It’s a crisp autumn evening and the last of the English sun dips behind the top of Oxford Town Hall. A couple of friends and I lock up our bikes at the end of a narrow alley and turn around to the oldest pub in Oxford, The Bear Inn—dating back to 1242. The Bear gives off a warm glow through the glass pane windows with vague silhouettes dancing back and forth. I take a pint of beer brewed just five miles down the road. It’s good...everything you’d expect from English pub culture.
After you get your hands around a pint, the first thing you notice are the horde of club tie snippets hanging from the walls and ceilings. And it's not hundreds, it's thousands. Started in 1952 by the landlord, Alan Course, and given by patrons (some famous) in exchange for half a pint of beer, the collection numbers northwards of 4,500 ties...ties mostly signifing membership of clubs, sports teams, schools, and colleges. You have to see them up close in person to truly appreciate the scope of it. And if you do make it into The Bear, don’t forget your club tie.