Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Master? Mistress? Mastress?

Dissertation hand-in euphoria
I can't believe it's the end of June!  Once again, where did the time go?  Oh, right, it went down the dissertation drain with everything else, hehe.  So glad that's over!
Now that I am a Master (well, I guess it is not official until they pass me...I'll let you know in a couple of weeks), it would appear that a serious retro-blogging is in order, as I've only brought us through Easter, and that was ages ago.  I now have a job with an hour-long bus commute, so I will be using that time to write posts, and hopefully will get us all caught up within a few days.  I would say more about the dissertation and the job, but in true book-lover fashion, I rather want you to read the story in chronological order!

I suppose the next exciting thing to happen after Easter was the Royal Wedding of His Royal Highness, Prince William of Wales to Miss Catherine Middleton, which I'm certain I don't need to describe, as it was televised and talked about endlessly, hehe.  I had the opportunity to watch it on the big screen at the Phoenix Theatre in Jericho, as my classmate, Rachel, had some free tickets.  I donned a pretty dress and my blue bonnet, packed some cherry Bakewell tarts and biscuits in my purse, got a take-away tea, and joined Rachel and Liz at the theatre at 9:45 a.m.  Anne came later, and brought us some blueberries and chocolate, so we had quite a little feast! The theatre was mostly full of older ladies, and everyone was excited to coo over the dresses and hats and to comment on the music and decor. We watched 
The honeymoon suite
Top hat and tails
everything leading up to the wedding, the whole ceremony, and the journey back--of course we were waiting for the balcony kiss!--so we were there until about 1:30, after which we walked over to Anne's college, Corpus Christi, to see the tortoise wedding.  That's right.  Tortoises.  Getting married!  Apparently Oldham and Bishop Foxe, after having known each other for a very long time, had finally decided to tie the knot.  It was an elaborate affair, with bunting and top hats and important speeches, not to mention cupcakes and scones for everyone (and strawberries for the newlyweds).  We had eaten our fill of sweets at the theatre, so we decided after the ceremony to go grab some sandwiches at Taylor's and eat on Trinity College's lovely lawns.  We had some delightful chatter that only included a little bit of dissertation talk, and we parted ways in the mid-afternoon quite happily.

The next day I was rowing in the Oxford City Bumps Races, and because I was the stroke of the boat, I had to go to the coxes meeting at 8:30 a.m.  That would have been fine, except that it was held at the City of Oxford boathouse, which is a good 45-minute walk from Bear Lane.  I borrowed Sophie's bike to get there faster, but the tires were really flat, so it almost ended up being more effort than it was worth.  The day of racing was lots of fun, though.  It was my first time stroking a race, and we were in a four that we had thrown together the day before, so I rather expected a rough ride.  We raced five times, and each time it took us a bit longer to bump the crew in front of us...but we did bump them all!  Our prize for this feat?  A mini-blade that looks rather like an oversized pencil, hehe.  But it's a blade, nonetheless, and it was free, as opposed to the £200 blades we are ordering now, from our victory at Torpids.

Ignore the mannequin head on a stick...
 This particular weekend was rubbish for getting work done on my dissertation, because the next day was May Morning, which is the occasion for one of those wonderful and weird Oxford traditions that are part of the charm of this place.  Always one to participate in such affairs, I duly arose at five o'clock in the morning and made my way down High Street, which had been specially barricaded off for this event, toward Magdalen College, where crowds were already gathering to hear their famous boys' choir (from Magdalen College School, across the way) greet the sun from atop the bell tower.  They were so cute in their little robes, peeking through the parapets and waving at the people down below!  It must have been cold up there; it was certainly chilly in the street.  They sang some lovely madrigals (including "My Bonny Lass She Smileth," which made me smileth, as I had sung it last year while teaching at Doane).  The sunrise cooperated perfectly, starting with a cool blue sky and warming into a pink and gold glow.  It all would have been extremely peaceful and beautiful, were it not for the unfortunate presence of hundreds of drunken idiots, many of them Oxford students, who had stayed out all night (many clubs and even restaurants had extended their hours to accommodate the tradition), rather than go to bed and get up early. I had never seen so many people out and about at that hour, and many were in quite dressy clothing, but had that sort of bleary, bedraggled, morning-after look.  I didn't like it at all; I am an early riser in general, and the mornings are my quiet time, my alone time, and here I was squashed up in a crowd of sloshed and smelly  students. I shouldn't 
I love the font: safety is FUN!
complain too much; I did still manage to find the performance quite moving, and there was a general hush while the singing was going on.  Apparently, it is common for students to jump off of Magdalen Bridge after the singing, which the police heavily discourage, but this year there had been so little rain in the days leading up to it that there was almost no water to jump into, and thankfully common sense prevailed with all who had been intending to take the plunge.  After it was all over, I made my way back to the MCR, where there was a warm croissant and pain-au-chocolat breakfast waiting, plus orange juice and champagne, and tea and coffee.

I gratefully partook of the repast (though no champagne for me--never did care for the bubbles), as I had an erg test later that morning, and needed some energy.  3:47 for a 1K is not my best, but considering how worn out I was from the previous day, and how little sleep I had had, I was happy with it.  And later that day...I got the email announcing that I would be the stroke of the W1 for Summer Eights.  Honestly, I have no idea how I managed to produce a dissertation amidst all of my other commitments.

Coming soon...May and June.  Also known as, "That Famous, Published Critic Totally Stole My Idea." Cheers for now, everyone!