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 Oxford, UK, Earth

Status: Submitted 20000127
Approved for review 20000209

%t Oxford, England, UK, Earth
%n 8R
%s Old Buildings And Silly Rules
%a Alex Gough  (
%d 20000127
%x Oxford University Speculative Fiction Group (OUSFG)
%x Latin, On The Ad Hoc Use Of
%x Cambridge, England, UK, Earth
%x Earth
%x London, England, UK, Earth
%k Europe

Oxford is one of the most historic towns in England. It has been the scene of battles, a place of martyrdom [1], and from time to time the capital of England. Since those distant but great days the city has steadily declined, losing its importance in government but gaining a one way system to stretch even the most proficient of its mathematical professors.

Oxford is situated where the river Thames, locally called the Isis, meets the river Cherwell. It gained its name as it was the lowest point along both rivers where cattle might safely cross without the use of a bridge. This is now of minimal importance as people also wished to cross the river without getting their feet wet or loosing their cows as they swam into the distance, and built bridges.

Oxford is a really old place, so old in fact that even New College was founded in the twelfth century [2]. Many of the buildings in Oxford have been around for so long that during a dull moment in the sixteenth century, they all fell into a deep slumber and have not awoken since. This is why Oxford is sometimes known as the city of dreaming spires.

Oxford is also a progressive city. In an attempt to make up for the brilliance of its original artisans the city council have carefully followed a policy of promoting very bad architecture so that the rest of the country does not become too jealous of its heritage. This explains the Clarendon center, the Westgate Center and almost all of West Oxford. Unless driven by a desire to see the very best in Eastern-Bloc urban planning the tourist is advised to avoid these areas.

Amongst the many important historical monuments in Oxford is the Castle. This structure dates from a long time ago and is notable as all that remains is a very small grassy hill in the center of the city with a commanding view of the railway station and car park. While the castle might once have safeguarded the western approaches to London and made sure that cattle crossed the river downstream of the town, its only function today is to amuse drunken students who like to injure themselves by rolling down its steep and slippery sides.

Oxford also has a fine collection of drunks and Mexican flute bands. The drunks are best viewed in the late afternoon or early evening and will usually gather together on New Inn Hall street where they will share liquor, stories of the sober world, and various diseases with one another. They are always happy to meet a tourist and are quite tame as long as no one tries to feed them. The Mexican flute bands, with a large repertoire of taped Mexican flute music, can be seen on the Cornmarket where they cause an obstruction as people stop on their way past to hurl abuse and vegetables.

Oxford is home to the one of the oldest universities in the world. Its great age, combined with its federal structure, causes it to have some of the oddest traditions and rules outside of freemasonry, and a dress code to rival the most exclusive hotels and country clubs. Students must attend all official functions and exams wearing sub fusc, a black suit, gown, and a white bow tie (black ribbon for women). Along with this the students must carry but never wear a mortar board hat. Although highly inconvenient, especially when cycling, this uniform can be used to procure drinks and even meals from interested (gullible) tourists who wish to photograph the quaint Englishman as they relax in the pub after a stressful exam. In addition to the ludicrous dress code, students are able to demand 'ale and cakes' at any point during an exam, must live within six miles of a tower, and are expressly forbidden from driving cattle through the Sheldonian theatre.

Students at Oxford feel deep antipathy towards their academic brethren at Cambridge. This is manifested in the pseudonyms they give to said institution: "The Other Place", "The University of East Anglia" and "Tabland". This antipathy is based upon the belief that Oxford is, generally speaking, better than Cambridge (except at racing rowing boats). This stems from an ancient tradition and is thus entirely irrational, especially as Cambridge is remarkably similar to Oxford, even down to the adoption of punting as a form of recreation [3].

If the tourist wishes to have fun in Oxford he should make his way to Jericho. Here he will find the Phoenix Picture House, the best cinema in town; George and Davies, ice cream and coffee emporium with a lot of very comforting cows on the walls; and the Radcliffe Arms, home to the cheapest pub-food for miles around. Jericho is also near Port Meadow where a tourist might like to take a walk by the river and look at the horses who live there.

[1] Bishops Latimer and Ridley were burnt at the stake for refusing to accept Elizabeth's new protestant church. A cross on Broad Street indicates the position of their fiery doom.
[2] 1379, to be precise.
[3] It has been observed though that the end from which the boat is propelled is different in each city. Persons from Oxford stand in the back of the punt and move the boat forwards, while persons in Cambridge stand upon the raised front end of the punt and drive the vehicle backwards.

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