Ray Crozier asks:

The “mysterious” shortage of good places to eat in Oxford wouldn’t have anything to do with the reputation of the Bullingdon Club, would it?

It’s possible, but fairly unlikely!

The article Ray is talking about is very specfically concerned with the state of dining within Oxford itself: the city is, Lanchester writes, “one of those prosperous cities that is mysteriously short on good places to eat”.

The members of the Bullingon Club do indeed attend the University of Oxford, and the club itself is certainly famous for its extravagant and destructive dinners: carelessly damaged dining venues, smashed china, broken windows.

However, articles like Barney Ronay’s 2008 Young, Rich and Drunk point out that the club tends to dine “at some unsuspecting rural restaurant where a table has been booked under a pseudonym”, rather than within Oxford itself. This is certainly the pattern followed in, for example, a famous 2005 incident in which four participants in a club dinner were arrested; the dinner in this case was held at the White Hart, a fifteenth century pub in Fyfield ten miles outside Oxford.

For this reason, the Bullingdon Club’s reputation is probably not a primary reason for the apparent dearth of good restaurants in the city itself.