The American asked us to list all of the loves and hates of Oxford. ('Let's start with HATE', she said.) We came up with a few things:
Hates: smug Rhodes scholars, thick pollution and perennial allergies, narrow range of healthy eating options (we conceded that this has improved during our time here), terrible night clubs, feeling like you're regressing socially - relying on cheap gossip and discussions of national stereotypes to bond with people with whom you do not share a common history.
Loves: being somewhere imbued with the past, riding our bikes around (the breeze on your ears and shoulders), the Isis River, the University Parks, the arrival of the blossom trees, late night conversations in college bars, the opportunity to meet so many people from all around the world, its enchanting gardens and cloisters, the benefits of the bubble (minimal academia-haters, actual or perceived!).
But, I've got to say, the conversation fizzled out pretty quickly and we moved onto the social acceptability of full mouth kissing for casual greetings and the U.S. healthcare debate.
The next day, I considered why that topic deflated and it struck me that Oxford is not a place of huge dissonance. It is not a town that you could proclaim as a love-hate affair. It is for the most part very pleasant. While it is frustrating and stifling, you quickly learn its rhythms. You can't really hate a place that dutifully serves up malaise each of the three terms during weeks 4 and 8. Oxford's lows are as reliable as May Day.
One thing I will miss about England (eventually - I am not leaving any time soon, so I really don't need to embark on this nostalgic holiday) is some of the British television. I love it. I have already banged on about Stephen Fry, Frankie Boyle and other quiz show stars in other posts. Here, I plug their tremendous (painfully realistic) comedy dramas.
Here are some clips of two of my current favourites, Outnumbered and Jam and Jerusalem. The first is about a London family in which the parents are 'outnumbered' by their three cheeky children. It is semi-improvisational, chiefly the childrens' lines. The second (recommended to me by Miranda and her Man) is about a typical English village, focusing on the characters and crises of the local Women's Guild. ('Jerusalem' in the title refers to England's most popular patriotic song).
Jam and Jerusalem teasers on YouTube
Hope you enjoy them. I haven't had much energy for blogging of late. I am positively stressed out, as evidenced by me trying to recall at 3am this morning the characters from Street Fighter II (1991) on Nintendo and connect them to their signature moves and sounds: Sonic Boom!