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Oxford Punt Meet: Report


From: Peter Ellis <pjie2@cam.ac.uk>
Newsgroups: alt.fan.pratchett
Subject: [F] Oxfrod puntmeet report
Date: Thu, 02 Sep 1999 14:43:56 +0100
Message-ID: <37CE7F1C.C97B3610@cam.ac.uk>

Hear ye!  Hear ye!

  In the recent past, as some of you may be aware, there was A Meet in
the quaint county of Oxenfordshire, for to assemble and make merry, to
eat, drink and otherwise carouse, and to mess about on the river in
strange things with flat bottoms.

  At this point, I suppose I should include a brief history of the punt,
and a guide to punting, as edification for the geographically- and
historically-challenged among us, to wit: Merkins and other flora.

*************************************************************************

The History Of The Punt:

  Once upon a time, there lived a hairy caveman called Ug, who lived by
the side of a big river.  He was a highly-sophisticated caveman, and was
much more up-to-date than all his neighbours, because he had invented a
marvellous thing.  It was a box.  A flattish rectangular box.  Made of
wood.  He used to put things in it.  And then, when he was tired of
that, he'd take them out again.  
  As you can no doubt imagine, this high technology angered all his
lowbrowed cousins from down the road, so one day when Ug was fast
asleep, they grabbed him, threw him into his box and pushed him out into
the river.  He was not amused by all this testosterone-fuelled japery,
and took up his wooden spear and tried to throw it at his tormentors. 
However, he was an uncoordinated oaf, and ended up sticking the pole
into the water instead.
  Lo and behold, to his great surprise, he found that this method,
mind-bogglingly inefficient and terminally tiring though it was, had
given him a craft wherein he could sail the globe with impunity, and he
went on many divers and wonderful excursions throughout the globe,
founding the nations of Australia [1], Merkia [2] *and* for some
unguessable reason Patagonia.  And they al lived happily ever after,
including the low-browed cousins -- or they would have done had they not
been killed in a freak shower of mammoth.

*************************************************************************

A Guide to Punting

  Stand at the back of the punt.  It's not a gondola, dammit.  And if
you try to do the wussie Oxford thing of standing down in the well
rather than up on the end of the punt, be prepared to be sneered at.
  Face towards the side of the river -- your left ear should be facing
in the direction of travel.  You don't need to see which way you're
going.  Trust me on this.  You can't steer worth a damn anyway, so why
bother *looking*, you'll only upset yourself.
  Grasp your pole firmly, and let it drop down immediately beside the
punt, then give a mighty heave and make like you've got some muscles. 
You never know, you may fool *someone*.  To steer one way, push away
from you, to steer the other way, angle the pole under the punt.  Or
don't bother, because no matter *what* you do, you'll end up zig-zagging
like a loony.  Best to just put up and shut up
  Sometimes your pole finds a yielding, squishy bottom, and sinks in an
extra six inches with a sort of "glop" sound.  This doesn't mean you've
struck oil; what it *does* mean is that you have about a quarter of a
second to extricate it before you get yanked into the water.  Twiddling
the end sometimes helps at this point.
  Now you have the hang of it, thrust away with all your might.  If you
*really* exert yourself, you might just keep pace with the arthritic old
geezer walking his dog beside the river.

************************************************************************

But enough of this, and on with the Meet Report!


Those Present:

Phantom, doc, Herald, (these three left late afternoon-ish to go to
somewhere in Wales.  Fools), Anejo, Stewart, Thorin, AfPumpkin, Jamie,
Thomas, LoneWolf, Ponder Stibbons, &, co., Barry (evening only), Leo,
Arthur the Thinking Brain Tribble, Peter and Peter's Reputation.

As you can gather from the above, it has become clear that my Reputation
has assumed a life of its own.  I'm reliably informed that it turned up
to the meet somewhat before I did, and lowered the tome of the
conversation admirably. To this, all I can say is that it seems to lead
a much more interesting life than *I* do...

We assembled at the Head of the River pub -- I managed to be only an
hour and a half later than I'd hoped due to magnificent incompetence on
the part of the railways... we were half an hour late leaving, then
delayed another 40 mins outside Didcot because they couldn't shut the
train doors...

After a minor carouse and a chance to get my breath back and stop
fuming, we headed for the punt hire place, at which point co. declared
that she'd stick to me like glue because I knew what I was doing.  Poor
deluded fool.  Still, I managed to disabuse her of that notion soon
enough.  Four of those present decided to opt for a rowboat instead,
which seemed to obviate the point of a puntmeet, but no doubt they had
their reasons.

Anyway, much inefficient propulsion later, we came to the back end of
Magdelene college, and got out for a lie down and a quick breather. 
Talking happened and quotes were collected, though fewer than usual due
to a general policy decision not to collect quotes from anyone too
obviously fishing.  This means that neither me nor my Reputation were
quoted at *all*.  Success!

Heading back to the punt hire place, we managed to choose a different
course from the way we'd arrived, thus allowing us to get lost on a
river.  This was impressive in and of itself, but more impressive was
just *how* long it took us to twig that we'd gone wrong.  I'll swear I
could smell the sea...

*After* asking the way back to Oxford from some rather confused
passers-by (who seemed, to my feverish brain to be dresses in sarongs,
of Native American extraction, and to be talking in a fluent Punjabi
dialect of Welsh -- just *how* lost were we?), we rejoined the others at
the Head of the River.

After that, it's just the common story of drink, talk, adjourn to a
different pub, eat, drink, talk etc. etc.


Other various high points of the day included Arthur being handcuffed to
a mobile phone, and Thomas flat on his back under the table.  But that's
not really a story for public consumption...

*************************************************************************

The Quotes -- if anyone wants to remember, add or invent some more, feel
free.

Stewart:  Peter's made me vibrate

AfPhantom:  I'm going to spend all weekend wincing when I shoot

Stewart:  did you have a white pussy you used to stroke?

AfPhantom:  the only time I want to spend 3/4 of an hour on my knees is 
not going to be in front of children

Stewart:  If I want a big one, I have to organise it 2 months in advance

Aņejo:  I don't like to actually do anything myself, I just like to lie 
back and let somebody else do it

Thorin:  If I have to wake up looking into Peter's face one more time, 
then I'm leaving afp entirely   

***********************************************************************

Looking forward to more of the same sort of meet in future,
Peter



[1]  In Australia, his punt pole warped in the sun and bent.  He threw
it away, and thus, young Padawan, the boomerang was invented

[2]  Ever wondered why Native Americans has a *pole* as their totem?


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