Friday 8 June 2007

Stuck-in-a-Book's Oxford: Part Two

Hello again - welcome to part two of the most subjective tour of Oxford you're likely to find anywhere. What treats are in store for you today... well, let's leap in where I left off. I've cleverly altered the colour of the numbering, to help you out. But hadn't anticipated the pains and complications double figures would bring. Can't colour within the lines.

#7 Where you will never find Stuck-in-a-BookAs part of being a Magdalen undergraduate, for various reasons, we were all given free gym membership. Yippee. I have used this opportunity a total of once... oh, no, wait - a total of never. But now I have photographic evidence that it exists - and, in walking there, got all the exercise a man could ever need.

#8 St Ebbe's
This was my church for a couple of years, until I changed at the beginning of this academic year. I'm now at Oxford Community Church, which doesn't appear in this tour because it doesn't even appear on the map. Long way off to the left... Outside St Ebbe's is the emblem of student Oxford: a bike rack. Another form of exercise with which I have nothing to do. (That was torturous preposition- ending- sentence- avoidance.)

#9 Primark
Don't let anyone tell you that Oxford students are sophisticated. About a year and a half ago, the rumours were proved true, and Primark opened. For those not in the know, this is a clothing store of astounding cheapness, and general stylishness. People spoke of little else for weeks, and even camped out for the opening - the next few days were spent doing Spot the Primark Shopping Bag. Or rather, Spot the Person Who Isn't Carrying A Primark Shopping Bag, which proved far more difficult.

#10 OxStuMarginally more cultural, this dingy little office is where I spent many Monday mornings, typing out the Drama page for Oxford Student, one of the two student newspapers. My friend Phoebe and I were drama editors - because the previous one was fired, for giving his own plays enormous, congratulatory reviews. We were invited to take up the position because we didn't know anything about drama... I'm joking, but only just. A couple of terms saw me regularly ascend these stairs, and fiddle around with Apple Macs and InDesign, losing photos and having to edit 500 word reviews into a paragraph.

#11 BookbinderNever been in here, but isn't it interesting? Lisa informs me that Maltby is a bibliopegist, has been since 1834 without a moment's rest, and I always enjoy glancing in this window as I pass. In fact, St. Michael's Street is one of the nicest shopping streets in Oxford, inasmuch as it is quiet, and has independent shops, rather than chains.

#12 Arcadia
On the same street, this is probably my favourite shop in Oxford. Arcadia sell secondhand books, mostly paperbacks with lots of old Penguins, cards, beautiful wrapping paper, and a range of nice gifts. And very friendly sales assistants, which often seems to go hand-in-hand with independent shops.

#13 Waterstones
Before I cement my hippie ideals, scattering petals throughout the countryside and eschewing all commercialism, here is Waterstones. I must admit, I don't frequent this bookshop as much as Blackwell's, but Waterstones is prettier. And that is that for today - but, fear not, the tour is not yet finished. Next time I shan't feature a single shop, so all the purchasing endeavour is exhausted.


  1. From Massachusetts: I've enjoyed your tour very much. Question: Is there still a business called Pennyfarthing? Love the name. I rented a bike there once. While my librarian husband was visiting libraries that had "American Studies" programs we had a week in Oxford, staying at a guest house on Park Street(?). Since I've never been much of a walker I enjoyed having wheels for the week. I have some great memories of that time, especially about Radcliffe Camera and about my reader's card. Keep us up on your library experiences.

  2. OOOpppsss! In trying to trim the size of that post I omitted a key word or two:

    > While my librarian husband was visiting libraries _at_schools_ that had "American Studies" programs we had a week in Oxford...


I've now moved to, and all my old posts are over there too - do come and say hello :)

I probably won't see your comment here, I'm afraid, but all my archive posts can also be found at