The Cheeky Guide to Oxford
by David Bramwell
published in 2000, price £5.95

Available from
all good bookshops

The Cheeky Guide to Oxford takes an irreverant tone with one of England's most revered cities. Following on the heels of the highly successful Cheeky Guide to Brighton, its Oxford sibling manages to combine the virtues of a useful guide and an amusing read. In pulling off this feat, it should appeal especially to day-trippers and students.
Unsurprisingly, The Guide includes sections on the University, shopping, food, nightlife and accommodation but it also extends to "Subversive Oxford" (information on underground organisations) and "Sex" (reviews of the two sex shops on Cowley Road). The chapters are easy to navigate but the lack of an index makes pinpointing particular entries difficult. Cartoons and photos are scattered throughout the book as well as several "spotters guides". The text itself is highly readable, bordering on chatty, and swings wildly from the informative to the surreal.
I only noticed a couple of outright mistakes (and the odd typo): Queen's Lane probably isn't a good place to go clothes shopping (Queen St might be a better bet) and the Ultimate Picture Palace, already insulted by a rather harsh entry, is further injured by an incorrect phone number (it should be 245288). The Daily Information web-site gets a one-line entry, but omitting any mention of the sheet ("a brightly coloured A2 broadsheet, packed with listings, adverts and reviews: an indispensable source of information, displayed at over 500 locations all over the city" is my suggestion for the second edition) is almost unforgiveable.
But gripes aside, the Cheeky Guide is well-researched, humorous and attractively designed. It's appearance goes some way to pricking Oxford's hubris, but it's this very quality which may stop it becoming a phenomenom along the lines of the Brighton guide.

Mark Schofield 25.8.00