In the interest of full disclosure, severe disorganisation meant I found myself desperately trawling Oxford, alone, in -1st Week, searching for any open college bar I might be able to sneak into. After two hours of walking around spookily empty colleges, and finding nothing but locked doors and grumpy porters, I began to pity those students stranded among the spires outside of term. But the Bar Review Team is nothing if not committed, and I eventually found refuge in Linacre, a small graduate college tucked away in the shadow of that monstrosity of a building they call the Zoology Department.
My first thought was that this was no bar at all, but merely some old lady’s living room with a bar thrown in the middle. With horrible orange walls and a frankly bizarre layout, it could equally be mistaken for the set of a student production of Abigail’s Party. Linacre provides ample evidence of why bars should never, I repeat, never double as common rooms. Though I must concede the plethora of seating – including some extremely comfortable sofas – and surprisingly good sound system were impressive. There is also table football and darts behind the bar, for those so inclined.
The drinks selection was certainly better than what I have come to expect from student-run bars, with a particularly pleasing array of beers, all offered at standard college bar prices. I think it would be fair to say the students running the bar offer a friendly but no-frills service. My pint was well poured, yet upon asking for a spirit mixer, I was handed two shots of rum in a branded pint glass and a can of coke on the side. Half of the spirits on offer were actually hidden out of sight of the punters, which seems a completely unnecessary flaw. They don’t sell a signature drink – perhaps graduate students are just too ‘mature’ for such things?
I have to hand it to them, though, the bar was busy for the entire evening, especially for a Monday outside of term, and whoever was in charge of the playlist was doing a stellar job. My experience was only somewhat worsened by the guy sitting next to me, who potently and incessantly farted in my direction, but it’s surely unreasonable to blame Linacre for the questionable actions of their students’ bowels. Were I a Linacre student, I may have considered posting passive aggressive complaints on their adult equivalent to a JCR Facebook notice board, or even post-its on the bathroom stall doors. Alas.
This bar would be an unfulfilling but just about acceptable venue for actual Linacre students, and potentially even relaxing after a long day of shouting and waving placards outside the science area as part of their never-ending campaign for neverending change. However, I can’t say it would make a good hangout spot for any of us lowly undergraduates, even during term.