I walk into Catz JCR bar. It is a busy Monday night – indeed, a quiz night is about to start. The innovative Grade I-listed, vintage 60s, minimalist creation of Arne Jacobsen beckons with its stylish combination of concrete and wood panelling. This isn’t your typical Oxford college bar. No ancient stone or bland modern construction is in sight. The place is pretty hip.
I am here to interview Ferhat Engin, Catz JCR barman of 11 years who has recently been nominated for ‘JCR Ruler’ at this year’s Acatzemy Awards. Being in contact nearly every evening with hundreds of students at Oxford’s most populous undergraduate college, he is a very well-known and very well-liked figure in Catz life.
Someone in his position has the opportunity to develop a number of unique, interesting, and well-informed insights into the everyday lives of Oxford students.
To begin with, I ask him what the most popular orders are in Catz JCR bar. I am also keen to know some of the more unusual and potentially frivolous orders he has received during his time at the College.
He tells me, “Cider & black and vodka & mixer are the most ordered drinks for sure”.
“Sometimes we get students who want to experiment and create their own drinks”, he adds. He informs me that there once was a student “who used to drink Smirnoff ice, Ginger Joe, and a shot of Chambord all mixed together.” Stunned by the randomness of such an order, I ask him what the student named such a concoction.
However, he refuses to tell me the name as the student “gave it a very rude name which I should keep to myself”. Before I can order one, Ferhat informs me that the drink “was too sweet and disgusting!”
Moving on, I ask him what he thinks of his clientele. I am eager to discover what he talks to them about, and cheekily I ask him if he has any favourites. He tells me that he “loves the people at Catz.”
“I think I’m very lucky to be surrounded by so many interesting people. You meet new people every year from all around. We talk about lots of things: their coursework, personal lives, sometimes silly things.”
He declines to name any of his favourites, but he does admit to having some. Perhaps, I wonder; just maybe I am not one of them. To finish with, I ask him about his views on Entz in the College. He tells me, “Entz are fun!”
Ferhat believes that it is up to the students to make them a success. Catz JCR has Entz reps, but Ferhat feels that people shouldn’t expect them to have to do all of the work to make things fun.
Indeed, he feels that sometimes only a few people join in with the pre-Entz activities. “It seems to me people prefer staying in their rooms and drink with a few of their mates rather than coming down to the JCR to create a party atmosphere,” he muses.