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Sunday, 17 April 2016

Dreaming Spires and Morse

Asmolean guides being instructed
I went to Oxford this weekend: an educational visit - is there any  other to Matthew Arnold's town of dreaming spires? Hugely inspiring in a episodic way!

The thing is I love Morse...and Lewis. Frankly to my mind they are the best thing about this nondescript town on the Thames. Strip away the colleges of learning and ...privilege and you have a bog standard middle sized town with a few shops and loads of cafes. It's a middle class shabby town. By that I mean if you have the money you'll happily pay over three quarters of a million for a two up two down that would have housed a family of nine a hundred and fifty years ago. Except now it's been knocked through with light wells.

Oxford's fire service on duty
O.K.enough of social history. My weekend allowed me 3 hours away from rigorous intellectual tumult. After my ham and cheese baguette I was free to explore all that Oxford had to offer. Plugging in "Morse" into Google Maps I found myself directed to at least 20 pubs in the area.  I
took the safe option and headed for the Randolph which is almost opposite the Ashmolean Museum.

OK, who has nicked my ice cornetto
If you go to Oxford you must visit the Ashmolean. Which is the problem. I went there on Saturday afternoon. It was packed with  mums and dads with buggies and kids strapped to  their chests and zillions of loud foreign students who walked around looking at their fucking iPhones.

I paid my respects to the Hittites, some tribe in Syria and the Greeks and left to sample the retail experience of Oxford.

What Oxford City Council don't realise is that they don't have a retail centre. They have a disaster area. It is bleak, boring and totally naff. No wonder it's gown and town. Yet thousands of suckers spend hours driving into Oxford and trying to park to shop in...Primark, Carphone Warehouse and Debenhams.
This is how Oxford's junior doctors protest

Debenhams exemplifies what is wrong with UK High Streets. It's a shell into which loads of disparate franchises scrap for that last dollar. It is un-coordinated, tacky and worst of all, boring. Frankly it's the arse end of retail. The sooner D's is killed off,along with BhS, the better we all will be.

I left Oxford's High Street totally deflated. The side streets were no better. Desperate chic, unique offerings trying to convince passing trade that they were worth stopping by and being robbed. A boutique tailor in a fairly grotty sixties side street expected (no demanded) that I spend £1,500 on a suit. I think not.

Hundreds of cafes offering an infinite perm of coffee - hell is a Costa/Starbucks/ that little place that roasts beans the poor civet shat out.

The Spice Girls reform in Oxford

Something was happening while I was in Oxford. There were loads of Morris Dancers. I have no objection to men dressing up in silly costumes. I draw the line at men ( and women) having cow bells strapped to their legs. It is totally unnatural and possibly banned by the Oxford Conservative Party.

They did, however, add some welcomed colour to what would otherwise have been an extremely depressing 3 hrs until the next lecture on the Wonders of Mercury -  fascinating.

I display, without comment, as sample of Oxford life as displayed by the Morris Dancing community.

I'm sorry Endeavour...

1 comment:

John Gray said...