Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us
THE MAN ABOUT TOWN: Magical morning that's seared on my memory forever
Three years ago, this very time tomorrow, my stomach had just returned to normal. That said, three years ago this very time today, I was doubled over in pain, as both my stomach and intestines protested vehemently over my plans for the following day.
Of course, not that anything dark, malicious or even dangerous was being contrived; it’s just, as a lifelong non-dancer, I was about, for reasons even I couldn’t fully understand, to create history. Personal history that is, the evidence of which hangs proudly in my kitchen.
You see, in January, 2008, I had a ‘Eureka’ moment, although unlike Archimedes I wasn’t in the bath when I grasped the root of inspiration. I was instead on a bus, travelling into work on a dark, wet, grim morning.
The name of this newspaper had been rattling around in my head, when I suddenly thought ‘The Oxford Males’ might be a great name for...
Well, that was the problem – a great name for what?
So I spent the rest of that day mulling it over (seriously, what else is there to do in work?). And then, like a thunderbolt, it struck me and I ignited. I had just come out of the loo and there on the office TV were some morris dancers.
Morris dancers? Yeah, grown men who look like they’ve never outgrown Jackanory or Blue Peter. And yeah, I thought, you’re kidding?
But I wasn’t. For some extraordinary reason, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to create a new morris dancing troupe with a 21st Century twist that went by the name of The Oxford Males. And I also thought it would be genius to launch this concept on an unsuspecting public just three-and-a-bit months later. On May Day to be precise.
So, to cut a long story short, I blackmailed a number of Oxford Mail employees who I knew were weak-willed and had nothing to live for.
They were grateful for the chance to prove, just once, that they mattered, that they could be jeered at, and that I wouldn’t tell anyone I had seen them at car boot sales when they were supposed to be sick.
For 12 weeks we rehearsed, thanks to some genuinely lovely morris men who boasted ‘pity’ in their double helix. And for 12 weeks, we got it wrong, every time.
Indeed, I can’t think of a single rehearsal where one of us didn’t hit another with a large, heavy stick.
But we persevered until, battered and bruised, on May Morning we bowed and performed, just once, a single faultless performance of the Adderbury dance beside the Bridge of Sighs in New College Lane.
We called ourselves Clockwork Morris, as performed by The Oxford Males, after the gangs in the film Clockwork Orange (the evidence is on YouTube incidentally).
And despite the fact I danced only once, it has forever seared the majesty of May Morning in Oxford on my heart and soul. In fact, when I’m on my death bed, I can honestly say it will stand out as one of the most blissfully happy moments of my life...