Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Earth doth move

Apparently there was an earthquake last night. Buildings in Oxford were wibbling and wobbling, and inferiority complexes soared at the thought of neighbours having amazing sex that shook the beds of the whole street.

This is all very exciting. I managed to sleep through it, of course. Just when I've got my body clock on vaguely normal settings, something really dramatic goes and happens at a time when I used to be up. It did give me some really good dreams though, about Oxford collapsing.

Well, good in an adventurous sense, not in a wanting-it-to-happen sense. Imagine it though: some living metaphor about history crumbling around us, Oxford Castle crashing down, the bells of college chapels resonating throughout the town as they smash onto the cobbled ground. That would certainly give the tourists something different to goggle at.

Then again, maybe it could be a force for the good - history's aesthetic rebellion, as it were. The building work currently covering up the Taylorian would be swept away in one tremble, the plastic glory of the Westgate Centre smashed to smithereens amongst remnants of Primark pashminas. Even better, perhaps some chasms would open up, trapping fustery academics on a lava-surrounded island of Ann Summers, suave businessmen in G&Ds and delighted grannies in the weightlifting gym.

Oh the possibilities. If only they weren't just in my dreams...

Journalistic Hijinx

I just came across a rather funky site where you can make magazine covers of yourself:

It's a pretty simple concept: upload a photo and it becomes the background of a magzine cover template. Still, it's quite fun seeing yourself sprawled all over the front of Time magazine or National Geographic. Oxford's got enough magazine shops and unusual magazines for these not to look out of place. I can see them now, proudly displayed in Smiths or being flogged to unwary tourists outside the RadCam who recognise the inner celebrity in you.

Speaking of journalistic productions, I noticed that the Daily Mail headline generator ( is currently offline. I wonder if they've got in trouble with the media tycoons. Still, it was a simple enough concept - I imagine a similar effect could be created with fridge magnets...

Embracing Apathy

It's reached that time of the year where I've given up my New Year's Resolutions for Lent, the days are getting long enough for me run out of excuses not to go jogging, and the spending money part of preparing for summer holidays is upon me.

Perhaps that's why work is suddenly so attractive at the moment. I would love to go out and enjoy the sunshine, but isn't it just still a little too cold? It would be great to leap on some trains spontaneously to go and visit friends I've not seen for a while, but couldn't they come to me?

I'm having a day of embracing apathy. I'll get the unavoidable work of the week done, will do my chores and all the things I normally dread. And then, tomorrow, or maybe next week, I can emerge from my cocoon into the spring sunshine and enjoy the decisions that freedom brings.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why oh why...

Why oh why are there so few bike racks in Oxford?

Not only do cyclists have to contend with taxis parked in cycle lanes, those Oxford Tube monsters thundering past and pedestrians walking out right in front of us (yes, hello, I'm actually quite fast you know and it's going to hurt me a lot less to hit you than to fall off trying to avoid you), but when we get to our destination there's nowhere to park!

How many people do you know who ride a bike in Oxford?
And how many have had a bike stolen? (Or, if they have a particularly awful bike, like some of my friends, maybe they've had their lights/lock/helmet stolen)

So many shops have no bike signs outside. This is fair enough, but some take it a little too far, like the Angel and Greyhound where an angry man leapt out to yell at me for leaning against the railing holding my bike while my friend popped into Subway. It defeats the point of cycling if you then spend 10 minutes trying to find somewhere to lock up your bike.

That said, it's quite entertaining seeing the gravity-defying bikes halfway up the railings outside Sainsbury's on Magdalen Street, and I can't help but snigger at the sight of the dominoes effect outside Exam Schools on the Hight Street when some hapless student tries to extract their bike from the back of the pile. It happens to the best of us.

So Oxford council: If you're listening, please put up some more locks! We're lazy at heart and we deserve a break if we can survive the death traps of central Oxford bike lanes.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Shopping shennanigans

I hate shopping when I need to buy something. I know that sounds daft, but isn't it just so annoying when there's one particular thing you really need? It's guaranteed not to turn up anywhere you look.

