17 May
I was too slow to get my camera out for a few bizarre Oxfordesque sights in the past couple of days, which is a shame.
On my slow, hobbling journey to work each morning, I always pass the same people at the same time doing the same thing. Groundhog day really isn’t so far from the truth – if everyone else has a routine, it stands to reason that you see the same thing every morning. I walk down my street about 50 meters behind a guy with long hair, a suit and a laptop bag. I walk at about the same rate as a woman with two small kids on their way to get the bus to school. As I round the corner into Old Road I inevitably see, on the other pavement, a man walking his awesome husky/St Bernard cross kind of dog. Every morning I think, cool dog. I’d like a dog like that. A little further on, a woman cyclist with a basket on her bike pulls up at the end of Lime Walk.
However, yesterday, just past my last familiar figure with her basket, a new character entered the soap – a guy who looked like a student, and who had just toiled up one of the worst hills in Oxford on his bike, cycled past me in the very light rain holding an umbrella.
I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen someone do that. Surely there are some serious wind resistance issues there? Surely the rain will still get your knees, and your legs, and pretty much all of you despite the umbrella due to the speed you’re travelling and the cycling action? And he had come with great difficulty all the way up that hill. Why?!
Oxford never reaches a limit to its weirdness though – this afternoon I actually laughed out loud on the bus, as staring aimlessly out of the window onto the High Street, we passed a young man on Magdalen Bridge who was carrying, in one hand, a hatstand, and in the other, a life-size, pink papier mache model of a cow’s head mounted onto a piece of wood as a hunting trophie.
I don’t know.
The tables can easily be turned though. Only yesterday I was standing in Radcliffe Square with Simon, when a bunch of year 6 schoolkids doing an Oxford scavenger hunt came up and persuaded him to let them take a photo of him, as they had to get a picture of "the most intelligent person in Oxford". Hmm. You have to worry after a while what Oxford has made you into – a sight as strange as a man with a hatstand? Still, in the middle of finals that had to be more encouraging than embarassing.

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