IT MIGHT not be ‘official’ but it’s as near as it gets: Oxford has become too expensive a place for mere mortals to live.

This week, BBC News revealed how the shortage of housing was affecting all walks of life, deterring people of all talents from moving here as prices continued to soar.

I thought it would be a lively topic to discuss with retired Army dentist Franklin when we met in our favourite Covered Market café.

In spite of a generous and well-earned pension, he had experienced difficulties finding a home in the Oxford area to suit both his wallet and his socially conscious wife Avril.

However, he was already critically engrossed in another matter.

“With so many marvellous things to photograph here, why was an American chap wasting his time snapping the sign outside West Oxford Democratic Club in East Street?” he asked.

“The fellow told me he thought it was cute. Cute? My God!”

Before I could steer him towards the Green Belt’s stranglehold on the city and the reluctance of neighbouring authorities to become overwhelmed dormitories for Oxford, he turned his disgust towards a young couple who were passing the café.

“Look! Both hands in his pockets. The scruffy devil seems to be holding his jeans up while she’s trying to pull her skirt down. So much for elegance!”

True, the crotch on the man’s jeans seemed nearer his knees than his backside while the hem of her tiny, tight, black skirt was heading northwards in spite of her constantly pushing it down.

But why were skirts, jeans and club signs annoying him?

He is normally peace and patience personified. A dentist with heart as well as drills and pliers.

Avril, laughing somewhat unkindly at the man in her life, had the answer.

“Two words,” she said. “Craig Joubert.”

It was then I remembered he was a rugby fan with loyalty to the land of his birth – Scotland.

Oxford’s troubles would have to wait for the time being.

I SEE the musical Singin’ in the Rain is to whet the appetite (pun intended) of Playhouse audiences next week.

I have no doubt the Oxford Student Company will do this 1952 Gene Kelly musical proud.

They are known for never selling their productions or their patrons short.

But how many will be recalling the iconic scene performed by a soaking Mr Kelly and from which the musical gets its name?

Or will they think back to the irreverent version delivered on television by our late and lamented Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise?

I reckon it will be a close call.

Maybe the students will serve up another version for us to treasure.