MOTORING IN OXFORD
AVERY eminent French journalist was angry with the Prefect of Police. He argued that his arrangements for the Paris traffic were bad ; and he was convinced that if only the eminent gentleman were to get into his little Citroen coupe and drive round the town, his arrangements would be more practical. So he wrote a vehement article and entitled it “Monsieur le Prefet
de Police, en voiture ! In the same way we must cry from the housetops ” Messieurs les Oxoniens, en voiture ! ” (or, of course, “en motocyclette ! ” if it is not ridiculous to tell anyone to get into a motor-bike). At all events let Oxford motor, and it will really enjoy itself !
It is a popular supposition among people who have never been there, that Oxford is a town full of horrible undergraduates all tearing about in enormous motor cars. Of course this is entirely untrue ; as to whether they are horrible, well, of course, one can argue about that ; but it is undeniable that they do not go about in motors large or small, nearly enough.
It is nearly a year now since the powers that be issued the edict that all undergraduates’ cars should carry a green light. Of course, every one knows the tales of these who conscientiously fitted one and then ventured one winter evening into a distant Cotswold village, where the local constable was so impressed by the mystic sign that he hastily consulted his” book of the words’ There he discovered that to carry a green light was the privilege of the very highest members of his force, with the result that he saluted smartly and remarked “01 course, Sir, you’re the Yard ! ‘ Or the yet more improbable one of those who were arrested for usurping the privileges of His Majesty’s police force and clapped into jail ; whence they had to be bailed out by the proctors in person. But all this is beside the point, which is, that these beautiful little green lights have shown up the horrid fact that there are not nearly enough undergraduate motors. Oxford doesn’t motor enough yet, and it does not motor well enough—most of its motors are dull. Of course it has its Isotta Frashcini and it has its Hispano Suiza—(though when one mentions the latter, I have known people laugh, I can’t think why). But where
are its Grand Prix “Bugs.” for instance ? Of course “No cars of racing type will be licensed by the proctors,” but then where need one draw the line anyway ?
Of course the town motors considerably better. There are some very attractive cars in the town and one has seen drivers who know how to use them. For motoring in Oxford requires its skill. In the first place there is Carfax, where the two enormous policemen are very awe-inspiring. Who has not seen the unfortunate ladies, for instance, who have failed to stop behind the white line, being solemnly waved back by a portly policeman, even to the detriment of the lady’s tail lamp and the front wings of the car behind ? Then, of course, there are the bicycles : Oxford is just black with bicycles, and no one knows where they all go at night. At any rate it is good practice in steering to miss them, especially when the big flotilla is let loose from Morris’s. The younger generation too have a habit of providing interesting stopping tests for the F.W.B. exponents, by throwing themselves off their machines a yard or two in front of an oncoming car.