Watch Out, Students!

Over here.

Apparently we Oxford residents are also shoving a lot of cocaine up our noses in the men’s toilets of the city’s pubs and bars, even when the students aren’t really around, though I’ve never noticed. But then I suppose you’d need quite strong drugs to cope with some of the places they visited.

19 thoughts on “Watch Out, Students!”

  1. I recognise only about half the names in that list, which, given that when I lived in Oxford, I visited every single pub in the city at least once, means that some dreadful fate must have overtaken some of them since I left…

  2. Some of them are big city centre drinkeries that appeared in the 1990s, concentrated on George Street, where students and academics (as far as I can tell) never go: O’Neills, the Cock and Camel, and so on (though I have been into Copa, and think they’ve got not a bad Belgian beer selection, though it’s usually too loud in there.)

    The slim sliver of hope for the future is that the Jericho Tavern went through an appalling series of permutations (with a distressingly long period as a stupid branded Firkin pub), but now it’s back as the Jericho Tavern, the only real problem being they don’t seem to know what bitter is. (But they generally have something drinkable.)

  3. I remember when they slung the live music out.

    I always thought it was pushing their luck renaming a place Jude The Obscure (previously one of Oxford’s five Princes of Wales) to appeal to the student trade when the whole point about Jude is that he can’t get into Christminster. Indeed I recall having a letter in the Oxford Mail on the subject.

    The great Cowley Road Pub Massacre was in full swing when I left (1999) and Jericho wasn’t looking good.

    There’s a great old pamphlet from the seventies, I think, trying to list all the pubs that had been in Oxford ever. I mean places from Elizabethan times and all.

  4. This is only a shocking statistic if one has already accepted the assumption that taking drugs is morally condemnable.

    And that’s a legal positivism the prevalance of which i find intruiging, because it’s a testament as to how fantastically easy it is to get people to hold utterly incoherent views.

    For example, let’s compare beer and cocaine. Both, if taken in moderation, have no detrimental long-term effects on the individual user. In fact, both are quite pleasant. If used in excess, aggressive and violent behaviour is apt to follow (not to mention unpleasant and messy sexual mistakes). If taken to extremes, life-destroying addiction can occur.

    And both carry massively detrimental effects beyond the individual user; sure, the international cocaine trade results in a lot of dead South Americans, but the damage of alcohol-abuse to the NHS, the economy (lost productivity), families, relationships etc etc is not incomparable.

    Yet if you ask most people, they’ll tell you cocaine is bad but alcohol isn’t. Because one is legally available (and taxed) and the other isnt.

  5. Yet if you ask most people, they’ll tell you cocaine is bad but alcohol isn’t.

    Will they? I’d reckon that most people (adults, at least) have, or have had, friends or relatives with severe alcohol-related problems. The dangers of booze aren’t something people are ignorant about. If you just mean “think cocaine should remain illegal but alcohol should remain legal”, well, that’s a different debate, and I don’t know much about public opinion on that score. But thinking things should be legal or illegal doesn’t neatly map onto the the question of whether you think they are bad (for you?) or not.

    On the whole I’m against cocaine because it seems to make people even more boring than they were before using the drug, and that, combined with issues about drug-related violence, suggest that a life lived without it is a life better lived. But I suppose I think it should still be legalised, because it’s more important to get rid of the drug-related violent crime than it is to get rid of the boring people. I don’t know whether that means my views are utterly incoherent. Probably.

  6. There’s a great old pamphlet from the seventies, I think, trying to list all the pubs that had been in Oxford ever. I mean places from Elizabethan times and all.

    Can you remember anything that might help me chase it down in a library catalogue? That sounds great.

    One of the sad things about Jericho is the steady loss of the pubs there. There used to be over a dozen (I think), and now we’re down to three in Jericho proper: the Harcourt Arms, the Radcliffe Arms and the Bookbinders.

  7. There used to be something like twenty – there was an exhibition in the Central Library about it once. But three? Christ, that’s grim. I can remember pub-crawling round at least seven (though to be fair I was probably including a couple in Walton Street). The Globe was one, I think.

    I’ll ask about that pamphlet. If I can’t help I’d imagine CAMRA could.

  8. The Globe is the most recent one to go. That pub is literally over the road from me, and the builders are working on it now to turn it into luxury flats, or something, cheered on – weirdly enough – by the Green Party.

