May Morning 2012

And so, yes, May Morning was wet. Thankfully the ferocious storm that woke the city at one am, and which left even the most hardened rationalist quaking in their beds, passed as quickly as it came. There was, instead, a persistent but bearable mizzle, but even so the weather was off-putting enough to reduce last year's crowds of 18,000 to an impoverished 4,000 (photos and video by Nomi).

Nevertheless, the Whirly Band were out as usual, sheltering from the rain in the atrium of the Clarendon building, and though both band and crowd were understandably a little bit lacking in energy, we got there in the end.

I remember thinking at one point, rather disappointedly, that it was all going to be a bit of a damp squib, that it wasn't going to work. Then I looked up and saw that, by dint of the way the rain had accidentally stained the stone, the statue of Sir Thomas Bodley on the New Bodleian Library appeared to have grown horns, or hare's ears, or more probably asses ears.

And at that moment the magic struck. Suddenly we were bouncing, the music was playing us. In response, the crowd started dancing, splashing through the puddles with arms linked in celebration. The weather couldn't stop us.

Halfway through our set someone approached us asking for a hat to pass round. 'We don't want your money!' I shouted back! I didn't mean to sound ungrateful but that's not why we do it. Later, when it was all over, a woman came up to me and grabbed me by the arm. 'I love what you all do' she said. 'It makes my day. It's truly wonderful.' That's why. We do it because we don't have any choice.


  1. I'd have been there in boots and bells... wonderful energy, thanks for the video!

  2. Marvellous. Here's to the life-force-celebrating things we do because we don't have any choice...



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