“STANDARDS slipping, I see.”

The condemnation came from the sartorially elegant George when our paths collided in the shadow of Carfax Tower. Always observant, that's this former Metropolitan Police officer.

It was the first time he had seen me tie-less, and to be fair, I couldn't recall the previous time I'd paraded 'improperly dressed' in Oxford. There are things you never do.

But it was Tuesday, the hottest day of the year, and compared with most people I was positively muffled. There was more bare flesh on display than you'd see in 12 months at Smithfield Market.

Miranda, married to George for far too long (her words), came to my defence before saying she had tried in vain to get him to leave his sports jacket at home. An MCC tie, sans jacket, was unthinkable, he said.

THERE was a general air of happiness. When a two-year-old girl, out with her young parents, spontaneously offered me a jelly baby, my cup did runneth over.

Not even colliding with the outstretched legs of an assumed homeless man in crowded George Street was to be allowed to spoil the day. The legs, shrouded in dirty jeans, protruded from the doorway of a closed shop. Surely I wasn't the first that morning.

I stumbled coming to rest against an unforgiving wall. Turning towards the man – probably in his early 20s – I prepared to apologise for courtesy's sake, but was interrupted by a lengthy string of nouns and adjectives from the Compendium of Foul Language.

The question of blame no longer seemed to matter. It was better to walk on.

ANY shadow on the morning was quickly removed by a group of Italian teenagers armed with a sheet of questions.

“Can you help us?” said one pretty miss, eyelashes flickering, blatantly pushed forward by boys in the group correctly assuming I would help. “It's too hot to wander around. We want to sit by the river.”

MIND you, I was in high spirits from the previous evening after seeing the delightful Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran musical, Save the Last Dance for Me, at the New Theatre. It is a real 'feel good' show in the Dreamboats and Petticoats league, with classical songs from the 1960s.

Sitting the row behind were two grandmas of ripe years. There were many of a similar vintage in the audience. The pair giggled like schoolgirls; the giggle of one had a slightly rusty edge, while the other sounded more like a timid mouse hoping the cat wouldn't hear. Both were determined to enjoy every tune, remembering most words, but 'la'la-ing where they didn't.

All right, I admit it. I had to la-la in places.