Occupation: Pub landlord
Favorite item of vintage clothing: Waistcoats
STEW BEEF! The greatest Landlord in Oxford.
Occupation: Pub landlord
Favorite item of vintage clothing: Waistcoats
STEW BEEF! The greatest Landlord in Oxford.
One of my favourite places on grounds. From the plaque: A pinnacle of Merton College Chapel Tower, Erected 1451, Presented to The University of Virginia 1927 by Merton College, Oxford
It is a generally known fact that I am rather unromantic about my PhD/being a career academic. The reasons for this are rational, true, and- I think- healthy. Yet this is not the whole story. Last week, my first week in Charlottesville, I took a run up to campus. When I run I listen to music. That evening, as I ran up The Lawn and the steps of the Rotunda- ‘Encore’- blazing in my ears, I realized several things in succession or all at once. Memory is a bitch like that; it’s hard to figure out how and why things cohere. I realized how blessed I am that at each step my education- BA, MPhil, and now PhD- I have lived and worked in truly inspiring places. Each campus has its own unique charm but they are all the same in that their specific geographies militate in favor of productive reflection. Asbury is the quintessential liberal arts college and an All American small town, Oxford is iconic in the strongest terms, and UVA is perhaps the cradle of American public education.
My trifecta of North Oxford gems. The city center Big 5 steal most of Oxford’s Publight: Turf, KA, White Horse, Lamb and Flag, and Bird and Baby. All are, to a certain extent, obligatory and hold a somewhat affectionate place in my heart. Mostly, though, they are a pain to frequent as they are perma-rammed with people. They can be fun for a loud night but when I just want to have a pint and bite with friends they are borderline traumatic. I mean last summer Pete and I were trying to flesh out our Alps plan at Turf and had to shout across the table.
Thus I give you my North Oxford favs. Good beer, good food, and generally more pleasing atmosphere. The Royal Oak is a big place on Banbury but full of nooks and crannies to have a quiet word in, and generally has something interesting on tap. The Rose and Crown is the queen of North Parade, one of Oxford’s prettiest streets and one of the last genuine Free Houses in Oxford. For me, though, the GA is home.
Tucked in on Plantation Road (there is also a GA on N. Parade) it is to me the perfect pub. Great food (100% Veggie/Vegan but by god their chilli must have the flesh of dead animals in it it is so so so so hearty), quality beers and fun landlords. It manages to have a good vibe by not trying to beat you over the head with it’s Britishness or quaintness like most pubs in Oxford. Moreover, it is rarely frequented by marauding bands of undergrads or tourists. It feels as if it is a ‘real’ pub tucked into a town of Pub-like places. When I lived in Jericho I would pop round for a pint and to write. Something unthinkable in Turf.
I guess the GA’s status as the OUMC pub helped build my affection. 1-?? pints/week since sometime in 2007- with ocean induced hiatuses of various length tossed in- builds some loyalty. But still, even new comers love it. And a venerable old Jericho pub connoisseur- who can remember jamming with river tramps in front room pubs- claims it is the last ‘real pub’ in Jericho. Anyhow, all 3 are good, and a damn bit better than the madhouses in City Center.
North Parade. One of my favourite streets in Oxford (Taken with Instagram). Home of The Rose and Crown, On the Hoof, Luna Caprese, Chez Gaston and others. Quiet but fun. RC is one of Oxford’s last true free houses and Luna claims to be her oldest continuously operating eatery. Chez Gaston is a great lazy Sunday lunch and On the Hoof helps one recover from one of the pub’s celebrated impromptu lock ins.
