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Merrymaking in May Week
Long time, no blog. In the name of studiousness and final exams, I have been calling upon all my willpower (and most of my friends) to prevent me from accessing any form of internet or technology not directly related to my degree. Which resulted in Wikipedia becoming a procrastinatory tool, which in turn means that I am now well-equipped to tackle any pub quiz that comes my way.
But I am taking to the blogosphere once more because: a) I have finished exams and am therefore free from the self-imposed shackles that bound me to my books, b) I now urgently require distraction from a burgeoning post-exam hangover, and finally c) there is a bee in my bonnet. Buzzing angrily and noisily. Which the hangover doesn't like at all.
This bee (like many of its companions) has been planted by the Daily Mail, which, in its infinite wisdom, has reported the scandalous news that undergraduates occasionally stay up late and go to parties. I feel as though I should introduce the Mail to my good friend the Bear, but unfortunately he's currently otherwise occupied in the woods.
The piece, entitled 'Toff their heads!' – I can almost hear the self-congratulatory snickering – mostly features pictures of young twenty-somethings SMILING and DANCING and DRINKING and LAUGHING. Which, to the sane, might not initially seem that risible, but, to the Mail, they are 'wealthy scions' defiantly sniggering and staggering.
Yes, they're on their way to and from Trinity May Ball, at which they may have had the audacity to consume champagne and oysters, and a few of them – not all, as we must keep repeating – have been to private school. Yes, it's a posh affair. But, essentially, what they're doing is putting on their princess dresses and James Bond suits and enjoying their youth for a night. They're doing what every other university student in the country is doing, many of them on a much more regular basis because they're handing in three essays a term, not three essays a week.
Resorting to lazy, transparent Oxbridge stereotyping on a slow news day does not good journalism make. Tickets were not, as the Mail reported, £215. Not everyone was utterly wasted and lying on a pavement. They managed to find one or two idiots in a group of over 1,500 people. I think that's a pretty good statistic, actually – you'd probably find a larger ratio of morons to normals on the average high street.
Let me explain. In typically bizarre Oxbridge fashion, May Week is in fact two weeks in June. It generally entails students rising in the mid-afternoon, going to garden parties for bouncy castles and booze, and then dancing the night away at a May Ball before rolling into bed about 7am. Yeah, it's a bit decadent. But it's bloody good fun.
And, I'd like to point out, in total proportion to the pressure of finals. Of course, there are more trying experiences to undergo. No one is pretending otherwise. But when students resort to antidepressants and colleges take it upon themselves to lock high towers because of the suicide risk, clearly these exams provoke intense stress of some kind.
And if you're sat there thinking I'm some kind of self-indulgent slattern, and suspect me of being utterly toff my head at this very moment, I must ask you if you've ever gone out and got squiffy down the pub on a Friday night after a hard week at work.
Because if you have, then you know what I'm talking about. May Week is a Friday night at the local writ large, with ball gowns and bubbly, shisha pipes and helter skelters.
Would you ask my friend Isobel to apologise for throwing undeniably fantabulous shapes in a silent disco and knocking back a few cocktails having just bagged herself a First Class degree in Neuroscience?
Well, you could. But you'd be the grinch incarnate. And no one likes a grinch. They tend to be unattractively misanthropic. And green.