Hometown: Cambridge

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Cambridge is a half-hearted effort of a town. Let’s face it; it will always be the less quirky Oxford. From living in both places almost simultaneously it is easy for me to make a comparison and it’s not looking good for Cambridge.
I don’t blame you if you are fooled by Cambridge’s eccentric veneer. By law, you’re not allowed to play tennis in the street. Sounds kooky, but I’m afraid that bourgeois tradition feebly manifesting itself as idiosyncrasy is as far as it goes here. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that Cambridge is a vagarious vacuum.
With over 22,000 students frequenting the streets of Cambridge every year, you would have thought that the city would at least try and cater for this swarm of frolicsome, fun-loving twentysomethings. But alas, they are abandoned. Instead, the day’s entertainment comes in the form of punting under the mantra of you-will-bloody-well-grit-your-teeth-and-enjoy-it whilst unwillingly slurping warm, overpriced Corona and listening to the guide’s uninventive riverside commentary.
As our mediocre but ever-reliable local newspaper recently reported, ‘PUNT WARS BEGIN AGAIN AS TOUTS CLASH’. This is, of course, not referring to a low-budget Cambridge remake of Lucas’s galactic classic but to the fact that Scudamore’s Punts have a monopoly over Cambridge punting. But what does this mean for us river folk? It means that you should expect to pay in the excess of £30 every outing. What a bloody rip-off.
However, scathing remarks aside for just one moment, if you are ever in C-Town and find yourself drifting down the back alleyways, be sure to look out for a few hidden gems: the bohemian coffeehouse ‘Clowns’ is a Mecca for tiramisu-lovers the world over, the Japanese restaurant Teri-Aki serves cheap booze to the underaged and the charity shops offer cast-offs from the Cambridge elite.
And then, I suppose, there is the Strawberry Fair: an annual music festival in the heart of the city, rich with an inspiring diversity of people from louts to ladies to lawyers. Local bands come out in force and volume, exhibiting their raw talent and promising musical careers. The Fair embodies any remnants of a ‘scene’ in Cambridge.
But wait, what’s that you say? Strawberry Fair is cancelled this year? Yes, you heard correctly. Organisers say that ‘unfortunately, each year it is necessary to deal with those who would use the event as an excuse to offend’: a ‘scaredy-cat’ approach to the spoonful of adverse behaviour that inevitably emerges from such a unique event. So all that we have been clinging onto has faded and we’re left hungry for handicraft once again.
However, I am hopeful. Yesterday I received an invitation to a group on Facebook entitled ‘Even though Strawberry Fair is cancelled, I’ll still turn up’. This encourages me: perhaps the vision of the Cambridge people for a more eclectic city is not so blurred after all. It is for this reason that I remain loyal to Cambridge: I always knew that coming to Oxford would be a cruel test of where my allegiance truly lies.
Cambridge, my love, I’m coming home.

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