Tag Archives: rowing

Disobeying civilly: A Windfall of Interest

9 Apr

As promised, this Saturday last I donned my traditional London outer-wear and hit the mighty River Thames for a spot of pompous canoeing.

You may remember that I promised either that or a football match, but seeing that the river is at most a 30-second walk from my front door, common sense and/or laziness prevailed. That and the football turned out to be an away match in Bolton.

I must admit that upon walking in to the pub for pre-race festivities, I accepted the fact that the most exciting thing I was going to experience that day was the Dyson hand dryer in the lavatories. You know the ones I mean. And I was almost wrong.

For those who don’t know, Saturday was the day of the famous Oxbridge versus Camford rowing race, or something like that. I believe the history dates back to a day when there was no fox-beating to do because all the hunting dogs ate bad servant meat and got food poisoning. With nothing else to do, this guy fell slapstickishly in to the river and landed on a passing pontoon. The rest is history, as they say.

Anyway, after a few beverages I reluctantly joined the rest of my group and left the pub to watch the start. “Give it a chance”, I thought. At this point I’d love to say what I saw was worth the pain and effort of standing on tip-toes for several minutes. I can’t.

For some inexplicable reason, we had to run (not walk, run!) back to the pub to watch the rest on TV. But alas, when we got there it had finished…..Or had it?

With the boats motionless in the water, I was ready to head for the bar. Until someone told me the race had been stopped and was waiting to be re-started. As it turned out, a 35-year-old Australian had decided the race was too boring and wanted to stop it, or at least inject some interest, by swimming out and disrupting the boats. Or at least that’s what I thought until I read his blog:

“THIS IS A PROTEST, AN ACT OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, A METHODOLOGY OF REFUSING AND RESISTANCE. THIS ACT HAS EMPLOYED GUERRILLA TACTICS. I AM SWIMMING INTO THE BOATS IN THE HOPE I CAN STOP THEM FROM COMPLETING THE RACE AND PROPOSING THE RETURN OF SURPRISE TACTICS.”

My eyes glazed over some time before reading the end of that paragraph so if anyone wants to contact me and give me the gist of it that’d be great. However regardless of his reasons, and the fact he is clearly completely crazy, this idiot has inadvertently bought about a positive boom of interest in a race that probably wouldn’t have been front page news otherwise. As angry as the organisers must have been, every cloud…

As if that wasn’t enough drama for everyone on the Pimms train, one of the rowing sticks broke and someone passed out at the end. He’s fine now though. After all that, people got back to what I suspect was the main reason a lot of them were there in the first place. Put it all together with some nice people and its actually not a bad day out, stay tuned for a weather-related whinge though. Topped off with a few nice curries paid for by my housemate, I was one happy boat fan by Saturday evening.

Oh and I think Cambridge won, judging from the less-than-friendly stares I got from Oxford people while wearing my teal-coloured hoodie (£12 from Primark, let me here you say B-A-R-G-A-I-N).

 

Safe travels. J

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