Weekly Shocks' Blog

Dear Oxford,

Hiya, buddy. Oxford, old pal! It’s been a while since we chatted formally. I’m sorry: it’s probably my fault. I’ve had this rubbish called “work” to do, and you’ve probably been distracted with your own stuff too, like all those millennium-old traditions to uphold and then there was that snow thing last week you weren’t really prepared for. We all get busy. It happens.

So, how are you? You’re looking well. The collection of gargoyles across your various colleges is especially attractive and interesting. Not really frightening, but I guess they might have been when they were first chiseled out of stone all those centuries ago. Who knows. Anyway. As I said, you’re looking well. I especially like this whole City-in-Winter deal you’ve got going right now: there are fewer swarms of camera-clutching, eardrum-shattering tourists, and that’s always a bonus. You should perhaps consider extending that look into the spring and summer seasons, maybe. Just a suggestion.

Oxford, I’ve been meaning to talk to you seriously for some time now. Please, sit down: this is an important conversation, and I want your full attention. It’s about all the crazies you’ve got in your city. I’m not talking about the eccentric folk, like that guy who dresses as (and may very well be) an African chief and wanders the city barefoot all winter with a very impressive staff to help beat back the dirty masses. My beef’s not with him: that guy’s cool. Eccentricity is cool and completely expected, too. I mean: you’re Oxford! I can’t even sit down to dinner with you without putting on a Harry Potter robe and bowing my head over a Latin grace each evening! And I love that, don’t get me wrong. Hell, at my last place of academic study, I’d often go to dinner in pajamas and bow my head to avoid seeing the five inches of hairy buttcrack on display from the hungover guy in the Patriot’s jersey and upsettingly stained and ill-fitting jeans sitting in front of me. Trust me, Oxford, I love your oddness. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.

But I’m sincerely worried about your crazies, your in-your-face, aggressive, scary crazies who seem to populate your city by the thousands. People like the raggedy-haired adolescent I passed by today and made the colossal mistake of making eye-contact with. That was apparently the exact wrong thing to do because he responded by screaming in my face, “F*CK OFF, YEAH?! F*CK RIGHT OFF!” Then there was that Big Issue-selling guy a couple of years ago who, after I refused to buy a magazine from him, asked instead if I’d touch his bum. Repeatedly. And of course, there’s this lovely specimen who makes me question the very existence of God:

Why, God? Why?

Why, God? Why?

Seriously, Oxford, it’s just worrying. It’s as if there’s a lunatic asylum very nearby with extraordinarily lax security standards. Are you aware of that? It’s damaging your Wodehousian reputation of serenity and untouched splendor in an otherwise chaotic world. Also, these crazy people invariably smell like putrid rat carcasses dipped in Marmite. Honestly, Oxford, I’m saying this as a friend: get rid of the scary, crazy people. They’re doing you a grave disservice, and I know for a fact they’re using your fetching red phone booths as public toilets, something I don’t think your tourist hordes much appreciate when they’re posing in them for their obligatory “I’ve-been-to-England-and-aren’t-I-so-original-and-clever?!” photos.

Oh, Oxford, one more thing before I go, ‘kay? When I came here three years ago, I had a bland, yet perfectly serviceable North American accent that suited me rather well, I believe, and I liked it very much. At some point you “borrowed” that accent and replaced it with some sort of pseudo-posh, fakey Madonna-like hybrid voice, probably as a joke, probably assuming I wouldn’t notice. Well, it’s a brilliant joke, but I have noticed, and although your new, replacement accent gives hours of amusement to my friends and family, it’s also starting to cause me severe, existential angst and deep, personal humiliation. So, if you’re not using it, could I possibly have my old accent back? Please? If you’re not busy or anything. I’d be awfully grateful. Thanks in advance.

Good chat, Oxford, lovely as always to see you! Best of luck with the upcoming exams period and the trashing chaos that will follow and all. Speak soon!



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