When you first come to Oxford, it takes your breath away. And yes, to this day some of the ‘Big’ Oxford sights and scenes- The Rad Cam, The Turf, The Duke Humfries, etc- are near and dear to me. And yet, after spending most of my post-21 life (now 26) here or wanting to be here, I find, as with all old lovers, it is the small things I miss the most and hold closest when I return. It is first sight of Magdalen tower on the Oxford Tube from London. It is exchanging pleasantries with boat dwellers while running along the soggy tow path towards Banbury. It is the click of my heels on the floors of the Bod. It is the smell of Port Meadow mud stuck to my running shoes the next day, its arcid taste in my mouth after a slip. It’s the way Radcliffe Square looks at first light, before its mobbed with tourists, as you find your way home. It’s shooting the shit with the night porters at Wadham. It’s the good morning from the Bodleian staff and the due credit earned after years of showing up at 9am, put together and wearing a smile. It’s the clarity of the light after an afternoon rain shower when the whole city is drenched in gold and green and blue. It’s the memory of memories made in corners, pubs, gardens, libraries and lawns. It is a catalogue of every good and bad decision of the last 5 years. The desk sat in when I saw my first manuscript, the book store I met her in, and another thousand little pieces of me. The thing with Oxford is that it is not dead. Far from it. It is alive and alive to the lives it holds and even the hearts it breaks. It has its own history that cannot be subsumed to any one person’s own narrative. It is not a blank slate upon which we wrote our names, but an active agent in our lives. Oxford never stays the same and never really changes. She is a bottomless well. The girl you love because the more you know her the less you have her and more you yourself are the one possessed. Like Paris it is a 1000 cities that are all the same and all different all at the same time. While parts of me wish I was staying here forever, I think this past year, the contrapuntal motion of Oxford in my life- Kentucky-Italy-Oxford-Kentucky-Oxford-Kentucky-Oxford- has made me realize what I love and miss, and to cherish it, but not lapse into nostalgia. Too much of what I see of others seeing Oxford is blind nostalgia or escapism. It is a desire for Oxford as we desire her to be rather than simply as she is: a place the makes and breaks and mends hearts and minds. It is easy to love the pretty buildings, glamorous balls, and idylic gardens; it is much harder to make peace with not living here but still love being here, to learn to love the mark her absence makes, to learn not to envy those who still remain, and not feel threatened by her other lovers- to love Oxford today precisely because you will leave tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Forgotten bike. (Taken with Instagram)
All Souls (Taken with Instagram)
Life goes slower in Oxford summers. (Taken with Instagram). Btw, the house at the end of this lane is my dream house in Oxford. My favorite pub across the way, quiet street, big garden, medieavl brickwork, ready access to N Oxford, Stown and the Bod. Really, if someone would loan me a cool 2m I think I could swing it.
Sir Thomas Bodley (Taken with Instagram)
Straight up dude. Founded the Library. Was Duke of Gloucester.
Bodley’s greatest achievement was the re-founding of the library at Oxford. In 1470, the library had been presented to the university as a gift from Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of Henry IV. However, during the Reformation of the 1550s, the library had been stripped and abandoned, remaining virtually untouched until the return of Bodley in 1598. The library was later named the Bodleian Library in his honour. He determined, he said, “to take his farewell of state employments and to set up his staff at the library door in Oxford.” In 1598 his offer to restore the old library was accepted by the university. Bodley began his book collection effort in 1600, using the site of the former library above the Divinity School, which was in near ruin.
Although Bodley lived over 400 years ago, modern libraries benefit from some of his ideas and practices.
One important idea that Bodley implemented was the creation of a “Benefactors’ Book” in 1602, which was bound and put on display in the library in 1604. While he did have funding through the wealth of his wife, Ann Ball, and the inheritance he received from his father, Bodley still needed gifts from his affluent friends and colleagues to build his library collection. Although not a completely original idea (as encouragement in 1412 the university chaplain was ordered to say mass for benefactors), Bodley recognized that having the contributor’s name on permanent display was also inspiring. According to Louis B. Wright,
He had prepared a handsome Register of Donations, in vellum, in which the name of every benefactor should be written down in a large and fair hand so all might read. And he kept the Register prominently displayed so that no visitor to the library could escape seeing the generosity of Bodley’s friends. The plan, as it deserved, was a success, for its originator found that, ‘every man bethinks himself how by some good book or other he may be written in the scroll of the benefactors.’
For over four centuries, this innovative idea has continued to motivate friends of libraries everywhere.
Another significant event related to Bodley was the agreement between the Bodleian Library and the Stationer’s Company, in which “the Company agreed to send to the Library a copy of every book entered in their Register on condition that the books thus given might be borrowed if needed for reprinting, and that the books given to the Library by others might be examined, collated and copied by the Company.”
This was the beginning of legal deposit libraries, and today the Bodleian is one of six such libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In 2003, the Copyright Act of 1911 was expanded to include information on CD-ROM and websites. This regulation is in place to ensure the collection and preservation of all published materials as an accurate, up to date historical record.
Turf Tavern. Wet. (Taken with Instagram)
Wet morning walk. Tanx Oxford. (Taken with Instagram)
Bromancing and punting. And yah, that is the Great Seal of The Commonwealth of Kentucky on my shirt….United We Stand, Divided We Fall. Daniel Boone and Isaac Shelby were two serious G’s. I am so Kentucky I got my name on my belt and my state on my shirt. Even in Oxford. Scott is also my only yank friend who has successfully- but completely unintentionally- developed an actual British accent. It fits as he is also the guy who was believably Kentucky after 2 years of college and learned Nepali on the fly. Guess when you come from Nasty Natti you have lots of room to improve. Thanks to the lovely Lise for requisitioning the punt. And for facilitating the Bubbly the night before. True Oxford experience for Scott. Crash a formal in jeans. Drink all the Champagne (Cava/Brut in truth). Leave. Get lost in Univ on the way out. Rally to punt the next day. Listen to Wulyf (we miss you Ian, Steavo, TC, Occoee and Winny…). Love life.
If a person is stuck in the stacks fantasizing about librarians, I’m assuming it’s because they can’t find their book and need help real...
It takes an ocean not to break.