inspiring display of disregard for physical pain. The Merton Time Ceremony converts the otherwise unexciting experience of putting your watch back an hour into a replay of the learner driver’s be- loved ‘reverse around a corner’ manoeuvre. On foot.
Spring sees yet another trip down to the riverbank, but this time it’s the Thames. Back at University, Ascension Day brings a shower of hot pennies from the roof of Lincoln’s Front Quad, apparently in order to teach passing schoolchildren about the dangers of materialism.
So if there’s anything for a newcomer to glean from taking a close look at the panoply of traditions that make Oxford so unique, it’s to take them all with a pinch of salt and a light heart. The most ancient-seeming are often modern, the most solemn frequently comic, and the most formal conducted by participants who make up the rules as they go along. The only tradition Oxford carries on with expert pride is the tutorial. But that’s another story.
18,000 people celebrated May Day at Magdalen Bridge in 2011.