  9. Sort of. The Councillors blocked the application of the owners of the Globe to get it converted into flats, but it was overturned on appeal to the (national?) planning authorities. The City’s view was that the building was designated as a pub, and that it shouldn’t be turned into anything else unless it had been shown that it wasn’t viable any more as a pub (or something like that, anyway).

  10. Yeah, people hated drinking in Jericho. No pub there could be viable.

    Hard to believe the Bookbinders’ can last much longer if them’s the rules. Does it still have its working-class clientele and its meat draw?

    Used to be a marvellous place to drink Morrell’s Mild (as was the smaller of Tackley’s two pubs, forget the name).

  11. The Bookbinders is a Greene King pub, which means the beer is good. I’m not there very often, but when I am, I haven’t noticed a particularly working-class clientele, but then Jericho is much less of a working-class area than it used to be: there’s a bit of council housing (e.g. Whitworth Place) and still quite a few older people who’ve lived there all their lives, and my sense (which may be wrong) is that fewer of the properties are let to students than used to be the case. The terraces of Jericho are increasingly filling up with, well, people like me — academic or other professional couples with possibly one or two small children in tow; and it’s quite common for those families to leave the area when the children become bigger (and the house correspondingly feels smaller).

    I’ve never heard that the Bookbinder’s is under threat. I was a bit annoyed last year when the Council made them take away the tables outside on Canal Street, in order to make the pavement accessible for people in wheelchairs, as it seemed to me that Canal Street isn’t the most dangerous stretch of road, and I was sceptical that the tables in the street caused that much of an obstruction. But I didn’t mutter “political correctness gone mad” much, if at all, and perhaps the disability people had a point.

    Oh, and final thing: the Bookbinder’s has been through various internal transformations since your time (1980s?). It’s immortalised in the very first episode of Inspector Morse, of course, but it looks nothing like that inside nowadays.

  12. It was basically a backstreet boozer, and a very good one, when I was there (and I didn’t leave until 1999). There were also a few along the Abingdon Road. I don’t know how they’re getting on.

    I’ve not heard of any specific threat to the Bookbinders’ but you can imagine how much it’d fetch as canalside apartments.

  13. “The dangers of booze aren’t something people are ignorant about. If you just mean “think cocaine should remain illegal but alcohol should remain legal”, well, that’s a different debate, and I don’t know much about public opinion on that score.”

    That’s the debate i’m interested in. And my perspective as to public opinion on this point is *very much* that.

    Indeed, that people are not ignorant to the dangers or alcohol makes it even more intruiging for me that the majority of people I have spoken to about this over the years continue to think cocaine (et al) should remain illegal but alcohol remain legal. (Seriously, tha majority of my peers back home, including those who use drugs frequently, and especially their parents, will certainly say that drugs should remain illegal, but not alcohol. In fact, saying drugs should be legalised is one of the most controversial things i find i can say back home, short perhaps of making jokes about Princess Di or Maddy McCann).

    Indeed, your point that “thinking things should be legal or illegal doesn’t neatly map onto the the question of whether you think they are bad (for you?) or not” is kind of what i’m getting at. Attitudes towards legality diverge enormously from those regarding what is good. Explaining why is what interests me.

    And i don’t think your views are incoherent. On the one hand, the world would be best if nobody used that kind of drug. But that world is impossible to bring about. So as a second-best, we plumb for the world where the effects are most mitigated and best dealt with. Hence we plumb for legalisation. What’s incoherent about that? (Indeed, that’s rather weirdly the exact same conclusion i came to 30 minutes ago when thinking about Mill and gambling houses. Must be fate).

  14. I haven’t had a reply about the pamphlet. I’ve tried doing a keyword search for pubs oxford on the (rather clumsy, in this professional librarian’s opinion) library catalogue and it might be the first one, “Oxford pubs past and present” by Marriott (1978). It says hardback though, which it isn’t. Also the fact that the seventh item shown is called “Johnny Depp” drains my confidence a little. Still, if you give it a go the Dewey references might be helpful in finding the place to look.

  15. I have a reply!

    My friend reckons it is Marriott’s book and adds:

    “More recently Derek Honey wrote ‘An Encyclopaedia of Oxford Pubs, Inns and Taverns’ which is largely based on Marriot’s book.”

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