Merton rescues the Universe once again

College News News

Time stood still for Merton students this weekend as they marked the clocks going back in their own unique fashion.

The college held its annual “Time Ceremony” in which students walk backwards anti-clockwise around Fellows’ quad in an attempt to generate enough counter-clockwise momentum to slow  down the Earth’s rotation and correct the interference with the space-time continuum that’s caused by British Summertime.

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This combination of Newtonian physics and port drinking has taken place on the last Sunday of every October since 1971. According to tradition, Mertonians assembled in the quad at 1:40am for speeches and toasts bedecked in subfusc.

At 2am, cries of “Long live the counter-revolution” prompt the two hundred assembled students to walk, stumble and twirl backwards in an anti-clockwise  direction around the quad.

Saving the universe is incomplete without a soundtrack and highlights including ‘God Save the Queen’, ‘Guide me o thou great redeemer’, ‘I will survive’, ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’, ‘Rule Brittania’, ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ and ‘You spin me round’.

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A more sober attitude to the proceedings was taken by the JCR helpers who had chosen not to partake the port being shared amongst college members.

John Brazier, Welfare Rep and second year mathematician, commented: “It’s amazing that nobody gets hurt, but, to be honest, we do it every year, and it’s been ok so far. It’s very surreal, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I wish I was drunk, but unfortunately, I am not.”

Chris McCabe, academic affairs officer and second year PPEist, added: “You have to be absolutely [inebriated] to enjoy this. It’s good fun, just completely weird”.

Unfortunately Mr McCabe had to rush off, as a group of spinning Mertonians had gathered too much momentum and were having difficulty turning the corner.


Aside from a few minor injuries, the evening passed without significant incident, much to the approval of college authorities, and the relief of Nicole Sparkes, JCR President.

She reflected: ‘The Time Ceremony went really well this year – as is testified by the fact that the important space time equilibrium has indeed been maintained!

“Students always take on their job of saving the universe with great enthusiasm, belting out songs to reinforce their efforts of walking backwards around Fellows Quad and spinning.”

Sparkes added: “As a helper, I of course, was not taking part myself, but I found the experience really fun, if not a little bit surreal!”

Students were thrilled to be involved in such a vital piece of timekeeping, and look forward to performing their duty with equal dedication next year.