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The real Oxford landmark: G&D’s

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Image: Wikimedia

When I first came to Oxford for a summer school, I only managed to ascertain two absolute certainties in this world. The first is that the architecture at St Catz was never going to grow on me. The other was my discovery of the delight that is G&D’s. There are a number of reasons why it is less a mere supplier of good ice cream and more of an Oxford landmark that all ought to revel in. The last bastion of truth in this world proclaimed that “G&D’s can do no wrong”. Here are the reasons why it is the case.

It works as a social setting as opposed to merely a factory for dessert and diabetes. There are very few people amongst the dreaming spires who cannot get behind the best ice cream in the region. You need never fear that it will be a one off trip, either. One of the things that distinguishes G&D’s from the run of the mill ice cream parlour is the sheer range of flavours, each and every one of them delicious in their own right. Only one thing unites them: the fact that all the specialities are so good none would hesitate to order them again. Only in an Oxford G&D’s would you find 25 students enter a store in sub-fusc and order all manners of ice cream and other items of sugary deliciousness.

This is the real strength of G&D’s as a social institution. It can be used for so many things and work equally well for all of them. It is possible to spend two hours in there talking about the world politics and the university without feeling at all uncomfortable, or you can go there simply because you are bored and want some time for yourself. It is criminally underrated as a work space as well. It provides you with ready access to pick me up food and reduces the level of distractions that you could well face if you were to revise in college. The music is never overly loud and imposing. G&D’s strikes a very good mix of musical items as a result of the drive to involve of their customers in constructing the playlists that they will use in their stores. This means that it is unlikely that you will ever be subject to ‘Stacey’s Mom’ levels of audible incoherence. The atmosphere has been well designed to appeal as neutral, bordering on the welcoming. This is exactly the kind of atmosphere that good institutions need to strike up. It ensures that you can always say “Do you want to go to G&D’s?” and the answer always lightens up your mood.

Some people will protest that it is a bit pricey for what they consider to be ‘just a scoop of ice cream’. To this there are two obvious objections. The first is that ice cream is less of a purely functional dessert item and more of a system of morality. The indulgent pleasure you derive from your hedonism is the consumption of the best ice cream. But you will always get to the bottom of the tub and realise that life is meaningless once you have got through the superficial pleasures you afford yourself. Ice cream is very important, and so we should not be too concerned about the slight extra expense. In more human terms, the G&D’s ice cream is of the highest quality. The cost incurred is larger in producing this ice cream and it shows. So if you ever want to dig yourself out of a rut and enjoy a sunny day in Oxford, there is only really one place to go.

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