Friday, June 13, 2008
It's trashing season again. If you've never experienced this tradition-that's-not-actually-that-traditional, now is the time to explore the relationship between trashers, trashees and trashings. For those not in the know, the ever omniscient Wikipedia has quite a good definition:
Trashing is used to describe the practice of students of the University of Oxford when contemporaries complete their exams. This involves throwing items such as confetti, champagne, flour, eggs, shaving foam, "silly string", raw meat and octopus at said students. This is a relatively recently adopted tradition originating in the '90s, which has caused complaints from the public.
It's not just students who do this, although suffice to say parents and unknown tourists would not be welcomed! Friends from other walks of life come to join in the festivities, particularly at weekends. It feels like being part of a riot to begin with: police all around, barriers, procters (university police), lots of people waving things in the air and yelling. Except the things being waved are giant helium balloons, bottles of champagne, confetti, party poppers and Mexican hats. There's a great feeling of tension, like waiting to charge in battle. The first bleary-eyed finalists emerge from Exam Schools and the charging cry is sounded: suddenly chaos ensues, with the sub-fusc adorned warriors struggling to find their allies in the brightness of day. Silly string is fired, party poppers brandished and balloons fill the air as they bob their way down the cobbled alleyways.
Officially, throwing any food item is now a finable offence: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/3652825.stm . This must have been great for the stalls and shops selling confetti and silly string, but the temptation and implied rebellion is too much for students, who end up throwing champagne, washing up liquid, flour, eggs and similar on each other in nearby alleyways instead.
Go along and have a goggle: there's still time. It's the ones in red carnations who are soon to emerge for the last time, and exams usually finish at around 12.30 or 5.30, including Saturdays. Just watch out for stray celebratory food!