Today I went on a shopping mission:
- duck tape, to fix a hole in a waterproof coat
- batteries for my bike light
- a screwdriver to open said bike light
- a frying pan

Now I know you can get most of these things in supermarkets nowadays, but I resent the idea of paying to get a bus to a supermarket when they're really simple everyday items.

I'm off the old-fashioned opinion that there should be specific shops for specific things - butcher, baker, candlestick-maker - you get the idea. That said, these things just don't exist where you need them. Rather hypocritically, I also find it incredibly convenient to have a variety of things in a shop. I know I could go to Walton Street Cycles for a bike light, but I'm not so sure they stock batteries or screwdrivers.

Back home I would go to Woolies for things like batteries, Homebase for a screwdriver, the cooking shop for a frying pan. But, shock, horror, central Oxford has no Woolworths! There are rumours of one lurking in Cowley, but I was left puzzling over just where I could go.

Luckily Boswells stepped in. I always thought it was quite expensive in there, but it was really cheap: a non-stick frying pan reduced from £20 to £7.50, eight AAA batteries for £3 and a screwdriver for 75p. All under one roof. Hurray! It might not have the colourful plastic toys and Pick'n'Mix of Woolies, but it was fun looking at the kitchen gadgets (table-top hoovers with faces on anyone?), the women there were very friendly and I felt quite posh walking amongst £100+ toasters.

So that's it. My useful shop out of the way. Now I can concentrate on not looking for anything in particular. I think I might pop back in and look at their fluffy cushions...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Thespian Thoughts

I'd forgotten how much I like going to the theatre. I went to see Stomp the other night. After 5 minutes of watching men in grubby vests sweeping the floor in various rhythms, I decided I could do better myself and resigned myself to a night of listening to the tweenagers behind me yelling 'oh my gawwwd he's well fit' every time the muscliest of the men brandished his broom in our direction.

Ten minutes later, I was hooked. Who would have thought that such fun could be had with dustbin lids, toilet plungers and kitchen sinks? I really must learn how to do those funky backwards flips in the air. I've always wanted to do a Bjork-style run up to a wall followed by a flip. Undeniably cool.

The New Theatre itself was very laid back but suitably grand inside to give a proper theatre feeling. Bizarrely, they had binoculaurs halfway down the stalls. Perhaps they sometimes have a flea circus there, or maybe it's for Puppetry of the Penis...

Anyway, it's reinstilled my unhealthy enthusiasm for the theatre. There's an intriguingly named 'Complete Works of Shakespeare' coming up, which describes itself as a comedy version of all his plays in 97 minutes: See you there!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Loved up in the city of dreaming spires?

Sorry for my lack of waffling - it's been a crazily busy week in Flick-land. Still, having blitzed my room and discovered that it does actually have a carpet, finished my work and replied to all my texts and facebook messages, I felt sufficiently inclined towards procrastination to realise that Valentine's Day is shortly upon us.

I'm sure there's enough schmultzy sweetness out there in the commercial world to give you diabetes on the spot, so all I'll mention on the matter is that I find it can be better to forget the guilt-induced present-buying, the frantic squeezing into restaurants and the overpriced cards, and to just go for a walk or have a snuggle indoors. Much more intimate. That said, if Mr Flick forgets the day itself, words shall be had!

For those of you who quite frankly couldn't give a flying haddock about Valentine's Day, here's a fun website to brighten up your day:

I just can't get enough of these funky invention websites!

The Big Bang on Walton Street is running an anti-Valentines Day meal on Wednesday where all cupid-haters can get good deals on bangers and mash. An ironic way to rebel against commercialism, perhaps, but you can't argue with a stonkingly good sausage and gravy.

Have a great day however you spend it. I'm off to the theatre - report to follow!