Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Sorry to have been off piste for a while, but at least I've been to Oxford on a bright warm April day, the streets awash with cycling professors and neo-punk girls. Unsuccessfully avoiding one of my favourite bookshops- Blackwell Art & Architecture, I then started to loiter with intent along unfamiliar streets, particularly in North Oxford with its detached houses of red brick and tiles forming the backdrops to billowing pink and white blossomings. Perhaps many are now divided up into flats, but it's still perfectly possible to imagine dons bent over Heroditus in their studies, dutiful wives out on the terraces with Bombay Sapphires, and the ghost of John Betjeman in the evening- "Oh! Fuller's angel-cake, Robertson's marmalade / Liberty lampshade, come shine on us all". And then St.Aldates and a wonderful timber survivor that embellishes the pavement outside the post office. Don't you just love that 'Newspapers and packets"? Only one sight caused me a little grief, as I ranged up my camera in The Broad to snap this row of gabled cottages with their warm stone roof tiles and coloured renders. Visitors to Unmitigated England know of my distaste for the current fad of over decorating buses, but how can the city live with this playschool crayoning? So come on Oxford, this isn't Blackpool; rise up from your sofas and re-runs of Morse and Lewis and demand something that better reflects and complements the beautiful and absorbing sights to be seen from the top deck.