IF there’s one thing that really annoys me it’s hearing people say Oxford is boring.
Speaking as a relative newcomer of just nine years, I wish a law existed sentencing those who dared mouth this sentiment to...oh, why be charitable? Let’s say six months hard labour in Swindon.
Because for all its many faults, the one thing you can’t accuse Oxford of being is tedious.
I know this for a fact since having lived in the world’s most boring town – Chippenham – I have developed a kind of feeling, a sixth sense as it were, for what is and what isn’t.
So believe me when I say that far worse than Chippenham or Swindon is ANYWHERE in Denmark (by comparison, it makes Didcot seem like Las Vegas).
Having criss-crossed the country many years ago, I still wake today in the cold hours before dawn, weeping out of fear I might one day try to wear yellow socks beneath beige, open-toed sandals (it’s that profound a mental scar).
Indeed, I would suggest the only thing Denmark has got going for itself is a 24-hour sex industry but, astonishingly, even that loses its appeal once you realise the Danish aren’t in fact sex mad but simply desperate to escape the monotony of living in a country where brown dominates.
Not, I hasten to add, do I consider it their fault. Rather it’s their geography that lets them down.
In what is certainly the most harrowing Sunday drive I have ever endured (a short jaunt out of Copenhagen), I still remember the sudden admiration I felt for its people’s resilience in the face of a landscape contrived solely to depress and disturb (had the Famous Five holidayed there, it’d have been their last).
Of course, its meteorological equivalent of a McDonald’s salad does little to help but, as the saying goes: “Flat is as flat does...”, and I challenge anyone to appreciate ‘flat’ until they’ve driven, ridden and walked across this particular European neighbour.
Hell, Cornmarket by comparison is a veritable Yellowstone and Monument Valley rolled into one, and Botley a part of the Alps.
Which is why I never, ever take this city for granted. And not just because of its architectural beauty either.
Oxford as a community, whether Town or Gown, throbs.
In fact, I can’t think of any other city in the world where the ability to lose oneself is so brilliantly encouraged and provided for.
Which is why not once, since putting down roots here, have I ever wished I hadn’t.
Compared to the cities and countries I’ve lived in and visited, Oxford still shines as brightly as ever. And even during the recent gloom of the heavy rains, it’s cheered me.
Heartwarming isn’t it?