Yes, I’m getting blog titles out of Romanian Christmas crackers now.
That’s not true, I haven’t pulled a Christmas cracker* since retiring (in fact getting out of Xmas work lunches was the 3rd biggest incentive to retirement, as I recall).
Tuesday took me to the beautiful Travelodge at Oxford Pear Tree Park & Ride, where Mrs RM had already spent a miserable birthday on her own eating discounted Co-Op sandwiches.
So I was DES and took her to a couple of Oxford GBG outliers, on the basis that a dreg is as good as a tick.**
Our route avoided the entirety of historic Oxford, which would have been no fun in the traditional Christmas week drizzle.
On the short walk from the Bullingdon Club we passed a crowd of beardies queueing outside St John the Evangelist, occasional donnish gig venue. “Steve Hogarth” said the sign. Ah, the Beer Street/Gin Street man, I assume.
No picture of the outside of the Fir Tree, but plenty of quirky interest on several discrete levels inside. And look on that ledge !
Michaelamas term had ended, so the custom was from a pleasant mix of locals old and young, without the big Christmas groups you feared. Perhaps that’s because the short menu didn’t include Christmas-themed pizzas.
Pleasingly, just the one silly Christmas beer, too, the one I therefore bought Mrs RM. Other customers were getting very excited by the East Coast IPA. Greene King would have been thrilled.
If it was in Cambridge it would be the Alexandra, an unpretentious, cosy Greene King place with cheapish food and beer. I had the dregs of the Rosie, Mrs RM hinted at an NBSS 3.5 and I’m sure she’s right. The pizza was doughy and interesting too.
The banter was worthy of NBSS 4.75. I quote verbatim, having been on the chilled water.
“It’s a no-brainer. They’re both in the most excellent position”
“Trevor Horn is absolutely brilliant”
and the clincher, from a lady painting her baubles,
“I hate Fish“
Yes, we were in the midst off Marillion fans from all over the country, come to see their boy band’s lead singer on his solo tour.
They were great fun, much better than the usual Pub Amateurs you get at Christmas, and as they left to stand in the rain at St John at 6.57 were replaced by an even better species of pubber, the monied Oxbridge excitable. You’ll have to imagine the Oxford drawl.
“I have swallowed an entire quiche ‘cos I don’t like quiche.”
“She’s in a non-sexual Sugar Daddy situation“. Mrs RM was entranced.
The music was playing too low, but I made out Weller’s “Changing Man” and Suede’s “Trash“. A bit like Radio 6 Music, it’s always 1996 in Oxford.
A cracker, even if a cracker from a bygone age.
Time for the Butcher’s, beautifully tucked away near the Shark and the old Manor Ground.
Again, a really cheery mixed crowd, akin to the Five Bells off Mill Road in Cambridge.
I bought Mrs RM the one with the Christmas hat, which was oddly served out of the London Pride pump.
Pretty good too, though she left me only tiny dregs and seemed more interested in the toilet twinning.
I went off to see the Shark, forgetting it was nighttime.
Anyway, I think the shark has jumped the shark and we’re all onto houses emblazoned with signs retained from dead pubs now.
** I’m hoping if this blog survives the End of Times like in A.I. Artificial Inteeligence it will be incomprehensible to aliens.