Day Trip to Oxford

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The train arrived at a different platform than originally scheduled. Having gotten to the station early and just set my feet down the stairs the call came over the PA announcing the change. There was an audible grumbling from the people already gathered on the platform. It’s not uncommon for such changes to happen especially on a Sunday. Everyone waiting for the same train meandered defeated up the stairs across the causeway and down to Platform 1. I decided to step out for some fresh air. 

“Where is coach D gonna be?”

“Let’s have a look…” We both stared at the screen looking for the location of the first class coach, that one is coach A and D follows alphabetically from it. It’s a slow morning on my part. Having gotten up at my usual time coinciding with the point at which the sun rises above the buildings and trees in the east. There was enough time for me to make my fruit salad breakfasts for the next two days. 

The day before was when I originally thought that I’d be going out to Oxford. I balked at that having seen the prices of the tickets. If I bought them in Thursday… Well I had to wait for my delayed paycheck. Due to issues beyond my control I had to wait. For the sake of my sanity going places is important. I’ve always seen this whole experience over the past number of years as a working vacation. I haven’t settled anywhere and my roots are still germinating within the seed. 


There were signs in Stafford giving notice to roads being closed off for some sort of civic parade. Since I knew that I was going away on Sunday I decided to go into town and see what it was all about. All the things that I would normally do on Sunday had to be done today. The shopping and the other chores were to be taken care of today. Life is pretty simple these days. 


This little town has all that one needs in terms of shops and cafés. The weather outside is nice with the sun shining bright only occasionally blocked by a moving cloud making its way across the sky. 

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It would have been rude to ignore the man sitting next to me that started chatting to me. Was an older gentleman who started to discuss his experiences in the fifties and sixties. He just got off at Lemington Spa but out conversation started as we were leaving from Birmingham New Street. He started by commenting on the “finished” state of construction at this station. As he spoke I struggled to understand him at times more so with respect to the content of his words than the words themselves. He was jumping from one place to the next as he talked about the destruction of Victorian era Fran stations that survived the bombings. In the late fifties and early sixties there always a man who disliked this sort of architecture and used his power to demolish these structures. London Euston is one such station. It used to have a grand arch whose destruction is still lamented to this day. The station they built is woeful and may be replaced one day. 

He told me about the way the BBC controlled the type of music that people got to hear. Their virtual monopoly in radio and broadcasting limited people’s exposure to new forms of music and the different artists who created them. The guy’s own mother was one such victim as the BBC wouldn’t give her any time since she didn’t attend a certain grammar school. This sort of class structure is slowly breaking down but it is still strong in this country. The fact that people from certain backgrounds are able to dominate and control like this has recently come under scrutiny by the parliament. 


The man boasted that back in the day he was involved with pirate radio. There were boats that broadcast from the ocean various different music of that time. It became popular but was illegal as there were no licenses available to broadcast in this manner. It forced the corporation to change and the man was present at some princes’s birthday when it all kicked off. He said that he met a lot of people then. He still enjoys some good rock music as well as restoring old radios from the time. It was the reason for his trip down here. He was meeting “like minded individuals” who share in this passion. 


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My story about yesterday was interrupted by the old man. He just kept talking and I didn’t want to be rude. Seat conversation etiquette had to be followed. Yesterday was a colder day than today. Those three or four degrees make a difference. The plan was to have a coffee and check out the parade. It didn’t seem like it was going to be some crazy parade. There were no floats anywhere or any giant animal shaped balloons either. My coffee finished too quickly and there was still some time to go. 


Ba(r)be was on her way home late from a friends. We were chatting as she made her way back home late at night from her friend’s. I was sitting In the park waiting for the parade getting some sun. By the time it was the parade was starting I was engrossed by writing yesterday’s post and missed the beginning. It wasn’t much of a parade. It was just some old “posh” people walking together as a group into the church. 

