The OUCA meeting concluded with rapturous applause. We set forth from the Port Mahon at sundown, and made haste on a westward heading. Buffeted by the elements, our vessel swayed and heaved, threatening to be run aground. Nevertheless, our vision obscured by the spray, we swiftly rounded the Cape of Good Hope and raced past Sainsbury’s Local. Out of Cowley and into Oxford.
The positioning of three men on one Voi is a careful arrangement that will be familiar to readers of the Adrenaline Junkie’s Kama Sutra. With the constant threat of oncoming traffic, the footwork is a lot like Prince Harry applying cream to his todger, in that it’s difficult to focus on what you’re doing down there when your mind keeps going back to a car crash. Our crew happens to be the regular trio from back at Eton: Montgomery, Montmorency, and me. As usual, Monty 1 roars “Faster, J!” and Monty 2 shrieks for me to slow down: a regular quarrel that makes their companionship most distracting.
We thunder past the Botanic Garden now. The generators of the kebab vans are seductive siren calls from the shore, but we are held back, like Odysseus bound to the mast, by the tangled one-dimensional Twister game at our feet. This route has its hidden temptations too- the Piers Gaveston bus idles gently in the High Street. Those onboard are raring to set off for an exhilarating shag in a field, their treasured annual excursion. They smugly fly in the face of the agreement between all people to have their sex in private, an idea so old that quite literally Adam and Eve came up with it. I’ve heard from several sources that the society’s president once referred to the trip as his Magical Mystery Tour, but one wonders if it’s more of a desperate Please Please Me. Or The White Album for that matter.
I make note of each establishment that crosses my line of sight. The Covered Market is home to innumerable coffee shops with names like The Gulp of Wall Street and Chai Hard. The Varsity Club inside, I decide, is home to Oxford’s only club floor where you might actually feel some adrenaline, albeit by falling over the railing to your death. Much further up the High Street, the cavernous maw of Westgate throws us into shadow. Its name could be a tabloid’s headline for a Kanye scandal, and its retailers could be much less expensive.
Carrying on straight, I watch The Oxford Mound soar past. I remember it during its renovation, when I had scaled a fence to sit drinking scotch at the hilltop, and it occurred to me that since it had officially reopened, I’d never thought once about going back up. You can put up a barrier in any arbitrary place and people are desperate to be there on the other side of it. Perhaps if they’d taken the security fences away from Downing Street there wouldn’t have been quite so many Conservative leadership contests.
The Voi takes us further still, swerving neatly around each corner. Worcester Street now, and a smooth cut-through before we’re up and over the stream. A certain nightclub stands proudly: a club that has, in my mind, done more damage to the reputation of the word “Bridge” than the Tacoma Narrows disaster. The Said Business School is here too, so-called because its students never stop talking about going there.
At long last, the scooter is decelerated. Our journey concludes at the railway, where not only are the trains delayed, but now the station is too- so say recent headlines. The Voi is parked; our weary sea legs disentangle. Letting the vehicle settle on its kickstand marks the end of our perilous journey, and I am ecstatic at the thought of the comparative comfort of the train. To allude to a previous analogy, it would seem to me that the electric scooter is much like a certain royal himself: entrepreneurial, far too open, and consistently ready to throw someone under a bus.
Image Description: Four Voi scooters parked at night