Oxford problems: Why things need to move on from 1096

The rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia have become increasingly opaque since my graduation, but I promised a post about the darker side of Oxford, and with great effort it’s finally emerged. Before I start, please note that I’m abundantly aware that going to Oxford is a massive privilege in a lot of ways (some of which I’ve previously discussed here), but that doesn’t negate the gaping areas for improvement. I’ve thought a lot about how to point these out without falling too far into a dank pit of cynicism and unjustified self-pity, but it will no doubt be impossible to navigate the murky waters of talking about the Oxford university experience without occasionally straying from the invisible/non-existent channel of “reasonable, insightful and entertaining commentary”. It is also, as usual, based on my own experiences and opinions, and is intended as a personal viewpoint, not a factually supported study. So please read generously, and start a friendly discussion if you disagree with me or if I manage to cause hideous offence in some way.

P.S. This post is about course pressure and mental health. For the sake of focus, I’m not addressing social issues such as class; other people are doing that better than I could. For obvious reasons of experience, I’m only discussing Oxford, but I know that plenty of courses at other universities are hideously stressful, and this is not intended as a comparison with those. Continue reading


Anniversary post: Tales from my childhood

It has come to my attention that it’s almost exactly two years since I started this blog (well, its Blogger precedessor), and that this is my 50th post, so I’ve been wracking my brains for a suitably celebratory idea. I was tempted by some kind of compilation, but I’m not sure my fame and fortune has yet reached the point where that is justified. The answer eventually came to me in the form of a recently rediscovered English book from 1999-2000, when I was six, which I find (perhaps unreasonably) hilarious. I don’t actually remember writing the precocious literary masterpieces found within, but sharing them seemed a fitting way to mark two years of writing nonsense on the internet, although I’ll warn you now that there’s some really dark bits – those of a sensitive disposition might want to skip “Sally’s sad saturday”. Here are some letter-for-letter excerpts. If you want to picture them in a more authentic state, imagine nearly all of the lower-case b’s, d’s, g’s, q’s, y’s and p’s being back to front.

Continue reading