Oxford is a university town. You can see this is true because some days the student’s bicycles outnumber the tourists.
Often when I’m in town, someone will ask me a question like, “Excuse me, could you point me in the direction of the Radcliffe Camera?” And I’ll say, Of course. 🙂 ” and do.
Even when people ask me for the directions to Magdalen Bridge and pronounce it Mag-da-len instead of Maud-lin, well, what can you do, I just say at the bottom of High Street, you can’t miss it.
Not everyone knows their Oxford Blue from their Stilton, and the streets are very narrow and the buildings of tall Cotswold stone and spires do look similar.
So I do try to do my best to direct someone to where they would like to go.
But every once in a while someone will ask me for directions to “Oxford University” and I just have to laugh.
You see, Oxford town is one great big university spread out over literally dozens of buildings.
Mostly the universities are behind great big doors.
The give-away is students milling about the big doors.
Walk thru the courtyard and you’ll find a university. Here’s one!
But it’s so hard to point someone in the right direction because, you see these three buildings? They are all universities! (In modern or in historic ways) The building on the left is the Radcliffe Camera, an ancient library still functioning as the repository for science texts, the church in the middle is the University Church of St Mary the Virgin (St Mary’s) and functioned as a university, and the building on the right is the Brasenose University.
This is the Brasenose University behind its huge front door. And this goes for the whole of Oxford, not just the centre pretty part.
So if you’re in the middle of Oxford and some tourist has the bad manners to ask you to point him to the Oxford University, you can pretty much point in any direction and say, “Go that way to the end of the street and turn right, you can’t miss it.” Chances are he will come to a university anyway, and, if he doesn’t, maybe he’ll find a nice pub to ask someone else. 🙂