May Day

May Day is one of Oxford's many weird and wonderful traditions. The basic
essence of it is that at 6am a choir sings from the top of Magdalen Tower to
welcome in the summer, and thousands of people turn out for it. In previous
years some drunk and/or stupid people have then taken to jumping off
Magdalen Bridge but following last year's injuries and newspaper headlines
the bridge was closed yesterday morning.

The mix of people is always good fun and somewhat eclectic; it includes
those who have been up all night - often at a ball and therefore often drunk
- as well as those who have got up bright and early just for the event
itself, who range from fresh and full of energy to bleary eyed and in a
dressing gown. People seem to travel some way for it as well.

Yesterday I got up despite the drizzle and was let in to the grounds of
Magdalen College itself by some friends (thanks guys). It was a great place
to be, and the choir sounded really good. True to form there were some
people nearby shouting "Neville" in a loud and drunken way, presumably
because there was someone called Neville in the choir whom they knew.

Following the singing and prayers from the top of the tower (which last for
a surprisingly short amount of time) we went back out on to the High Street
to join the river of people dispersing back up via Radcliffe Square. To be
part of such a huge crowd at just after 6am is a very surreal experience,
and for that reason alone it was worth getting up. The usual array of folk
dancers and musicians were in and around Radcliffe Square itself and the
biggest highlight for me has to be the man dressed up as a tree bobbing
around with the Morris Dancers. As if the whole thing wasn't bizarre enough
already. It was quite an impressive costume and it must have taken him
hours to put on. Talking of costumes, the most disturbing thing was the man
wearing tight pink leggings. Revealing is an understatement, and at that
time in the morning it was not good.

One of the few things which annoys me about Oxford University is it's
refusal to recognise bank holidays, and I had a 9am lecture to head to after
a leisurely and rather enjoyable breakfast. [NB - a teaspoon is not an
implement which can be used to eat cereal efficiently]. What made the whole
May Day experience yet more surreal is that as I strolled to the lecture
theatre the streets were once again quiet and no different from any other
Monday; somehow the crowds had all dispersed.

After something of a working afternoon my day was wrapped up beautifully by
a leisurely punting trip complete with a picnic and Cava and Pimms to
celebrate my birthday. The sun was shining, the banter was brilliant and as
we meandered back to The Turf afterwards for a drink I was feeling very
happy and contented. Thank you to all who contributed to making it such a
good day :)

Comments

snoz said…
hope you had a great birthday!
just to let you know, i always use a teaspoon to eat my cereal and i think it works very efficiently!!

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