Following Tatler’s guide to Oxford is a sure-fire way to ruin your Michaelmas

If you wanna succeed in the city of dreaming spires, ignore their advice

You’re at Oxford, so you probably grew up reading Tatler. To the rest of us mere mortals, Tatler is a publication for posh people.

If you missed last month’s edition – here’s a rundown of what they got wrong about us.

How to get in

What Tatler said: Apply to a newer, far-flung college like St Anne’s.

What we say: If you think you can cheat the system, you’re entitled and wrong. Of course, if you apply to a highly popular college like Magdalen or Worcester, you are less likely to end up there. But if you’re “good enough” for Oxford, you’ll be interviewed elsewhere anyway. Geography and Biology also have a reputation for having low standards, as do obscure languages such as Czech or Portuguese, which are often seen as a back-door in.

Top subject

What Tatler said: English. Its undergrads are easily the coolest and take themselves very seriously, as they should do, being super-duper bright.

What we say: Physicists or PPEists aren’t super-bright? Who is writing this. More to the point, the English lot take themselves too seriously. Third year Becky Jenkins remembers, “I saw an English student reading poetry to his girlfriend under a tree on the Cherwell river bank. It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in Oxford.”

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Doss subject

What Tatler said: Don’t be silly, this is Oxford.

What we say: Sort of. Historian Matt Rose says “I’d say with History, Geography and History of Art it is, relatively, a doss, but you’re still always jel of your mate at Durham who has one essay a term and will work less before getting a first and a better job”. Yeah, basically.

Where you want to live

What Tatler said: Anywhere nice and old, and with a chapel: New College, Christ Church (unofficial black tie) or Brasenose.

What we say: Yeah, we guess. Ex-Christ-Churchian Chris Noon agrees, “In my third year I had an oak panelled room with a mahogany table that sat ten people and five windows. I got about 150 people in there at once.” Having said this, if you don’t want tens of tourists trotting around after you, or to be “hacked to high heaven in most Union Elections”, seek refuge elsewhere.

Where you don’t

What Tatler said: Merton. Just stay away – weirdness.

What we say: Slightly unfair? Yes, Merton may have a rep for being “workaholics”, but their website stipulates they have a Nintendo Wii in the JCR. Where you actually don’t want to live is at St Hugh’s or LMH. While maybe only a 20 minute walk into town (which is arduous enough), it’s a sure 40 minute trek to Iffley.

If you're at Merton, you could end up living in sweet little Holywell

If you’re at Merton, you could end up living in sweet little Holywell

Where to drink

What Tatler said: College bars.

What we say: Yeah, probably. Prices are almost all subsidised and you can get into nearly any of them if you’re a student. Balliol, St Peter’s and St Hilda’s are among the best. If you’d like to break with tradition, Cowley, or essentially any pub, is the answer. Avoid Spoons like the plague. They hate us. Oh, and The Turf in the afternoon is a nightmare.

Best night out 

What Tatler said: Bridge Thursdays at The Bridge. The Buller (Bullingdon Club) lot hang out in the VIP room (bit cringe), while everyone else chills on the smoking terrace or dances around Old Man Bridge, an OAP who pops up there every week – an enigmatic legend.

What we say: There is nothing enigmatic about Old Man Bridge. More to the point, he’s banned. You’re more likely to find him lurking around at Rumble at Lola Lo’s on Tuesday. Don’t disregard Mondays at Bridge. The new SE10 at Cellar is also rumoured to be “on some next hype”.


What Tatler said: Will Hislop, Barney Fishwick, Clare Pleydell-Bouverie.

What we say: A comedian with a famous dad, his mate, and the daughter of an earl somewhere? We actually know these people, all of whom were bigger BNOCs as they did their A-levels than the three above.

Celeb Alumni

What Tatler said: Emma Watson, Nigella Lawson, Felicity Jones.

What we say: Yes.

Look at 'em go

Look at ’em go

Don’t miss 

What Tatler said: The Commemoration Ball.

What we say: Yes, if you have £300 lying around. If you like dowsing yourself in champagne, but your Student Loan was a bit paltry this year, you can still take part at other college balls for less than £80. If, like the rest of us, you still can’t afford this, do not miss: olde-worlde pubs like the King’s Arms or The Eagle & Child, May Day morning, and summer punting with a punnet of strawberries because we’re all so bloody English.

Top Tip

What Tatler said: You’ll soon discover that the Union is full of power-mad David Cameron wannabes. They may come to rule us one day, but until then, they’re best avoided.

What we say: Do that.