Varsity Match – Oxford

On Sunday 12 May a group of us convened on Oxford for an inaugural One Giant Chicken Varsity Match. We ended up with twenty people (3 who live in Oxford, 16 who live in London, 1 who lives in San Francisco). on an absolutely beautiful day.

We began at the Weatsheaf, a townie pub if ever there was one. Why? Because it’s right in the middle of town, down an alleyway, and that way no unsuspecting non-Oxonian Chicken would wander in there. As it turned out, I had the good fortune of drawing my own name to be One Giant Chicken. I high-tailed it across Christ Church Meadow, down the Long Walk to the Head of the River. Where else could I go, really? It was a lovely spring day and that chicken costume is HOT. On the way, though, I was like the pied piper. Several toddlers (presumably mistaking me for Big Bird) tried to follow me on my merry way.

Anyway, despite Oxford being a fantastic city in which to drink, we discovered some downsides for One Giant Chicken. The first was intentional: we declared all society bars out of bounds. That meant no college bars or butteries; nor could the chicken avail itself of Vinnies, the Union Bar, or the University Club. That left about 30 pubs/bars in the centre (see the boundaries we used below). We also made sure that an Oxonian was able to captain each team. And since I was chicken they had a pretty good hunch that I wasn’t going to be some place dreadful like the Mitre or Maxwells.

Of course, my being chicken also gave Andrew’s team an unfair advantage, which he exploited. Nice day + my preference for a pleasant afternoon = head to the pub with the best patio. And there they found me, almost immediately. Sigh. Alana took a picture to prove that they’d won, but we were tricksy and did it inside, with the giant fireplace behind me, which did indeed throw some of the others.

Team 2, led by Syracuse and Poppy, made a few false starts (Chequers?!) but found me within about 30 minutes. Team 3, headed by Tony & Stu, headed north first, but after failing at the Eagle and Child they joined us. That left team 4, led by Dottie & Tab. I’m sorry to say we toyed with them a little bit, feeding them ambiguous but rather misleading tips. The result was that they were VERY drunk and rather peeved by the time I posted my tip…

After which they found us very quickly (though they still did Strawpedos at the Old Tom on their way south). For those of you forgetting your ancient Egyptian mythology, that’s Isis, the namesake of the River Thames in Oxford.

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  1. OGC might actually be best played in venues where the majority of participants don’t know the majority of the drinking establishments. Otherwise it risks being rather predictable.
  2. Playing on a beautiful day is great, but you should be aware that chickens like beer gardens, and that can narrow down the options.
  3. No one in Oxford bats an eyelash at a grown man wearing a chicken costume at a pub mid-afternoon whilst reading the London Review of Books. No one even asked me what was going on.

Pictures to come shortly.

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