Yeah I know I nicked the title off that Billy Connolly thing, but it’s funny.
So as I am on my gap year, I thought I should do some travelling. I am quite a systematic and comprehensive sort of person, thus I thought – ‘why go travelling all around the world when I haven’t experienced the true beauties on my own doorstep?’. So it was created – throughout the year I will seek to visit as many places in the UK as possible.
Matthew Arnold famously called it the “city of dreaming spires”, and spires there were – here there and everywhere.
Dad was going there to do some research in a library about a guy called Benjamin Beddome. So I had the entire day to myself to explore.
Oxford is a great place for charity shops, I must have gone to about 7 or 8. When I go to charity shops I normally buy Cassette Videos – they are cheap and there’s a lot of good films out there that people don’t want, purely because they are VHS!
I went to the first Oxfam ever! I’m not being biased but I think it’s also the best Oxfam ever, they had the most Cd’s and videos I have ever seen. All I’m saying is that my bag was a lot heavier on the way back than on the way there ;-)
I also went to the this Modern Art place, their current gallery was by Gary Hume, called ‘Door Paintings’.
I was a bit divided, part of me could really appreciate this artist’s obsession with doors, and the fact that he had dedicated most of his life to doors. The other, more traditional side of me says – what a waste of time!
But it was quite cool.
I went to an amazen square-courtyard place thing (Quadrangle), outside the Bodleian Library. There was a door leading into a library for each subject (The Trivium: Logic, Grammar, Rhetoric / The Quadrivium: Arithmetic, Astronomy, Geometry, Music / Philosophy / Languages)
I was told that a must see was Blackwell’s Books, founded in 1879 by Benjamin Henry Blackwell, this bookshop boasts to be ‘Britain’s Best Bookshop’, with the basement below apparently holding 3 miles of books.
To be honest it’s nothing when you have a Waterstones on most streets in central London, basically the same size.
It’s only gimmick is that it’s old, and it’s publish-ees are pretty high profile – in 1915 J. R. R. Tolkien’s first poem, “Goblin’s Feet”, was published by Blackwells.
While I was there I bought Gaudete by Ted Hughes, it looks pretty good. I was tempted to splash out on The Complete Lyrics of Bob Dylan but who needs it when you have lyrics on the net – unless you’ve got the cash, it’s just the presentation you’re paying for.
I was tipped off about an indie record store called ‘Panda Bear’ which was apparently around the Oxford area. I managed to work out that it was on Cowley Road, which is a good 10 minutes walk from the centre tourist-ish bit.
The bad news is that ‘Panda Bear’ no longer exists, but the good news is that I found several more charity shops, bought several more videos and also found one of the coolest shops ever, it’s called Bead Games & Bohemian Nights. Very cool fancy dress, party stuff, jokes – general fun. My sort of shop!
So this was my first stop on tour, I would sum Oxford up by saying it’s a great place for posh people, charity shop lovers and historical architecture admirers.