THE trio – a married couple and the wife’s widowed sister – were cut off from their High Wycombe over-60s chums. They were wandering along Merton Street hoping to find a way into Broad Walk. A visit to Christ Church and its famous dining hall awaited.

The wife spotted an impressive doorway. It was the entrance to Corpus Christi, where instead of salvation, she was faced with a notice that read: ‘Positively NO trashing in college.’ Both she and her sister were appalled to hear ‘such goings-on’ occurred in Oxford. Nothing like that happened at her college, said his wife, mentioning the name of a north-west ‘lesser centre of learning’ as my old headmaster described everywhere other than Oxbridge.

“I don’t suppose they could find anything worth trashing,” stated the haughty husband.

He buttonholed me and asked how to get to Broad Walk. I obliged, but as he didn’t ask, I didn’t bother to mention the great hall was closed to the public. Was I being naughty?

“IT’S the out-of-towners who cause the problems,” said Ian, the baritone euphonium player who busks in the city centre.

He, guitarists Johnny and Henry, pianist Tim and Tommy the cycling white rabbit, are regulars; they have permits, are courteous to everyone, do not occupy a spot longer than the permitted hour and never play so loud as to deafen the public. The same could not be said for the ‘out-of-towners’, he said and named a few offenders. No wonder the council was concerned.

I would dearly love to suggest a solution for city centre manager Laurie-Jane Taylor and her street ambassadors who have done so much to improve the area, but short of running identifiable infiltrators out of town on a dust cart, I’m at a loss.

MOST people were shocked to hear of the death of former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy. I met him only once – and the experience was delightful.

In another life I took student journalists to the Palace of Westminster as part of their central government studies. We would briefly tour the House of Lords and the Commons before hanging from the press gallery for Prime Minister’s Questions. In those days Maggie Thatcher held sway.

The tour was always organised by a local MP. However, on this occasion the Hon Member forgot and our party stood like lemons in Central Lobby wondering what next to do.

Suddenly up stepped this young man – not much older than my students – and asked what the problem was. “Is that all?” he said. “Come on.” He gave us a tour of length and content only matched years later by the Beast of Bolsover himself, Dennis Skinner. Thank you, Mr Kennedy.