I was shouted at by a barman in Chequers

Matriculation was lols


For fans of subfusc and smugness, madtriculation is an opportunity to quote Keats over cava to your heart’s content.

Or in our case, to be told we’re “already paying £9000 a year to learn how to be a cunt” by a barman at Chequers – but more of that later.

Choosing the road almost equally well-travelled, I found nine people prepared to spend the day with me to visit the ten pubs within walking distance of my college.

What followed was an epic journey of self-discovery – the discovery being that I have no shame in asking ten different barmen the price of the cheapest non-lager beer on tap.

They’re off


Competing with the Turf Tavern for the title of Oxford’s oldest and smallest pub, the cry of indignation at the cheek to charge £4.20 for a pint of Heineken is our group’s only complaint. I am unable to fit into the bar area, which forces the group to decamp to the outdoor marquee.

Group verdict: a bit too Three Broomsticks for its own good.


With a pint adding to the Tesco Prosecco, most of the boys begin to polish their wittiest chat-up lines; I am again reminded that a pint of Guiness contains about 1000 calories by another scientist.

The pub is a little too indie for its own good – I negotiate my way out of an inter-rail vs gap year debate and it’s time to move on.

Group verdict: like the Cavern Club, but with deals for Jägerbombs.

Way too trendy for the matricula$h crowd


Chequers has entertaining furniture, is big enough and has a pretty good beer selection, if a little expensive. All that being said, its reputation should be based on its sassy bar staff: one of us is asked for his ID, prompting another fresher to ask if someone would really shell out for sub-fusc to pretend to be a student.

The barman tells him he is ‘already paying £9000 a year to learn how to be a cunt’, and with that we take our cue to leave.

Group verdict: a mix between the Queen Vic and the bar at the Randolph.

‘Paying £9000 a year to learn how to be a cunt’


It takes an age to get down Cornmarket Street due largely to the allure of Macdonalds/Itsu depending on how pretentious people are trying to be.

Most of those now on their third pints decide to start whining about their exes. The pub itself is good. The barman describes student drinkers as ‘quite annoying’ as he pulls me a pint of the cheapest bitter.

Group verdict: a happy medium between a college buttery and the Wheatsheaf

pretentious wanker


Also very small and old, but in a good way. Those who are still ploughing on with a pint a pub start scavenging for food at empty tables. The food is pretty good. Cold and half-eaten but good. The bar staff raise eyebrows, so we go.

Group verdict: low ceilings = classy. We approve.

The struggle is real


Very deserving of its stellar reputation, the Bird and the Baby is big enough for the tidal wave of freshers that has hit it by the time we arrive.

People are starting to tell each other how great it is that they are ‘already such good mates’, which is at least better than the gap yah chat from before.

Group verdict: basically the Leaky Cauldron. 10/10.

4 down, 6 to go


To get here from the Eagle and Child involves an extended game of chicken with St Giles traffic.

Arriving safely, those of us who have been before remember that they don’t accept card; this is not a problem because one of us declares that he has ‘beaucoup de cash’.

MatricuLAD of the crawl anyone?

Group verdict: alright if it’s busy across the road.

Freshers still havent learnt the perils of playing with traffic


We are on the home straight at this point, but people are flagging, and the proportion of vodka-cokes is at its highest here. The stop is livened by one of our group discovering pennying. This at least helps us to make up lost time.

Group verdict: a smaller King’s Arms with nicer tables.

For just £1 / day, you could help this poor boy


This pub does not really pitch itself at the student crowd, and I think a few people are genuinely surprised to see us in there. Details beyond this are scarce. Most have slipped away, but the end is in sight. We stumble towards the finish line…

Group verdict: see above.


At this point, distinguishing features aren’t particularly relevant.

Only one has managed to complete a full ten pints, but at this point a pint of weak squash would have been pretty impressive. The challenge is completed, and we head back to college.

Group verdict: ask again later.


So there we have it. Matriculash. Matriculols. The matriculegends pose for a final selfie and attempt to look sober in front of the porters as we head to dinner.

The prospect of Roppongi beckons (#YOMO).