Steaming spires: what Oxford taught us about sex

PHOTO// Melissa Mercier

Bugger all, that’s what.  That’s not to say that you should literally bugger all, of course, there’s just not enough time. Did any of you catch last year’s adaptation of The Vagina Monologues at LMH? The demonstration of the so-called ‘Oxford moan’ (‘I-should-be-working!’) seems to sum up the general attitude to Oxonian slap and tickle. Is this accurate? Let’s take sex in the library. We’ve all been there; the library that is.  You have your favourite desk, a regular shelf…nothing better to lift you out of the rut than a bit of the other. Just remember to keep the noise down.  Or shag the librarian.

During your Oxford interview all those many moons ago, you might have been asked something like, “Can you give me an example of a time when you displayed good time-management skills?” and responded with a sweet little diatribe about whacking out your French coursework whilst preparing for your Grade 8 flute exam and hiking up a mountain for your Duke of Edinburgh Award (does anyone ever give a shit about this, by the way? Anyone, ever?). Post-Oxford, possibly at some point during the six months immediately following graduation, you might now respond:

“Well, there was this one time, when I went to visit my boyfriend at his college for a quickie before my tutorial. I had to make a mad dash across town on my bike, I was going at full pelt over the cobbles (didn’t really need the quickie by the end of it), I’d left just enough time to drop in on the LGBT rep before leaving college, to stock up on condoms and use his printer, so it was literally a quick in-and-out when I got to the boyfriend’s, then back on the bike…”

Meanwhile, in the tutorial…

Camilla paused in her reading, caressing the back of her neck. Dr Pettyfer – Tom – he preferred the informality of first names – watched as her finger found a loose curl of hair and drew it up, only for it to spring back, recalcitrant and playful. Hmmm…

She was speaking again, her lips soft and slightly wet.  Like petals after a shower. And always she wore that private smile. He wanted to know her secrets, to undress her and lay her down upon the floor, exposed and open and ready. He would kiss her nipples, hard, pinkish buds. She would pant quickly…

Strangely enough, Dr Pettyfer’s lecture series on Flaubert is the best attended in Oxford. Camilla would be there, if it didn’t hurt to sit down.

But back to first base. Once your parents have shown their love by staggering up three flights of stairs with all your worldly possessions, you are introduced to your altogether more attractive parents. Or not. Either way, this is your first opportunity to score; and with any luck, one or both will want to shag you. But don’t give in too easily; demand a milkshake first. If all else fails, there’s always your acne-ridden sibling. You might just want to check that it’s not syphilis first.

Oxford certainly teaches you to fake it, in one sense at least, by which we mean Wednesday night at Fuzzy’s: walking in and being demonstrably not Brookes because you didn’t know you had to dress up as a slutty nurse, or a slutty sailor, or a slutty dinosaur (it’s been done). All very well being engaged in some tender dancefloor digits on the floor, but what of the awkward twenty minute walk home to Cowley, when the harsh light of the kebab van shows you who you’ve really scraped out of Christ Church (sorry Christ Church)? Such fears are put to flight if it’s a gentle stumble up nearby Div Road: past the Co-op for some crisps first though, obvs.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that this great institution should produce some – how to put it – special individuals.  People with a thirst for knowledge (and other things) who, because they can’t get those other things at Thirst Lodge, put their perfectly-honed research skills to good use. Suddenly, the list of items to pack in readiness for the new term is growing: stationery, duvet covers, hockey stick, Fleshlight…

Eight weeks. That’s all you get.  But you need those long holidays to recover from anything you might have, y’know, picked up during the term. What has this taught us? Get a job with long holidays. Become a teacher.

Piqued by Camilla and Tom’s tutorial frolics and fancy trying your hand at an erotic short story?  Or perhaps you have one stashed away on the hard drive?  The Erotic Review Short Story Competition 2012 launches this week.  Closing date is midnight on 15th December 2012.  For more details and endless inspiration visit


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