The Malcontent on: May Day


Start of Trinity term, exams looming, and it’s high time for a break: thankfully, tradition dictates that we have a nice little party out in Port Meadow once a year, where we can all go and celebrate the sun coming back. What fun!

But aside from an excuse for an astonishingly muddy micro-rave, the Oxford May Day, like many Oxford takes on time-honoured traditions, doesn’t quite conform to the rest of the world. Occupy are busy occupying things worldwide, the internet freedom brigade are busy training Theresa May’s spam filter with their mundane correspondence, and across Europe, it’s a bank holiday to celebrate the contribution of the working classes and the labour movement. What do we do? We stay up and watch a bunch of (pretty talented, really) schoolkids sing hymns off the edge of a building, neck some champagne in a college hall, and feel all classy about ourselves, in this, one of the most unequal cities in the country.

It all seems a bit pretentious, even dickish, no? Get up at three, get an annual dose of this particular flavour of outlandish, outmoded and elitist tradition, and then head back home at nine to remember of how lovely it is that we don’t have to go to work this morning and then have a quiet nap until eleven. Look at all the poor plebs, stuck with a bunch of major roads closed so it’s a pain to go anywhere, and rejoice! At least you’re not them. You’ve not even got lectures today, because it’s Trinity!

The sky gods are backing me this week. If the weather on Monday night was anything to go by, they’re not too keen on people staying up all night, getting delightfully wobbly courtesy of substances of a variably legal nature, and particularly disdainful of outdoor fuckin’. Even the culture vultures who only bothered with the choir and breakfast option got the delightful pairing of constant drizzle and occasional downpours. Bacchinalian revelry is astonishingly good fun, but if you’re going to get all Pagan about it, obey your gods when they send thunderous omens of displeasure. Occupy have it right. At least they have tents.

John Glanville