Icon of the Week: The ‘Offisis’

by The Features Team | June 9, 2024


In the spirit of the Offisis (The Isis Office), we tried to write this collaboratively. 


Joseph: “The fridge stinks, there’s a hole in the floor, and Harry has decided, as we write this, that the couch also stinks.”


Harry: “The fridge reeks, the floor’s broken, the carpet hasn’t been cleaned since 1800 and sitting on the sofa puts you at risk of contracting the clap, and worse still: we have to share with Cherwell.”


Albert: “Most of the time, we end up meeting in The King’s Arms—perks of which include a floor without holes, tables without paint peeling off them, and fridges that don’t contravene the Geneva Conventions (all beloved features of the Offisis).”


Joseph: “We have no way of spinning this positively. We wish it were nicer. To be honest, we prefer meeting at the King’s Arms. Cherwell are probably fine with it, though. “We love the Choffice,” I can hear them drone in unison. But they’re wrong in two ways: it’s not very nice, and it’s not called the Choffice. It’s the Offisis, has been for years.”


Harry: “Still, the office is nicely redeemed by the loss of the key, which means we typically end up in a pub. So, to be honest we prefer the King’s Arms, but I guess the Offisis will do until OSPL want to pay for something better. Nevertheless, she is an icon. She is our icon, broken, battered and smelly as she is. She has been home to lay ins, onboardings and years of romances (although Isis welfare guidelines discourage this). The place has a charming mildew and rot about it.”


Albert: “In keeping with Isis-y artsy pretension, somebody has left a remarkable work of abstract, pollock-style  expressionism in the toilet bowl. I dread to think how long it has festered there, but I think it might soon qualify as a new form of life.”


Treya: “The location leaves something wanting: far out past the police station, past the head of a river, over a bridge, down a weird staircase, up another staircase, and still somehow, despite all the effort, I’ve managed to annoy 3 other tenants by ringing the wrong doorbell, because we never have the (singular set of) bloody keys. And yet, we run, sweaty and tired (and sometimes coming from Cowley) to make our much awaited meetings, only to be redirected to shouty and inhospitable pubs.”



Narrator: It’s time to dig deeper. We’ve decided to ask a few questions about the room. Violet starts with the luminous pink poster ‘hot people read the Isis’. Do hot people still read The Isis? We’d like to think so. 


Joseph: “If they’re reading anything, they’re reading The Isis.”


Harry: “Yes, unfortunately they’ve ceased to write for it though.”


Bella: “Statistically, 1 in 2 readers are hot.”


Treya: “The causal relationship is inverse: reading the Isis makes people hotter (to other readers of the Isis).”


Kelsey: “I mean, I was reading it only this morning, so do with that what you will.”



Narrator: Speaking of snaccs, Bella wanted to know what people had been eating in the Offisis. Mostly because she’s been buying the snaccs…


Issy: “Tesco strawberries, ripe and ready.” 


Joseph: “Cadbury mini rolls.”


Albert: “My words.”


Narrator: And these snaccs can’t be kept just anywhere! We have the beloved ‘kitchen’ to thank for all its contributions this term. It’s practically a member of the Features team. What does everyone think of the kitchen?


Issy: “I wouldn’t drink the tap water.”


Kelsey: “What kitchen?”


Bella: “If you open the fridge it changes the smell of the entire room.”


Violet: “Can we even call it a kitchen?”


Albert: “I’ve had no kitchen for two years, so I would take anything.”



Narrator: So we’ve (quite quickly) established that the kitchen isn’t necessarily the most stylish part of the Offisis. But luckily we have the posters to save it. Ah, the posters! How long did it really take for the Features team to decode the iconic ‘eye-sis’ poster?


Harry: “I only got it about 10 minutes ago.”


Violet: “Instantly: I’m a dingbat fanatic.”


Issy: “After it was explained to me.”


Narrator: But the ‘eye-sis’ poster isn’t the only decoration to hang high in the Offisis. There’s Cherwell propaganda,  whiteboards with lay in preparations, and, oh… the Oxford Scientist poster.  Don’t worry if you’re confused. The team also wondered if anyone knew the Oxford Scientist existed before seeing their poster.


