Getting it wrong. Twice.

By skepticlawyer

I’m not giving big ups to The Oxford Story, one of this town’s cheezier attractions (or erstwhile attractions, it’s gone tits up, as the website reveals). That said, this piece of deep-as-a-pat-of-butter travel journalism makes The Oxford Story look positively stellar.

The terribly instructive video presentation enlightens us as to what the Oxford student lifestyle is like. Through soft-focus cinematography, we’re presented with a series of scenes that tell it like it is. A girl daydreams into the distance, while carefully composing a letter to mama with her cherished fountain pen; the rowing team readies itself for action; a couple of clean-cut young chaps have a sociable game of croquet out on the lawns.

This is, of course, accompanied by howls of laughter from the genuine students in the room. The dumb tourists are being fed tosh because, frankly, that’s what they came for. That it bears no resemblance to reality is not really the point.

The introductory video is the first part of The Oxford Story, a recently defunct attraction of 20 years’ standing that was so irredeemably awful it became quite funny.

Before the main event, we’re led through a mock-up of a student’s room. Apparently the poor chap is having an “essay crisis”, which should be immediately obvious as his hand is on his head. It’s also the least student-like room ever seen; it’s scrupulously clean, has posters of The Lord Of The Rings everywhere and a wooden tennis racket popped in the corner.

It’s fairly obvious this is nothing like the life that most of the populace experiences and quite frankly it’s difficult to spot the differences between the students in Oxford and any others. In fact, if you thought they were all sat at home on a Friday night, feverishly working away and getting an early night for rowing practice tomorrow morning, you would be very wrong indeed.

pub.jpgSure, The Oxford Story version is tosh, but so is David Whitley’s. Thing is, you can find both versions in Oxford – and half a dozen others, too. There’s plenty of Brideshead around the traps, and people on pushies wearing academic gowns (now that stands out). And rugger. And rowing. And croquet. Both nerds and non-nerds. Also nerds’ revenge (some of which is funny).

Memo to David: every pub in Oxford bar about two is ‘down a back alley’. Oxford parties are called ‘bops’ (which makes me wonder if you went to one). All the pubs also have low ceilings, too… which is why I want to know why it’s necessary to photoshop the Turf so the ceiling’s nearly legal height. Either that, or the SMH employed a team of midgets as photographic extras.

By the way – from your own paper – here’s a good example of travel writing about a much-visited city.

(Okay, I’m grumpy just now. A few quick wickets this morning will put that to rights. As always, cricket tragics are directed to Tony the Teacher’s After Grog Blog).


  1. Posted January 17, 2008 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Much better. India all out for 330. I can go to bed now 🙂

  2. Posted January 17, 2008 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    A few more than a few quick wickets followed, though.

  3. Posted January 17, 2008 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    And it get worse – 61/5.

  4. FDB
    Posted January 17, 2008 at 5:22 pm | Permalink


  5. Posted January 17, 2008 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Getting better – 132/5. Gilly and Symonds having some fun

  6. Tony.T
    Posted January 17, 2008 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Helen’s in for a rude shock when she wakes up. And I don’t mean the Pommy breakfast.

  7. Posted January 17, 2008 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Son-of-a-bitch – 180/6!!!!

    Gilchrist & Lee to the rescue I hope.

  8. Posted January 18, 2008 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    Oh shit oh dear. The Pommy breakfast was actually considerably bloody better than this. Oh yeah, and smug Indian Oxfordians majorly suck.

  9. Posted January 18, 2008 at 10:10 am | Permalink


    Do i understand correctly that the Islamic call to prayer is to shortly ring out around the dreaming spires of Oxford five times a day?

    Is the Anglican Church the world’s most useless organisation?

  10. Posted January 18, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    smug Indian Oxfordians majorly suck.

    Indians (particulalrly guys) currently embody 19th century British ettiquette. I mean that both as a compliment and an insult. Some of the lads are the most outstanding arseholes. A lots of women (including Indian women) won’t go out with ’em.

  11. Posted January 18, 2008 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    There’s the most almighty shitfight going on about it, Pommy. Not sure what the outcome will be. The irrits have all come from local residents, though, not the Anglican Church, which is being ‘nice’ and ‘welcoming’. It’s actually pretty funny.

  12. Deus Ex Macintosh
    Posted January 21, 2008 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    Is the Anglican Church the world’s most useless organisation?

    Pretty much … hasn’t it always been?

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