It's nice to have the odd adventure and last weekend Owen and I left London to simmer in the heat and took to the road (well, railway line) and visited Oxford for the day.
It was a bit of a time-travel moment for Owen as he went to college in Oxford at the end of the 70s for a short while before realising it wasn't for him and moving on. So it was interesting to walk around it with him as he kept up the mantra "this wasnt here then".
What was there was the tiny pub that he remembered drinking in listening to that heady combination of punk and disco on the jukebox, now very much changed but at least it was still there with a seeming emphasis on live music. Oddly enough this week we walked past the pub in Mayfair which was my 70s after-work drinkerie of choice - namely because the downstairs bar had a great jukebox packed with the same combination of punk and disco.We went round the Ashmolean Museum which was a nice way to waste an hour or so on a sizzling lunchtime. It had the requisite one-off work by famous painters as all regional galleries have but there were also some paintings that I had on my usual shopping list for when I am allowed to run around with a shopping trolley for 10 minutes namely an evocative John Singer Sargent parting of an Italian balustrade and I got my Bloomsbury fix with Mark Gertler's vividly bold portrait of Gilbert Cannan by his mill home with J.M. Barrie's dog Porthos who was the basis for 'Nana' in PETER PAN.They have a nice cafe in the basement too by the way.
Oxford was pleasant enough but I could hardly see any of it thanks to every building being about 4-deep in people - the place was MOBBED. I heard every dialect on God's earth on the streets - and in particular in the generic High Street... they were all there Next, WH Smith, Odeon, Pret A Manger, HMV, Caffe Nero, Sports Direct... all rather dreary.
Now Constant Reader, you really don't believe I went all that way just to look at shopfronts? Not then there is THE HARDER THEY COME playing at the Oxford Playhouse.
Yes it was time for my 7th visit to Ivan's ni-night and boy, were they a provincial, small matinee audience! Lines which have always met with BIG audience responses at best get smiles. All very discouraging but the cast still put their all into it and it was great to see Chris Tummings, Victor Romero Evans, Derek Elroy, Joy Mack, Marlon King and Jacqui Dubois for possibly the last time.
Anyways normal service was resumed at the end with the stalls up and hollering for more!
All in all, a very nice day out.