Albert: “No.”


Bella: “Yes.”


Kelsey: “I do History.” 



Narrator: Never fret, Kelsey, there’s lots of history right here! But there’s one particular part of the Offisis’s history that everyone is dying to know… What’s the story behind the hole?


Joseph: “It’s where the Cherwell hides their [insert bad joke here].”


Kelsey: “Editorial bust up.”


Bella: “Nothing. But the floor is in front of it.”


Violet: “Better left unsaid.” 


Treya: “It was destroyed by use of the office floor for nefarious experiments; the nature of experiments – sexual or scientific – depends on the publication in question. Obviously, The Isis is exempt from any blame.”


Issy: “I don’t want to know.”



Narrator: Speaking of, well, holes. What’s the toilet situation?

Alice (from the creative team) pitched in on this one: “Encountering the office loos: a tough choice between the one that has a working lock but no light, and the one with a working light but no lock. I often opt for complete darkness myself.”


Kelsey: “Does the one with no lock have a working light?”


Albert: “It’s an inspiring place to work. The fumes from the toilet, combined with those of the fridge, induce a kind of delirium conducive to boundless creativity.”



Narrator: Moving away from toilet humour, there’s a large stack of unused PCs on one table. What’s that about?


Issy: “Maybe Currys had a deal on.”


Joseph: “It’s a tribute to the death of newsrooms.”


Kelsey: “It’s probably an avant-garde homage to the Ctrl album cover.”



Narrator: I’m dying to know. Who actually came up with this ‘Offisis’ x ‘Choffice’ debate?


Bella: “Let me set the scene. It was 7pm, getting dark outside. I was at my first ever SET meeting. We kept speaking about using the ‘Choffice’ and I felt it was simply all wrong.” 


Narrator: Go on. I’m on the edge of my seat.


Bella: “Well… In a moment of fantastic patriotism I felt the beginnings of a word rumbling on the tip of my tongue. I had an alternative.”


Narrator: You genius.


Bella: “Yep, that’s how the ‘Offisis’ was born. The meeting went quiet. Everyone was in awe.”


Narrator: And, well, how widespread is this term? 


Bella: “It’s a sensitive topic. The only people who now use the term ‘Offisis’ (copyright: Bella Gerber-Johnstone) are those in the Features team. But I like to believe that the very word ‘Offisis’ will live on for centuries, will outlive this office, even.”


Narrator: Right.


Kelsey: “I mean, when Bella told me this in the pub the other day, I was astounded by her genius. It was life-changing stuff.”



Issy: “As we surveyed the PC graveyard, the homemade posters about the magazine’s history, we felt strangely nostalgic for an office that we barely used.”


Violet: “Especially because most of us didn’t make it to the onboarding meeting at the start of term. We began by avoiding the Offisis at all costs.”


Treya: “Those of us that did escaped to Chequers about 15 minutes in; there’s only so many bisexual leather-jacket wearing fiction writers one can make conversation with.” 


Narrator: Fair.


Kelsey: “Well it’s not ‘hot people go to Isis onboarding’, is it?”


Joseph: “I stayed at the meeting longer than most features writers, shorter than everyone else.”


Bella: “In my defence, I was watching an Arsenal women’s match!”


But that all changed… 


Violet: “Maybe because for all its faults, difficult neighbours, and unwanted Cherwell copies, the Offisis has provided a space for our ‘Breakfast Club’ esque team to come together once a week to discuss ‘what we’re working on’: a farce to talk about various useless topics such as whether or not dad is capitalised (in case you were wondering, it is when it’s your dad).”


Issy: “The budget version of Head of the River does house some of Oxford’s most grammar-obsessed students. And, once again contemplating the hole in the floor, we conclude that the office is an alright space that reminds you if Evelyn Waugh wasn’t wasting his time, then you’re probably not. The hacks have the Union, the rowers have Jamal’s and weand unfortunately Cherwell have the Offisis.”


Of course, we’re probably all on a watchlist because of our suspicious meeting spot, but the river view makes up for it.∎