01 May 2007

May Morning

Below: Magdalen College Chapel Tower and Magdalen Bridge

If I were in Oxford now, I would probably still be in the pub, staying in for a lock-in before heading off to Magdalen Bridge at 6 a.m. to hear the choir of Magdalen College sing from the top of their chapel tower. Late-night drinking laws have meant that lock-ins have become a less enticing option if not a complete anachronism.

Having grown up in Oxford, I assumed that May Morning was a national event but my enjoyment thereof was always thwarted by the fact that a) I lived in a tiny village outside of Oxford and was - until the age of 18 - without a car and b) I almost always had school the following day. I was so excited when I went up to Cambridge and found that I was living in the centre of town - party on! Or not... I was sad to discover that the celebrations this side of the world are, like most things, less exciting than outside of Nowhereshire.

The first May Morning I went to, I was about ten. I camped in the garden with my dad and brother the night before and then we all went into Oxford at about four-thirty. The town was heaving and we watched some morris dancing in Radcliffe Square before going to watch the singing.

The last May Morning I attended (on account of studying in the Other Place, which is now my "here") was during my last year of school. I stayed up drinking in the pub until midnight, got a lift home, slept until 3 a.m. and then drove back into town to work a 5-hour shift in the Sandwich Shop of Dreams, which was right next to Magdalen Bridge. That shift was pretty entertaining given that all of the customers were absolutely wasted and in serious need of coffee and bacon sarnies, hence orders such as, "Give me two quadruple espressos and a large breakfast bap!" were the norm. At 8 a.m. I drove to school and had a full day of lessons and then, as if all that wasn't enough, drove to my rowing club after school for a two-hour outing on the river! Not everyone's idea of fun but it was certainly an experience.

I imagine that 1st May, 2007 will pass - as most days tend to in Cambridge - without event. At least us Cambridge students are far too sensible to throw ourselves off bridges into water that is way too shallow (ah hem - except during May Week, but that's not until June!), despite the police's best attempts to prevent them from doing so and thus spending May Day in hospital. In comparison, work seems almost fun.

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