My Oxford: Bill Heine
Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Oxford?
I came over from Washington DC to read law at Balliol in the 60s and never looked back. I introduced Oxford’s first independent art cinema, the Penultimate Picture Palace, in 1976, and later opened The Not The Moulin Rouge Cinema in Headington.
Finally, I decided to give the city I love a gift, and the ‘Shark’ crash-landed in my roof at New High Street almost thirty years ago. I’m a presenter with BBC Radio Oxford and a regular columnist on Fridays with the Oxford Mail.
What to you are the most iconic aspects of Oxford?
I saw an elderly bag lady sifting through a public litter bin in front of the Sheldonian Theatre. She was dwarfed by the gigantic “Emperor’s Heads” sculptures in Broad Street. She told me the tin from discarded drinks cans was valuable and she could sell it to make money to give to the poor. I’ll never forget it.
What are your favourite haunts around the city?
The Painted Room in Cornmarket near Carfax above the Betfred shop is a Tudor gem with yellow and ochre wall paintings in the front bedroom of vintner John Davenant’s house, where Shakespeare is said to have stayed during his travels between Stratford and London.
Where do you eat and drink?
That depends on my mood. If I want Thai, it’s the White Horse Pub in Forest Hill. For Lebanese I eat at Al Shami, opposite the Synagogue in Jericho. The Cherwell Boathouse is a favourite and never disappoints. The landlord at the Rose and Crown in North Parade, Andrew Hall, always has a very mellow Rioja on tap.
What about Oxford has inspired you or helped your creative process?
The Dean’s private garden in Christ Church under the tree where Alice’s Cheshire cat used to climb and sit and dinner at High Table at Magdalen College both suggest you are not too far away from ‘Wonderland’.
What’s the worst or least attractive thing about Oxford?
Oxford City Council in full flow. I like councillors individually, it’s just when they get together that I have a problem because the smaller the amount of power the greater the urge to exercise it.
Do you have an area, street or village in Oxfordshire that is special to you?
Holywell Cemetery is a beautiful wildlife sanctuary with graves of many well-known characters and a personal sanctuary where I once slept when I arrived too late to get back into my college.
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