But tourists aren’t always the aggressors – in fact they’re the victims, being conned out of their money by unscrupulous tour guides willing to tell outrageous lies about our fair uni. Here are VERSA’s top ten lies told to Oxford tourists:
“And as we all know, white carnations are for lectures, pink for seminars and red for tutorials.” Photo: Mike Knell
1) “Students have to wear sub fusc to every lecture”
A classic lie to start us off, this one is blatantly untrue. As anyone who’s ever been to a compulsory 9AM will tell you, the uniform is either 1) whatever you wore out last night, or 2) the mishmash of garms that in your half-asleep state that morning thought, mistakenly, would be socially acceptable.
2) “Martyr’s Memorial is the spire of England’s only underground cathedral”
This porkie has undone many a tourist and many an unsuspecting fresher too, who in their endeavours to find the steps down into the cathedral have ended up knee-deep in the filthy Magdalen Street public toilets.
“Find me at X05.G04907 (Box B000000134056)”
3) “The Radcliffe Camera is named after Daniel Radcliffe”
Probably made up by a tour guide who was bored stiff after going around Radcliffe Square for the twentieth time that day, it’s stuck and been overheard by several students. How anyone can believe this is beyond me, though to be fair the RadCam has probably inspired several drink and drug problems comparable to old Danny’s.
4) “Christ Church gardens were won by their Dean in a drunken poker game”
Sadly untrue, though its nice to think that the senior members of colleges are just as intent on gambling and drinking their lives away as many students are. In 50 years time they’ll probably be telling a story about how they were lost in a game of odds-on at a crewdate, though it doesn’t have quite the same class as poker.
5) “Merton has a Michelin star”
A virulent rumour that has been around for years is that an old member of the college gave money only on the condition that the chef at Merton had to be Michelin-starred and French. Perhaps it was true once, but now it remains just as much a distant dream as the top of the Norrington table for those poor Mertonians.
Fake it till you make it
6) “Regent’s Park is one of Oxford’s smallest colleges”
It might be called Regent’s Park College, and it might look like a college, and the people there might claim until their dying breath that its a college. But its technically a PPH, with its right to grant degrees not imparted by the Crown like at proper colleges. So there.
7)“All Souls doesn’t have anyone studying there”
Another technical falsehood, as it gives away up to 2 fellowships a year (mega-generous) after the notoriously difficult entrance exam. That said, I’ve never met a student from there nor even seen anyone go in or out. What the students of All Souls do with their lives is a mystery which shall never be solved.
8) “This place was a crime scene in Morse/Lewis/Endeavour”
To be fair, about half of Oxford seems to have been a crime scene in Morse at some point, but tour guides do sometimes lie about this to make a particular place seem more special. Being in such a TV-friendly city does have its odd side-effects, but you get used to waking up to discover that your favourite café has been turned into a taxidermist for filming purposes.
9) *Pointing to the Oxford Union* “This is the Oxford University Student Union”
A common mistake for those unacquainted with the Union debating society, or those who went to universities where the student union actually did anything. The difference is simple – one is a dodgy establishment that takes its members for granted, has ridiculous internal politics, and acts as a magnet for power-hungry student politicians, and the other… no wait, my mistake, both are.
The “Corpus Christi” hoax went as far as to be recognised by the College of Arms
10) “Corpus Christi is just an extension of Christ Church”
WE ARE NOT JUST AN EXTENSION OF CHRIST CHURCH – WE’RE A REAL COLLEGE IN OUR OWN RIGHT SO JUST FUCK OFF. Kudos though to the tourist who asked me outside whether it was actually Corpus, and then said in a surprised tone that he’d assumed we were just more Merton.