Hence why the unofficial motto around here is "It made sense in the 1200s". See, whenever you run into something inexplicable (or alternatively, requiring a 15-minute long explanation full of medieval references), the short answer is just so say: "Hey, it made sense in the 1200s!". Confused about the college system? Well, it made sense in the 1200s. Wonder why the same street changes name three times within 2 kilometers? (I'm looking at you, Cornmarket!) Well, back in the 1200s...And let's not forget about sub fusc and Matriculation.
|Of course, keeping traditions doesn't mean that we can't have flat screens in|
an 800 year-old church. This is St-Aldates, where I attended an Intl Student
Welcome Dinner my first week here. Picture courtesy of friend-of-friend`s FB.
Sometimes, however, even things in Oxford aren't old enough to warrant the 1200s-explanation. Therefore, a popular variant is the "Around the 1800s..." justification. This is particularly true regarding my field and faculty. The English common law wasn't as much taught as learned on the job for the longest time.Señor Blackstone found that out the hard way in 1758. The entire system of the BCL (why a "Bachelor of Civil Law" as a master's degree?), the MJur (why different names for what is essentially the same degree?), along with the vocabulary of "writing a paper" (ie. taking a course) and final honour schools (final year all-inclusive exams for undergrads), all make sense once put into their rather complicated historical context. I mean, we probably could hypothetically modernize everything, but: a) that'd be losing centuries of reputation and b) what would be the fun in that?
|Sir William Blackstone, of the infamous Commentaries|
and the first Vinerian Professor of English Law.
Finally, there are some inexplicable things here which, no matter the time period reference, simply DO NOT MAKE SENSE. In that case, the default explanation is "Oh, those crazy English people...". Case in point: Separate taps for hot and cold water. Gosh, this drives me absolutely c-r-a-z-y. You get scalding hot water coming out of one tap, and freezing cold out of the other. Ugh. My dishes never feel quite clean (unless I want to have burnt hands), and neither does my face (I've resorted to washing it in the shower). I have never appreciated the possibility of having warm and even lukewarm water at will. Oh those crazy English people.
|My sworn enemies, separate taps. GRRRRR.|
Speaking of oddities, I'm thinking of doing a whole series about things specific to Oxford and its people. It'd be under the form of an abecedary, so I'd write about one oddity per day in alphabetical order. What do you think people? Yay or nay? I know you don't often comment, but I'd really love to get some feedback on this idea. So comment ahead...thanks!