Apart perhaps from your lap top and mobile phone, your best mechanical friend at Oxford is a bike. For Boaties I suggest, sine qua non. That the trip from College (indeed anywhere in town) to the Boat House is downhill is surely one of those acts of Divine Providence which would have convinced the mediaeval philosopher that there was indeed a God. You poke your nose out of the door on a dank February morning and just point the bike, no need even to pedal. Then the return journey uphill with the prospect of breakfast in front of you could be vertical and still offer no hardship.
But seriously, Divine Providence goes even further and provides Grandparents who want to buy you a Christmas gift. ASK FOR A BIKE. I’m not suggesting one of those thousand pound jobs with frames weighing just a couple of ounces and saddles so narrow you realise why thongs went out of fashion. Unless you take those to bed with you and chain them to the laboratory bench next to you, they will be stolen. Get a solid no nonsense machine from Cycle King up the Cowley Rd for under a hundred quid or even better a second hand machine for 30 from a Police sale or the classified ads in the Oxford Times. You’ll need a good lock (combination is best, you can lose a key but not a number) and lights and fittings as the coppers have occasional blitzes. Besides they help prevent you falling in the river or smashing into irascible commuters on the towpath. Then make it not worth a thief’s while by splashing pink paint on it and getting it etched with your post code at the Police Station. The only snag with a grotty bike is that you have to make sure its worth riding so occasional expenditure on cranks, tyres, wheels, brakes etc are a depressing but necessary evil.
In the winter a bike prevents suicide, in the summer it simply expands your horizons. Oh wow, the country pubs you can visit and as yet, the Boys in Blue have not yet charged anyone for being drunk in charge of a bicycle.