and the wrong change for the fare. It would take about two weeks and some cunning time travel to get to work. It’s part of the reason why I moved.

  10. Well the LTLP thinks you’re F****** Odd but now we know you must just be just very clever or are you a foreigner?

  11. Don’t knock Oxford…..I live in Northampton.

  12. I hope you didn’t drive into Oxford. If you did then the council probably now regard you as the anti-christ.
    However through the numerous park and ride schemes they collect all the cars together on the outskirts all day so the thieves can do their own ‘one stop shopping’ without the inconvenience of catching a bus that stops every 20 feet.

  13. I was surfing about and found this and immediately thought of you. You can be a travel writer and still pet your chickens!!

    http://dvice.com/archives/2008/09/pet_your_chicke.php

  14. Jonny it makes me strangely uneasy at the thought of you mixing with very clever people. I thought you were one of us.
    But anyway did you find somewhere to park?

  15. Well, dang, I was just in Oxford. I had no idea that the odd person I saw there was you. Had I known, I would have introduced myself.

  16. Does a larger than average head not count as peculiar looking? All the easier to tug one’s forelock at Oxford’s passing gentry and future Government ministers, what what.

  17. How can you sit on the loo eating a pork and leek pie?

  18. Do you know the best thing about those five park and rides? It’s when the tourists stop looking up for long enough to ask you, “Which bus stop for the park and ride?” and you say “Which one?” And their little faces fall as they say “There are two..?”

  19. As a person who has travelled quite a lot I really do think you should become a travel writer. Many a guide I have read which proclaims to be rough, ready or even concise has failed to mention the best places to go for a heavily needed dump after two days of poo free travelling.

  20. I spent a year in Oxford and hated every, single day of it. I didn’t even know they had a Debenhams – that may have been too common in my day and age.

  21. Pingback: Pandammonium: blogs [pandammonia]

  22. The reason all the tourists in Oxford look up is that the bottom few feet of every building are obscured by bicycles, aggressive beggars/punks/drunks or someone having the demonstration du jour. Seeing a poster of a cat with an electrode in its eye puts me right off my skinny latte!!

  23. Jonny, i’m from Oxford been here all my life there is another catagory of normal folk you know!

    Lou

  24. Hmmm… from the comments of several people around me (not at the MOMENT mind, just in general) I always thought the streets of Oxford were filled with hordes of eager Lord of the Rings fans (easy to spot – the ones with One Rings slung round their necks) urgently looking for the Eagle and Child pub so they can plonk their bottoms down on the very seats that once cradled the cheeks of Lewis and Tolkien themselves. Your version sound much, much safer.

  25. Louise – we should start a support group. I did think of it whilst I was there. On Facebook.

  26. It just so happens that my sister has a student house in Oxford. The council are rather well organised in fact. They surveyed the cities student housing and decided they wanted to make sure it was all safe. They wrote to my sister saying they noticed her house didn’t have locks on windows or a burglar alarm, saying they thought it would be good if she added these things at a cost of £650. And, very kindly offered to carry out the work if she stumped up £150! They were happy to pay the rest!! Not bad if you ask me! Scribble

  27. Having recently driven through (as much as I could) a tiny bit of Oxford, I would hesitate from doing so again and would probably detour around it (by way of Gloucester, Hereford, Manchester and Aberdeen). I have, however, had the pleasure of driving THROUGH Bury St Edmonds, Diss, Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Caister in the last few days helping my good lady on her geneological search for her ancestry. Having never visited the lovely county of Norfolk before I was full of admiration of the friendly, chatty and helpful people we met. I can see why you keep returning to it.

  28. At least an Oxford lad has the decency to make an honest woman of his sister. I’m reliably informed that his Norfolk counterparts merely pro-create with theirs, out-of wedlock. Penny – NORTHAMPTON

    (And should your travel writing career bring you to Northampton, I’ll be the woman shaking her pile of Big Issues at you and shouting “Shame”!).

  29. Talk about shame! Wish I had not directed my daughter’s attention to your ramblings. I do not think she should try to intimidate my favourite blogger! Penny may live in Northampton but I live in Norfolk. Still, you will not recognise me if we should meet on the streets of Norwith one day. Luckily for you, Penny will not recognise you should you travel to Northampton. Then of course there is my sister, who lives in Oxford…

  30. Now that my Mum has put both our reputations in jeopardy, I wish to clarify that she was not ‘born & bred’ in Norfolk and no, she doesn’t have a brother…

  31. Penny, please phone your mum and check she’s OK. It’s her turn and she hasn’t blogged. I’m worried.

    P.S. It’s probably not wise to go into the questions of your origins on JonnyB’s blog. Soon people may ask you to confirm you weren’t born & bred in Cornwall, rural Gwynned, halfway up Scafell Pike, ect ect.

  32. Golly – I am sorry to cause offence but I did not think people from Northampton had the Internet, so I will be more careful in future. I hope this resolves any difficulties.

  33. Only ‘two’ Pork and Leek pies?

    You’re not telling fibs again?

    Are you sure that was what you were doing in the toilet? Only, I’m slightly worried about you, what with the paper being at the right height on the wall and everything.

  34. Yes indeed, McDonalds (where we Northamptonians go when it’s too wet to sell our Big Issues) provides a free wireless broadband connection.

    Thanks for the apology Jonny, it means a lot to me. I admit that your comment was not entirely unfounded – however, you must have noticed as you drove through that what Northampton lacks architecturally, it more than makes-up for in traffic lights and speed cameras.

    Rufus, don’t worry, Mum’s fine. You ought to ring her yourself next time though Dad. It’s been years since that Scafell Pike incident, I’m sure she’s over it now.

  35. Whoops….excuse me please.

    NAGA has been just a bit hormotional of late. Luckily, someone held up a mirror for some while too! NAGA noticed the secrete inside, and out and most likely was/is deserving of all that drops from on high.

    NAGA hopes she is permitted to still visit this private secret diary as it is where I come on rainy days like what today is.

  36. This has been one very LONG day trip, yah?

  37. I wonder if I could get myself a one way ticket online? I’ll have a bit of a search around for someone skilled in the art of making suicide painless, NOT, as the yellow pages don’t appear to have anything that would come even close to doing the trick.

  38. in support of Oxford you mean Jonny! (as you already have a support group on facebook!)

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