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The holy Trinity (and croquet)
2nd June 2012 will mark the 60th anniversary celebration of the Queen’s coronation (the diamond jubilee) and the party will last from the 2nd to the 5th on the extended weekend caused by the new bank holiday. That means, folks, reserve Saturday of sixth week for a party that will know no equal.
With Oxford’s history of sheltering the monarchy during the civil war expect a special celebration: there will be festivities in Tom Quad in Christ Church (and a concert) while Oxford castle is holding a festival for the event. The castle will host a national town cri- ers competition and a celebration of Morris dancing combined with a commemoration of Morris motors and their influence in the city, culminating in a motor parade.
Although the student body might be perceived as less enthusiastic for the monarchy than other sections of society (noticeably less so than the older sectors) let us not forget that we owe our current education to a King’s charter, and that (morbidly) this could be our last chance to celebrate a great anniversary together.
Let us put aside our divisive hats and let this summer in Oxford be a truly royal one, with Morris Minors accompanying the Queen’s cavalcade.
Students lounging in shady splendour beneath overhanging green boughs, what could say ‘Oxford’ more than the pastime with the world’s most unfortunate rhyme? But the reality of punting can be far grimmer than what is advertised: wet clothes, long periods spent completely lost and culminating in hefty bills, and what is of course worst of all - abuse from backseat punters who feel entitled to loudly critique your steering, if only through the medium of offensive laughter. Cherwell will steer you through these difficulties this summer, like an adept punter negotiating a particularly spiky overhanging branch directly in front of a punt.
There are two main boathouses on the river: the Cherwell Boathouse near Wolfson and the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse. There are substan- tial discounts available depending on which college you’re at, so it is well worth checking in advance which boathouse contains your very own
punt. As to the act of punting itself, it looks deceptively easy but can be extremely challenging: gentle movements and an eye for future obstacles are very important. For the more expert punter there are exciting ways to show punting prowess - you can organise Punt races (although finding a stretch of the river sufficiently wide, empty and long can be difficult) as there is even such a thing as a racing punt. Bridge jumping is the stuff of punting legend: the person punting impressively grabs a bridge that comes his way, climbs over it and then drops back into the punt. This has been known to be a very effective method to further stir the passion of a swoon- ing partner; when they incline to- wards you, lips ajar and eyes alight with passion, your sudden disappearance, the ensuing confusion and then the thud of your reappearance will no doubt render them even more speechless and amorous.
Swimming is also pleasingly cooling on a hot day although perhaps not entirely to be recommended due to water quality. Nothing poops a party more than a prolonged bout of vomiting. There are also debates as to which drink is best to accompany puting: Buck’s fizz or Pimm’s? The ensuing photos on Facebook will also reassure the public that you do indeed go to Oxford, and that Oxford is indeed a very silly place. And punting is a far more stylish way to travel than in a Morris Minor.
At 6am on the First of May you might normally be safely curled up in bed, looking forward to everyone’s favourite fifth month of the year. But the First of May is completely different at Oxford, as for more than the last five hundred years the Magdalen college choir have climbed the 172 steps to the top of Magdalen tower and then sung to crowds gathered below (often having stayed awake from the night before at balls).
They sing the Hymnus Eucharisticus, a song performed on special occasions at Magdalen. The fact that many of the revellers congregated might not be of the finest disposi- tion to truly appreciate the music has not stopped the recent use of amplification to guarantee that all those present can hear the vertically distant sounds. There used to be punting after this and jumping from the bridge, but recent contro- versy and injuries have drawn an end to these more wicked elements of the celebrations. There is also now Morris dancing after the ceremony. Need we say more?
This is a sport that is treated most seriously here in Oxford. The Cuppers competition is the biggest sporting event in Oxford and the chances are (approximately one in ten) that you are already taking part. But this only makes it more essential that you heed our guide to the com- plex and often ambiguous rules:
1. The sport works as a sort of continuous golf where instead of hit- ting balls into holes they are struck through hoops and all the players take turns one after the other.
2. The roquet is the sinister move whereby a player hits their ball at the other team’s ball, moves their ball next to this other ball and then has the opportunity to smash it as far away as possible. This both delays the other team and grants the player who hits the ball another turn.
3. The ball when it goes through the last of the hoops has committed a rover. It may then be hit at the peg in the centre of the game and after this be removed from the field.
4. A cannon is when three balls are touching together, a bisque is a free turn, and a peel is to send another player’s ball through a hoop. A Morris Minor is a bow made with the mallet to the nearest royal on the court.
5. Different colleges worryingly have different informal sets of rules. Cherwell councils a high level of wariness: one rule has it that you have to go back to the beginning if another team hits your ball onto the centre peg before it has gone through all the hoops, another says that if you hit your ball through the first peg once all other players have finished you have to do a quad run (a lap on the quad naked).
There is a £100 champagne prize on offer for the winners so every piece of expertise you can get is necessary.