College Insider: Christ Church

Our insider on rowdy bops and Barbour jacket syndrome

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Regular readers of this column will perhaps be narked to be told that ‘the’ Christ Church student–posh barely visible behind reams of waxed cotton, clad in drinking society ties and astride Daddy’s pony, with a warbling RP accent that can be heard a few streets away—is largely a myth. It’s a friendly place, with big year groups and a diverse bunch of people. Some of them suffer from Barbour jacket syndrome, but it doesn’t seem to be contagious.

That said, as in most of Oxford, privilege pervades, and it might be fair to say that the biggest problem most of us face in our daily lives is the frankly barbaric number of visitors that clog up the quads like tourist cholesterol, making it impossible to get anywhere without being stuck behind a group being told blatant untruths by their enterprising guide.

Did you know that Harry Potter lived here for a few years in the eighteenth century, and used to smash up the windows in Peck Quad after one too many pumpkin juices? No, me neither. Speaking of booze, College discipline apparatchiks are reportedly concerned about the pretty rambunctious bops we host, and their famed four-for-a-pound, triple-vodka-Redbull deals. A recent bop charity event involving contestants downing litres of cold blended Happy Meals left a sour taste for the cleaners the next morning and, more worryingly, threatened the effective duopoly of McCoy’s kebab van and Artisan Pizza on Christ Church’s fast food consumption.

That said, the strictest discipline in College is enforced not by the authorities but by Classics students, who run a pretty tight ship in their wing of the library, and have been known to enact death by Plutarch on uninitiated freshers who make scratching noises when they write. Heaven forbid that one accidentally takes the place of a senior classicist: they’ll have to endure an afternoon of Latinate whispering for which even Caecilius didn’t prepare them at school.

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Yet despite the House’s misgivings, we can draw strength and hubris from the words of Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of History and notable alumnus, who wrote: “The Christ Church manner, that assumption of effortless superiority, is said to be galling to those that weren’t at Christ Church. But we can’t expect the world to be run for the benefit of those who weren’t at Christ Church.” Jolly well said, Hugh.

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