The Tiger Spirit podcaster on her Oxford Moments
For us writers, writing is as much part of who are as breathing. We write to tell our own – and others’ – stories. We write to capture our experiences, make sense of them and to feel them more intensely through the creative act.
Writing to Connect
So when I moved from London to Oxford in Sept 2020 after a difficult relationship breakup, it seemed only natural to start writing about what it is like to try and make a new home in a new city. But I did not want to be bound by the professional discipline of writing a book or to be restricted even solely to the medium of the written word. It was important to me to explore Oxford and my burgeoning relationship with the city and its people and places in a wide-ranging, multi-faceted way.
I launched my Oxford Moments blog in January this year with the words: Writer & Podcaster Yang-May Ooi starts an old-fashioned blog about her new home city. Part journal, part local travelogue, the blog follows her exploration of Oxford, its people and places and what it is like to make a new home and a new life. The blog tells stories about and follows my new connections with Oxford people and places using the written word, photos and audio podcasting.
Dreaming of Oxford
As a child in Malaysia, my uncle used to tell me about his time here as a medical student at Corpus. I loved his stories of late night conversations with his friends, punting on the Cherwell, pranks in the quad. I wanted to come to Oxford, too!
And I did.
I read English at St Hilda’s (1981-84) and loved my three years here. I don’t remember doing any work – only punting, picnicking and partying. But being in Oxford in a student cocoon as part of “gown” all those years ago gave me a different experience from living here now decades later as a grown-up resident immersed in real life and a part of “town”.
Living in Oxford
After St Hilda’s, I moved to London where I lived for over 35 years, working as a solicitor and also publishing my books – two legal thrillers The Flame Tree and Mindgame (Hodder & Stoughton), a business book International Communications Strategy (Kogan Page) and a family memoir inspired by my theatre play of the same name Bound Feet Blues: A Life told in Shoes (Urbane Publications).
Being back in Oxford now, I love the city’s agelessness – but I am also enjoying the way that it has moved with the times over the last decades. The Cowley Road has evolved into a lively hub of cafes, bars and independent enterprise. Central Oxford is thriving especially with the Westgate Centre in its new shiny incarnation since I was last here.
I am especially loving the new friends I am making – from writers to filmmakers, economists to activists and everyone in between. “Town” Oxford is warm, friendly, open and has a global outlook which I find energising. I have invited some of these new connections onto my Oxford Moments audio blog which is published as part of my Creative Conversations podcast – including author Sylvia Vetta, cross-cultural consultant Patti McCarthy and Councillor Mary Clarkson.
I would love to continue making new Oxford connections so please do checkout my blog Oxford Moments and if you have a story to share on the blog or podcast, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Yang-May Ooi
Yang-May Ooi is a writer & podcaster. Her creative work includes The Flame Tree and Mindgame (novels), Bound Feet Blues (theatre) and Creative Conversations (podcast).