Sunday, May 01, 2005

How Many Morris Dancers Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

How Many Morris Dancers Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

May day is something of a tradition in Oxford. It's the day when a good percentage of Oxford's populous descend upon Magdalen College to hear the choir boys sing, and not jump in the Cherwell, at a time when it's normally only the rowers up and about. Or people who haven't gotten in from Park End*. By past experience 4.30 in the morning seems to be the optimum time for quality events. After a brief swing towards my joining the celebrations last night when it was pointed out that breakfast at Freuds was in the offing**, I finally decided that May day morning is something that you have to do once in your Oxford career. And therefore I was absolved from having to get up at a ridiculous time and then pay ten pounds for breakfast given that I'd already taken part in the ritual. Plus I remember the level of tiredness when I did it in my second year - I had two hours worth of lectures in the morning and I almost fell asleep in them. For most people this might not be odd, but for me it's very strange. Mainly because i)I have issues about sleeping in public places*** and ii)They were lectures on the Romantics given by the lecturer I would quite happily have married were he not a lot older than me and, crucially, already married. Given that I absolutely had to get a good days reading done I stayed in bed while the rest of my house headed down to the Cherwell. Smug, me?

This is not to say that I didn't get my own taste of May Day Oxford stylee. Camped out in my favourite duck-watching-possible-punt-disaster-spot it seemed that some free entertainment had been laid on should I become bored of Troilus's "double sorwe". On the other side of the cherwell a group of Morris dancers had formed, fetchingly wearing lots of pink. And oh how they danced. But Morris dancing being Morris dancing they didn't hold my attention for too long, or at least they didn't until they started hitting each other with large sticks. It was at that point that I considered that the Morris dancers might have been joined by some sort of battle re-enactment society. Or, more interestingly, a faction of rival Morris dancers who were going to engage in a fight to the death. I was puzzling - and chuckling to myself - over this when suddenly the air was filled with an almighty BOOM. Think of my exploding computer and multiply it by twenty five and you might be there. And at the BOOM, which had sent all the ducks flying up into the air, everyone around me immediately looked over to the Morris dancers. Now this might just be me but I'd never realised that the firing of a gun was an integral part of May day celebrations. But no, these rival Morris dancers seemed determined to fire that gun at increasingly regular intervals. And because I'm slow on the uptake it took me until the 15th shot before I stopped jumping off of the ground when I heard it.

After two hours of this - in the meantime having my face licked by a roving dog**** - I decided that I was going to want to use the gun myself if I heard it again, so I packed up and ended up sitting in the college grounds with an invisible 'do not disturb' sign above my head. On the plus side the new location was without the possibility of getting maimed and I did get told the football results.

And I still didn't see anyone fall into the river.

*Yep that would be a club where your feet stick to the floor.

**Freuds = somewhere I eat when other people are paying.

***Really, can't do it. I have to be incredibly tired for my body to even consider it. Maybe that's something I should have gone over with the therapist.

****Seriously can no one keep their dogs under control?


Shona said...

Hearing football results was not fun for me today ..... would happily have stayed away from another championship loss!

Gun firing Morris Dancers is a new one on me - I think you showed remarkable restraint.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear news of the many injured ,this morning,when jumping into the Cherwell.
Hope you are safe and well.

Corinne said...

I only heard about the injuries at lunch time; thankfully they're not as bad as first reported - no one is being treated for spinal injuries - though there are still people in hospital with broken bones.

I'm rather shocked that so many jumped in, especially when it sounds like there were about 40 people injured.