Monday, May 01, 2006

Memories of May Day

Today, I received an email from an old friend who lives in Oxford (England), wishing me a happy May Day. This took me right back to the good ol' days -- summer days spent punting (usually from the Cherwell Boathouse) to the Victoria Arms for a few pints, then punting back; or picnics in the University Parks; or getting kebabs from the kebab vans to eat on the way home after pub closing time.

May Morning was another fond memory. Many of the Oxford colleges will have had their balls the night before, so many of those gathered on Magdalen Bridge were those who had been up all night partying. I've never been to a ball, though. On more than one occasion, Mark and I had toyed with the idea of going to a ball, but always ended up deciding that the money could be better spent. I would have just been up all night chatting over a quiet drink with friends and drifting in and out of sleep.

Then, when sunrise was approaching, off we'd toddle, to Magdalen Bridge, ready for the Magdalen College School choir to sing madrigals from the top of the Magdalen College tower at about 6am. In those days, there wasn't all the nonsense of people jumping off the bridge like there is today. Back then, you'd get two or three people stripping down to the nude and jumping off the bridge and into the Cherwell and a cheer would go up from the crowd. Last year, over one hundred people jumped off the bridge, many of whom suffered broken or sprained limbs. I don't know what this year was like, but really students -- enough is enough.

Then, everyone goes into town to watch the Morris Dancers and peruse the various stalls. We would slowly make our way to one of the many pubs (which opened early for May Morning) where we would stay until it was time to go to our lectures.

In the UK, the first Monday in May is always a Bank Holiday. This year, the Bank Holiday and May Day have coincided. I wouldn't be surprised if this has caused a large increase to the number of attendees to the May Day celebrations in Oxford, perhaps leading to an increase to the brainless leaping off a bridge into shallow water.


Casie Maeve said...

Egland sounds so pretty. I wish we americans were like that!

Anonymous said...


So good to read this as, guess what Nicola, Corrie, Hannah and I were doing on April 30th this year - punting down the Cherwell to the Victoria Arms with our friends Dave and Clare although we just turned around at the Victoria Arms so that we could go to the Trout at Wolvercote.

A superb weekend all round


crystal said...

Thanks for posting this :-)