More merch, more purch

I am such a sucker for branded stuff. At 13 I was enamoured with Emily the Strange (my Whimsical Emo stage), at 19 I couldn’t get enough of Marc by Marc Jacobs (mouse shoes, ’nuff said). At 23, it’s still MBMJ (hey, who can go past the cheery colour palette and winsome typeface?) but I’m also counting my pennies for Oxford clothing and tchotchkes.

Since I got my Magdalen hoody and rowing jacket, I been craving more merch. I’m like the Very Hungry Caterpillar* of pretentious varsity clothing; except rather than eating cakes, pupating and blossoming into a beautiful butterfly, I’m just going to become an impoverished but well-swaddled human.

Here are my picks from the Uni shop:


Oxford Tombag £95

Such an insouciant day-tripping bag. I’d stuff it with beach towel and trashy mags for a Brighton trip, cardi and guidebook for a castle jaunt, or use it for sports gear. As per the specifications, you could also carry exactly 11L of milk, juice or liquid of choice.

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That Oxford Moment when a guy strides past you in a trench coat, and doffs his tweed driving cap to you. The guy is not 60, and he’s not in the cast of Downton Abbey. In fact, he is 2 years your junior, and is just going up the street for a panini.

That Rowing Smugness #boatgloat

I’m officially a ‘Rower’ y’all! I have done exactly 1 water session, but bought all the merch so there’s no turning back. From what I hear, it’s a small step from wide-eyed, skittery novice excitement to smug-faced insufferability. Be prepared for me to wax lyrical about erg times, ‘casually’ mention my 5.30am starts in a holier-than-thou martyr voice, and just become Better at Life (I might even become a double threat and launch a social-networking lawsuit/start hoarding the world’s digital money).

But for now, I’ll just get excited about my splash jacket. Cute, right??


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If I share food with you, it means we’re friends


This twinkly-eyed Prof has his own Wikipedia page – you know he’s legit!

So on the weekend I went to a college lecture by Prof Robin Dunbar, an experimental psychologist and bona fide intellectual bigwig, on Why Facebook Won’t Get You Any More Friends. Prof Dunbar has a number named after him (the Dunbar Number of 150) which, let’s be honest, is not as cool as having an eponymous meringue dessert (good work Ms Pavlova), but is a sight cooler than giving your name to a Grill (sorry George Foreman). I was super excited to see him, having just read this New Yorker article.

Prof Dunbar’s work (which draws on observations of apes, feral goats and Christmas card-sending humans) focuses on understanding the constraints on social group size. Basically, it comes down to bigger brain = bigger social group size. Prof Dunbar suggests that (based on the size of their neocortex), humans can handle about 150 meaningful relationships. This gets broken down into a series of layers (his theories having a lot more nuances and qualifications than my neocortex is going to let me go into here):

  • 150 – about the number of people you’d invite to a large party (casual friends)
  • 50 – the number you’d invite to a large dinner (close friends)
  • 15 – the number of friends you can confide in about most things (good friends)
  • 5 – your best friends

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Introducing a new segment: That Oxford Moment

Living in Oxford puts me in a constant state of amusement and bemusement. My face spends much of the day screwed up in a “What the?!” expression, or a rueful, “Only in Oxford…” So I thought I’d start sharing some of these with you, in quick-and-easy microwaveable bites.


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Bean boot bungle

When I ordered my L.L. Bean boots, I was slightly miffed at the “…fries with that?” checkout suggestion of a pair of men’s boots. ‘I don’t need a man!’ I thought (cue PCD power ballad), ‘and if I did have one, I probably wouldn’t want him wearing the same shoes as me.’


When I excitedly opened my Bean parcel this week, I couldn’t help but feel that they’d taken their anti-single stance a bit too far. What did I find, nestled like tumbled leather bunnies amidst the tissue paper? Not my highly-anticipated snow-mucking booties, but a pair of men’s penny loafers.

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Halloween costumes for the pun-lover

Tupacman…Woodchuck Bass…Miss Piggy Azalea…

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Halloween in Australia is pretty much a non-event. As a youngster, inspired by American movies and hopes of candy-comas, you might venture out to trick-or-treat. It’ll be total tumbleweed town though; the few kids you see will be wearing the exact same raggedy witch costume as you (the only one that Woolies stocks), and neighbours are more likely to switch off their lights and cower behind the couch than open the door to you. Those that do either (a) assume that Jehovah’s Witnesses have changed their marketing strategy (b) launch into a tirade about door-to-door Encyclopaedia sales being illegal after 6pm or (c) ferret around the back of their pantry for anything resembling candy. You are more likely to get tinned peaches, aniseed balls, breath mints or ChocoLax than sweets.

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