This Week on Oxford Road: Arty Giraffe

This has been a bit of an odd day. I made the mistake of starting the second Hunger Games book last night at about 9pm, which meant that I had to carry on reading it until it had finished, which was the early hours of the morning. And then I compounded this foolishness by making the same mistake all over again and starting the last book this morning. So I had to carry on reading until that one had finished, too, which meant the aftershock of reading a disturbing book all at once and then being spat out into the real world was twice as disorienting as usual. I emerged at 3pm, having stopped only to poke a spoon at Henry’s clamped-shut mouth (why won’t my babies eat?!), and felt all dystopian and very neglectful and really rather hideous about it all.

So I apologised, we went out in the sun to the post office, and then, next door, here:

I’ve been intrigued by Arty Giraffe since it opened. It seems so out of character for Oxford Road. It’s opposite a little car park kept not for cars but the gathering of shady characters after dark, and next door to the famed Fish and Chicken Inn that sells goodness knows what. Even Winslet Avenue (named after Kate, I believe) can’t lend more than a glitter of class to this end of the street. In contrast, Arty Giraffe looks like an art workshop and cafe, and has little tables inside and out for cosmopolitan types drinking coffee. Are there any such types on Oxford Road? Seeing it there has cheered me up no end and simultaneously filled me with fear that they’re going to go out of business (it’s always seemed impolite to ask). But I’ve never ventured inside.

Well, they’re very nice people. The walls are covered in various arts and crafts paraphernalia (they do workshops for kids and adults) and there’s a counter with a drinks machine and stands of cake and cookies. There was a mother and two girls at the sunlit table by the window, painting Easter eggs.

After the friendly lady behind the counter had taken my order and told me about some of the activities they ran, another family came in and she explained they’d just had to put down their cat. Was she so nice she remembered everyone’s life story, or did they know each other already? I don’t know, but I had a sudden urge to confide in her that I was Rachel and this was Henry and after reading The Hunger Games I felt like I was navigating a dystopian wilderness of the soul and I wished Henry would eat something that wasn’t strawberry fromage frais. Instead I took my hot chocolate and shortbread and went to sit down. The late afternoon sun streamed in, jewel-hued, through multicoloured hangings, the hot chocolate was very good indeed, and I felt quite a lot better.

Henry was a little annoyed that I didn’t let him have any of my shortbread. That’s not what I mean when I say real food, boy.


6 thoughts on “This Week on Oxford Road: Arty Giraffe


    I liked them a lot – I thought her writing wasn’t brilliant (though it wasn’t awful) and she had an annoying teen-fiction tendency to end every chapter with a cliffhanger, but the plot was great. I shouldn’t have read them all in one go because I felt very disturbed afterwards. The ending was surprising, I thought, but good – I admired her for not being afraid to kill off key characters. It made it very unpredictable. And she didn’t shy away from showing what drug-addled basketcases people became because of what they’d been through.

    What did you think? I’m dying to get other people’s opinions.


  2. I found the end felt really rushed, Like she sort of thought “oh, I’ve nearly finished, I’ll just tack on the ending and I’m done.” Almost as though she lost a few chapters. I liked that main characters went too, but that many of them weren’t made much of a deal of, as if they had been minor characters. I agree about the annoying cliff-hangers!


  3. Hmm, yes, I’d agree with both of those points. The ending felt rushed but also over-long, if that’s possible – it was almost like she’d run out of ideas and kind of drifted along to a conclusion. And some of the key relationships were given short shrift at the end.

    Looking forward to seeing what they’ve done with the film, at any rate. Don’t know how they managed to film it in order to get a 12A rating, but there you go. We’ll see.


  4. I liked the film in a different way. I won’t say more as I tried to say just that sentence to my sister (who’s not seen it yet either) and she almost took my head off 😉


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