The sundry hazards of a weekend away in Oxford

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For a reason which fails me now, a few weeks ago I had agreed to get on a coach at 8:45am, travel for three and a half hours to Oxford (yes, I typed out the whole thing without an astrix) and engage in a ‘sports day’ against what turns out to be the most athletic and generally prestigious college in the Oxford.

This was the creme de la creme, the Dec of Ant and Dec, the knees of the bees. We had to cross a deer park, four different courts and the Bridge to Terebithia to get to their sports fields - which, by the way, they have all to themselves. Considering that my Cambridge college has barely enough people to play tennis doubles, I wasn’t looking forward to a goal-fuelled and victory-filled day. On top of this, I had signed up to a ‘crew date’; a hybrid swap.

I did all this so you don’t have to. And I gained some wisdom about The Other Place along the way so you may come away from this wiser and slightly more behind on an essay.  Here are some of the things I observed.

Oxford is just a bigger, better city.  This is triggering for many of you, but I stand my ground. It has a Five Guys in the city centre and there is ample space for two buses to pass by one another without a 20 minute standstill, and there are less tourists than residents. There are certainly more than two streets to walk down (in Cambridge it’s either Sidney Street or Kings Parade for me), and their iconic building looks like a really beautiful nipple. Surely that is better than our Lord-Faquaad’s-palace lookalike.  Although I only experienced one, I know there are more than 5 clubs and the club I did go to didn’t play High School Musical or the Lion King once.

But here is the crux. Having injured myself playing football I was forced throughout my 18 hours in that city to take 3 cabs at extortionate prices simply to circumnavigate the city centre.  It wasn’t as though I was venturing to the equivalents of Fitzwilliam or Homerton, I was travelling between colleges that claimed to be ‘central’. Living in a bigger city comes at a price, specifically a £21.50 price.

‘Sister’ colleging means nothing.  Whoever built our sister college in Oxford must have been compensating for something. On our 40 days and 40 nights that it took us to walk to their sports pitches from the Plodge, students of this college humbly queried ‘oh so you don’t have your own deer park?’. Thank you Sasha for asking but no, we have Samuel Pepys and that is about it. And if I’m honest I thought it was pronounced pep-ays until about 3 weeks ago. So I can see no visible or invisible reason why these two colleges would be called sisters, or even distant relatives.

Crew dates are terrible.  Other than the fact that a ‘crew date’ is what I used to call my meet-ups in year six, I saw no particular cause for concern on the horizon.  In the space of 38 minutes, a girl got completely naked, 12 people drunk from their (smelly) shoes, 1 person vomited on the floor, people threw chicken korma at their friends and I panic-ate 45 naan slices. You might be thinking at this point ‘wow, this sounds awesome, what a fun night out’, and maybe I was being too vanilla, but, as I said, we hadn’t even hit the hour mark before all these atrocoties took place. At least give me a chance to get drunk enough to find all these things funny. It took me 20 minutes alone to get my head around what they meant by ‘sconce’. (I learnt that a sconce is a ‘fine’ and they are given like this: ‘I sconce anyone who has eaten someone elses s**t’ (I quote). The guilty person then has to stand up and drink. It’s all very civilised). The only saviour to this experience was the food, which was surprisingly edible. I’d give the crew date a 3/10.

Oxford clubbing is a whole different game.  The club we attended, called Atik, was half a conference room type thing with wooden floors and leather sofas, and half a bass pounding, tunes pumping machine. Absolutely everything played was a remix of an old school banger: mainstream enough that everyone would know it but remixed enough so that it was still cool. Safe to say I was out of my depth, there were times when the strobe lights gave me a headache and I had to retire to the comfort of a leather sofa, which was, in true retro fashion, falling apart. These memories are hazy at best. Nonetheless, I achieved something I have never managed to do in Cambridge clubbing: bag myself an invaluable clubbing pic.

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