An ode to Oxford tourists

Celebrating one of Oxford’s most subjugated groups.

We all know the drill – staggering across Peck quad in your pyjamas to brunch only to be papped by a snooping tourist with a giant camera.

In your hungover state you’re unsure whether the picture is of you or the quad itself, but you don’t care – their actions are annoying and an invasion of your personal space. How dare they, how very dare they.

The tourist in Oxford is a much maligned figure. An easy target for the student body to vent their pent up frustration and 5th week angst at, but is this reasonable? Does anyone ever defend the poor Oxford tourist?

It’s well known [I think] that the Oxford Tube wouldn’t be able to run on a profit if it weren’t for the regular traffic of curious people wanting to experience the dreaming spires for themselves. Equally [I’m less sure] most businesses would go into administration during the long vac if they couldn’t fall back on selling postcards and Oxford branded snapbacks.

This guy was selling buckets at the full moon to save for an Oxford hoodie, and good for him!

The economic benefits of the tourist also extends to Oxford’s vibrant busking scene – arguably one of the most professional of any provincial town. The tourists, like them or not, keep our great city alive.

There’s also a degree of hypocrisy that comes with anyone who claims tolerance and then goes and marginalises a whole group according to their outsider status and invasive nature. This is especially true if the same critics then hop on a train come July and trot all over six or seven european capitals and a few developing countries’ rainforests when they get the first chance to flee the nest.

“But it’s different when I went their country because i was a traveller”… Fuck off.

Let’s not pretend it’s too much skin off your nose to pose in a few snaps with some Italians after matriculation – you’re probably boozed anyway so it’s jokes. If anything it’ll provide you with some respite from trying to drink yourself into oblivion and could mean you actually make it to whatever sloppy club your Freshrz Repz have told you is ‘The Place To Be’.

There’s even a certain fashion pizzazz that the tourist (especially the Oxford kind) brings to the table. Be it front loading their backpack, the flag they use to keep the herd together, or their latest model of SLR, they inject a needed variety that is lost on the Industry magazine and the OFW patrons. Tourists are fetch.

A small group of asian tourists obscured by a family returning from a birthday party

On the philosophical level there is also a universal balance that is restored by the presence of a few inconspicuous South European and Korean touristicos, a yin-yang if you like.

Imagine if Oxford were only populated by locals and students, if all you saw outside the Radcam were people waiting around trying to ignore the impending necessity of starting their tute sheets and all you saw on Broad street circa midnight were miserable kebab carrying morons returning from Park End (/the occasional spooky march of the sticks).

No – I propose the tourist brings much needed variety to the Oxford spectrum. A change from the students in oversized jumpers, a shift from the teems of shopping old people who populate cornmarket between the hours of 9 and 5 each day, a diversion from the locals sick to fucking death of the student body – relegated to tourists in their own town.

Religious stick march – 29th May 2014

So as the weather becomes steadily more dank and the confused seasons keep us perpetually drenched, I’ll be thinking of the shrinking population of holiday goers around and about town and will lament the lack of awkwardly smiling faces peering through college lodges at the Oxonians stumbling across quads to try and cure their impending hangovers.