Permanent Tourist

The personal website of Mark Howells-Mead

I didn’t go to Oxford

I attended a private grammar school in the 1980s and although I gained many things from my time there, an affinity for studying hard or for examinations wasn’t among them. I attended until I was eighteen and I put in a modicum of effort, although the only subjects at which I had any kind of ability were French, the parts of physics which dealt with light and electricity, and the programming part of computer studies. Although I have gone on to love writing, thanks mainly to filling a blog for over twenty years and being nudged by a few influences into improving my grammar, I didn’t study English at school beyond GCSE-level. Some of the things I learned at school have remained with me, and many haven’t.

I became aware, in the latter stages of my time at school, that some teachers thought I had the potential to do well in my exams, so I was generously included in a small group of other sixth-formers to spend a day poking around Oxford University. The premise being that if I were to pull my finger out and get good exam results, I may have a reasonable chance of applying to study there. My finger remained firmly un-pulled, though, and I later decided that post-school education wasn’t for me. I satisfied myself with the social side of student life when occasionally visiting friends at universities in Cardiff and East London.

I digress. The trip to Oxford turned out to be pretty memorable, with the minibus ride up from Hampshire highlighted by a friend surreptitiously lighting a cigarette whilst the driving teacher remained oblivious. (Smoking was strictly forbidden amongst students at my school: not that this rule held any of us back.) When we were in Oxford, we trailed around a couple of colleges — I have little to no recollection of them — before having lunch in The Great Hall of Christ Church College.

Later in the afternoon, we were given some spare time to look around the city and while I wandered the streets alone, the others disappeared. As it later turned out, they headed straight for one of the pubs — The White Horse, next to Blackwell’s bookshop on Broad Street — to test both the quality of the local beer and the bartender’s lax approach to under-age drinking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google’s reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.