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Time to go back. Some dickhead is sitting in my seat and won’t move. I contemplated making a scene but it’s not worth it. It might appear that I am being prejudiced due to who he is and who I am. If you are sitting in a reserved seat you move that is the etiquette. The question at moments like these is how far do you take it? There is a part of me that wants to respond with violence and another that wants to whine to the ticket inspector. In the end this situation doesn’t make me happy the train is empty enough to get a different seat. If I let this bother me too much it will ruin the nice time I had walking around the streets of Oxford. 


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Teaching began at Oxford sometime around 1069 although the university was officially founded in 1251. It is the oldest university in the UK. Many presidents and prime ministers were educated there. In the beginning the colleges were organized around different catholic orders at the various churches that were built there. These developed and were reformed over time until the present where Oxford ranks as one of the top universities in the world. The best and the wealthiest from around the world come here to study and network. 


There was this college philosophy prof I had one year who went to Oxford. He was telling us some story about his days spent there. He was attending the school at the same time as Bill Clinton. Bill was at a different fraternity or house from his. Clinton went there as a Rhodes scholar but what the prof remembers about that time and what he conveyed to us is that he caught Bill urinating on his building. We found this anecdote quite funny but we moved on to more serious discussions about something that I don’t remember now. 


The city is filled with many old impressive looking buildings. None of them are really tall but they are quite ornate. The place reeks of history as many important discoveries were and continue to be made there. Since this place is such an attractive place for student from all over the world because of its prestige it also attracts the money to invest into research and eventually spin off into businesses. 


There was no real plan here. Whatever I see I see. The place is filled with enough interesting things that it can safely occupy me for the few hours that I have here. The only thing that was suggested to me to see was the museum. The day was really nice. There is plenty of sunshine and people visiting these parts. Narrow streets made it seem like it was busy and bustling. The high street with it many restaurants offered a welcome alternative to my usual diet. 


Earlier in the day there was some sort of a run in the town. Many people were wearing bright orange t-shirts while others wore t-shirts with the name of the houses they are associated with. Medals received from the race for participation hung proudly around their necks. Nostalgic feelings of my time spent at university came back to me. All those days on campus all those seasons, all those thoughts immersed in subjects that have shaped the way my mind works now. 


OUMNH as it’s known affectionally is housed in an old Victorian building that has a glass ceiling. Giant skeletons hung suspended from the ceiling in a great display of what lies beneath the surface. There were even reproductions of dinosaurs which served to show how big they were in real life. The hall was lined with statues of men of renown from history. Some were known to me others were not. As I walked around the area there was another room called the Pitts Museum. Inside were cultural artefacts from all over the world. These artefacts were arranged according to their use or origin. There was a large totem pole from British Columbia, Maori cloths and costumes, Inuit furs and clothing, a surprisingly large section of hukas and pipes, masks, pottery, writing instruments… A lot of stuff confined in a small place. Both of these rooms were not that big. 


After leaving I made my way to another museum after rounding through some other streets. It was the History of Science Museum that houses many historical science instruments. One of those instruments is the microscope through which scientists discovered and studied the teeming life found in all parts of the world. By observing the very small we have gained insight into ourselves. 


0754 The next day

As I got off the train last night I spoke with the train manager and she told me that she would have dealt with the passenger. She was a new train manager the other one left the train at the same time as buddie who wouldn’t move. On my walk home I wondered if I let him get away with his rude behavior and then I thought that I took the higher road. I still wish him ill will his apology was insincere and I’ll forget about this situation in time. 


I was in a rush. I needed to get to a connection where I could sit and talk with my other back home. The coffee shops and everything else closes early in this town. In North America coffee shops stay open way later than they do here. I could have gone to the pub but that isn’t my style. 


We talked for a long while relaying our experiences of our respective days. She told me about her shopping excursion with her girlfriend I told her about my day in Oxford. There is always so much to talk about. After we finished an hour and a half later I made some lunch and then decided to call one of my aunts who I haven’t talked to for a while. There was a lot to talk about. We went in for a bit too long and then it’s time for bed as the week is starting again. 

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