Class War and the Boat Race

I don’t follow sport, but even I couldn’t not notice the carnage that accompanied this year’s Oxford and Cambridge boat race. Two teams from each university get in a canoe and have to row along the Thames – that’s how it normally works, right? Well, something went wrong this year. I had Twitter on in the background and apparently some guy jumped into the Thames and swam between the two boats in a kind of Occupy-style protest. The race had to be restarted and an Oxford bowman collapsed from exhaustion at the finish line. That kind of cast a shadow over the many unapologetic class hate comments I saw on Twitter.

Trenton Oldfield seems to be an attention seeker along the May-Bowles line and his blog is overwritten to the point of mania. In a manifesto two thousand words long Oldfield compared himself to the Suffragette Emily Davison and said that his stunt was ‘an act of civil disobedience, a methodology of refusing and resistance.’ I have to say, I’m getting sick of this ‘guerilla clown’ bullshit. Why can’t radicals attack politicians with pithy epigrams and satirical quatrains?

I’m linking to a blog piece by an Oxford graduate. We know each other but, by one of those weird social quirks, have never met, despite being close to the same people and moving in the same circles. I think he says something here about the ratcheting class tensions that have developed in our society during the 2010s.

The protester swam in the water, risking his life (nearly getting his head swiped clean off by an oxon oar) and halted the entire race. People were asking, what the hell is his deal? What is he protesting about? Why would he do this?… His problem is elitism, and I suppose there is of course an elitism to the boat race. But, funny thing, what about those who are at Oxford or Cambridge from humble beginnings, and are on the rowing team? Do any of those rowers seem particularly aristocratic to you? Alex Davidson, Dan Harvey, Alexander Woods, David Nelson, Michael Thorp – do these sound like the names of elitist poshos to you?

The concern I have here isn’t that the boat race was halted (thought that has rather put a crimp in my day), it’s the fucking ridiculous class war that inevitably has to accompany the race. If you watch the race you’re probably posh (because as we all know working class people aren’t allowed to understand the concept of a race that lasts less than half an hour between the same two teams year in, year out. A little too much to grasp, perhaps), if you went to Oxford or Cambridge, you’re probably posh. Sure. Oxbridge has more than its fair share of Edwards, Giles’ and Sebastians, but not everyone is walking around wearing a cunting top hat and using a whip with which to discipline their servants. So this elitism thing, that is now and always was bullshit.

Another thing bothering me is the outright lack of concern of our fallen player, rowing team bow man Dr. Alex Woods. He collapsed. He fucking COLLAPSED, and nobody seems to give a flying fuck because some guy with a beard and mild symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia decided to take a little swim in the water. FYI – I hear Dr. Woods is awake, conscious and sitting up, but it might have been so much worse. And I hope all of those tweeting that both teams ought to just sink to ‘get rid of a future Tory cabinet’ feel awful now (not that they will. Funny things are class wars. It’s fine to wish death on someone for being born into something rather than nothing, without knowing anything else about their lives. It’s fine).

How the fuck was that an emmental loop. (Image: Guardian)

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