University of London Society of Change Ringers

Dorset Day Report 2009

The below account does not reflect the values and opinions of the UL and is generally a little politically incorrect, being the opinion of a diehard Dorset native.

My initial thought when the email hit my inbox was “Wow – a day dedicated to God’s own county, what a marvellous idea…” and not a thought was spared for those heathen members of the UL who do not worship the greatest of England’s districts. Instead I requisitioned the nearest telephone and heartily encouraged my brother, Jack, to visit on the day in question (foolishly forgetting the incestuous accusations that would result from the uncanny resemblance between Jack and Peter), on the promise of beer and good company. I do not doubt that he was left thinking “I cannot understand this visit – what does she mean?” My intention was this: to bring Dorset to the UL and ringing back to Jack.

The morning of the expedition dawned brightly, if slightly damply, and to the smell of scones. When afternoon came people began to gather on the green of Dorset Square – I say on the green, it was more of a gradual procession throughout which support was gathered from all four corners of the, erm, square. Although there was a large proportion of Dorset-ers, a number of converts we among the attendees: the brilliant lights and sooty shades which struggled upon the skin and clothes of the persons standing round caused their lineaments and general contours to be drawn with Dureresque vigour and dash. Far from the madding crowd Boris Johnson was spotted, taking refuge from these rustics in his four-by-four (probably wishing that he were off-roading across the rolling Dorset fields, not central London).

Now, alcohol had fuddled my recollection of the exact order of proceedings, yet I can recall that the direction of our walk was towards a pub selling the best of Ringwood Brewery’s beers (Ed. Perhaps you mean Badger..?). We settled to a pint and to the intellectual stimulus that was the Dorset Day Quiz; challenging our immense combined knowledge to the task of calculating the percentage of OAPs in Bournemouth, and the distance between Guy’s and Peter’s Dorset houses (personally I thought the latter was a bit easy). The grand finale required an illustration of the attributes of the Cerne Abbas Giant.

At the next pub (or was it the same one – I can’t remember) Guy revealed the answers, a sudden break-off in his utterances implied the application to his lips of a mug of beer. Undoubtedly the greatest amusement was supplied by the picture round; of which Dorset-by-night was my favourite.

The next pub required a short bus ride to Oxford Street (they really should rename it Dorchester Street…), during which time was productively spent eating scones, jam and cream on the top deck. I am surprised we didn’t get arrested for using a knife on a bus – or for generally looking a bit barmy. Clare joined us at the final pub, where, having drunk the pumps dry and turned in desperation to G&T, the decision was made to return homeward in the shady time of evening. The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all, and had the added bonus of hauling Jack back onto the ringing band wagon.

By Katy Pritchard, with rather a lot of help from Thomas Hardy!