I woke up feeling older. Of course, perhaps that’s just my brain because today was my birthday. It was time for a visit to the glorious land of higher learning that is Oxford. I really love Oxford. I think there’s something really wonderful about it. Most of the Underground lines are having closures this weekend, so I had to figure out alternate lines to take to get me to Paddington Station. While waiting for the lift at Earl’s Court, I was approached by a Chinese woman who asked me if the Piccadilly line was the one to take to get her to the Bakerloo line. I agreed and she said she was going to Oxford. So, I told her she could follow me. She was grateful and stuck with me all the way til we got to the train station. We chatted about our respective visits to the UK and I told her about how my plans to move have been shorted.
At the rail station, I lost her as she ran off to try to get help obtaining her rail ticket. So, I boarded the train and had a nice hour long trip.
Arriving in Oxford, I had a wee and wandered round, cutting through Christ Church College Garden Meadow and taking a snap of Christ Church College and noting that directly across the way is a field with oxen. I started waving at the oxen, all of whom were busy having an early lunch of grass and more grass. One approached the fence and when I reached to pet his head, he jerked away and gave me a look like ‘Homey don’t play that!’ and then kept on walking and grazing. Fine. Be a bull, then!
Did some shopping and (again) talked myself out of buying a Magdalen College scarf. Of course, I also talked myself out of buying £85 Doc Martens, £60 Converse Union Flag hi-tops, £90 handbag with retro London imagery on it, and £100 cricket jumper. I’ve been a good shopper!
I headed to the Covered Market on High Street. I like this place. It’s got lots of neat shops, and good food. I went into one shop looking for some hairclips for a friend, and spent a good portion of 10 minutes listening to a lady customer argue with the shop owner over getting a refund for a bag she bought that fell apart. She started getting really cross near the end, as the shop owner did NOT want to refund this poor woman’s money. There was a bit of a language barrier as the shop owner was most definitely NOT British.
I then picked up a squeaky pig for my dog at home. I bought one for him last year. We named it Preston and he loved it so much he ended up destroying its’ ‘grunter’ (It has a grunter, not a squeaker inside).
After doing some browsing in other shops, it was time for lunch. My absolute favourite pie shop is in this market, so I had a delicious ‘Pietanic Fish Pie’ with mash and gravy. Lovely and filling, this! It makes me sad we have no pie shops in the States.
On my way out, I stopped in a bakery and purchased myself a ‘birthday cupcake’. Not bad, just so-so, of course I have a professional bias. I passed a butcher who had hanging in his open window, several grouse, quails, pheasants and hares, all recently killed. The hares still had their heads on, except wrapped in plastic (they were still bloody under the plastic) Apparently, many people found this sight photo-worthy, as I saw at least 6 people take pictures of it, including one man who not only had his picture taken standing with this display, but also snapped several shots of his own, all different angles. Who knows, maybe he’ll make art with the pics? Disgusting dead game art.
Which brings me to this related, yet un-trip related point/question. Why do Asian tourists take the most random photos of EVERYTHING??! I have seen so many Asians taking pictures of empty grass fields, of themselves smiling standing with their backs to mirrors, streets with lorries driving down them, some paper cups, anything?!
Oh, and there’s an Alice In Wonderland shop in Oxford. You should have seen the very same Asians go MAD over this place, all posing for photos in front of the door, and about 700 inside all oohing and ahhing over Alice things. O.K.
I visited the Pitt Rivers Museum, and Museum of Natural History. Such unique displays in Pitt Rivers. Everyone should give it a look.
I then cheaped out of a tour of the Bodleian Library. I feel horrible about doing so, but I’m on a budget, dammit!
Spent some time perusing at the Ashmolean before deciding to head back to London. When I got on the platform, I saw the Chinese lady from earlier. She was pleased to see me and we ended up chatting the whole way back. The conversation was tough as her English was only okay and we spent the whole time talking about why I can’t move to the UK and how I should consider moving to China instead!) Not noteworthy in itself, but someone else who was sharing our carriage, across the aisle from me was. I happened to see a man standing before the train actually left the station, he was looking down at his phone, and he happened to look up and when I saw his face, I leaned over and said to my companion ‘I know him!’ (Now, naturally I didn’t REALLY know him, I just recognised him) I told her he was an actor and asked if she’d seen anything he was in, she had no clue.
It was Tom Hollander! Yes, the very same Tom Hollander from Rev, Pride and Prejudice, Gosford Park and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. (I have always thought he was so cute!) I was pleased, and surprised to see him, if I’m honest. Nobody seemed to really notice him. That shocked me.
I did a very bad thing though. He sort of fell asleep on the train and I sort of snapped his photo. I mainly did it to PROVE he was really on the train! I’m not a nutter, honestly. (Plus, let’s face it, many men are cute sleepers!)
He got off at Paddington with his bicycle, and proceeded to walk/ride it out of the station.
My companion and I parted ways at Piccadilly Circus station, and she wished me luck.
I was off in search of my next destination: Paul Merton: Out of My Head at The Vaudeville Theatre. After a bit of a wander round Leicester Square area, scoping out some future candy purchases at Cyber Candy, I rolled into Wagamama for supper before the show.
Chicken. Katsu. Curry. Always delicious. There was a bit of a wait, but I was seated next to another lone female diner. I struck up a conversation with her and she was hugely pleasant. She said she loves the US and is headed there next week for holiday, to the Grand Canyon and San Franscisco. (God, at least it’s not Florida and Disney…the Brits love their Disney. Ugh.) I showed her my photo with Ian, as he came up in conversation because of Paul, naturally. She said ‘HIM?? You like him???’ I just cooed over him and said yes, 1000 times, yes. Her next words were ‘to each his own’. I laughed.
I left the restaurant and headed to the theatre, which was only a 5 minute walk away. They upgraded my seat! I thought the chap said I was now in A14, which was 3rd row from the stage. What birthday luck! Well, it was too good to last, as two ladies showed up and took the seats. I asked again, and they said O14. Oops. Still, it was a great seat.
The show began with Paul talking about HIGNFY. He talked a little about Ian, which was nice. He then launched into the show, which in my opinion was fun, but oddly laid out. It was Paul talking about his life in an autobiographical way, with small skits interspersed. All of it was fairly surreal, and I really did NOT need to see Richard Vranch’s naked arse AT ALL. EVER. EVER. Near the end of the interval, (which had an entire soundtrack of songs with ‘crazy’ as their central theme - cleverly done, as the show had just ended on Paul discussing his time in the psychiatric hospital), I realised I no longer had my stuff I bought in Oxford with me. I must have left it in Wagamama. So, I had a very difficult time concentrating when the show started up again, as I was worried about my bag. The first segment went on WAY too long and was based around an improv game which has an ‘expert’ and 3 people speaking one word each to form sentences. It was only moderately funny. The rest was on par with the other segments of the show. I noticed there were a lot of jokes I’d already heard him say on HIGNFY years ago. I suppose he assumed most people would forget. He also claims Roger Moore is going to host an episode this series.
When the show let out, I headed back to Wagamama. Thankfully, they found my bag! On that, I headed back to the flat, all in all having a reasonably fine birthday. I’d give it a 7 out of 10 for marks.
Tomorrow I’m training it down the coast to Portsmouth and then over to Brighton to see Jon Richardson do his stand up. Should be a sea-worthy day!