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Cambridge, Oxford And A Race For Water Supremacy
Originally published on Sun April 8, 2012 9:07 am
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The annual Oxford-Cambridge University boat race took place in London yesterday. And reporter Vicki Barker was one of those throwing a party along the race route. For boat race party-throwers and the oarsmen themselves, the day unfolds with military precision - or at least it's supposed to. Vicki Barker has more.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: The man duck saw that something needed to be done...
VICKI BARKER, BYLINE: Kitchen, 11 A.M.: boat race minus three hours and fifteen minutes. Preparations begin. Right, tea sandwich - white bread that you've taken a rolling pin to so it gets thinned a little bit. Butter. Apply smoked salmon. Scissor or tear some dill. Slice off the crusts. Make two diagonal slices to make four tea sandwiches. Done. 11:45 A.M.:
(SOUNDBITE OF ICE BEING POURED INTO BUCKET)
BARKER: Ice poured into ice buckets. 1:05 P.M.: guests arrive.
CHARLES KINGSMILL: My name is Charles, Charles Kingsmill. Lovely to be here at this lovely party to celebrate the forthcoming victory by Oxford this afternoon in the boat race.
JANE: I'm Jane, and clearly Cambridge is going to win.
BARKER: I see. So, this is one of those mixed marriages.
JANE: Yes, yes, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Go.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: And the 158th boat race is underway.
BARKER: 2:15 p.m.: Zero hour. Guests run out into the riverside garden as the boats, led by Oxford, surge by.
(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE CHEERING)
BARKER: Then run back to watch the rest on TV. But the race has been stopped.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Because somebody swam across the river to stop the race.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: This is unheard of. Shocking stuff.
BARKER: The aquatic protester removed, the race eventually restarts, then...
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Oh, he's lost an oar.
BARKER: ...disaster for the Oxford men, as the umpire refuses to halt the race.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: It's victory for Cambridge. Victory...
BARKER: Oxford's ordeal isn't over yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Some guy just went unconscious in the back of the boat and then they lifted him out (unintelligible).
BARKER: 4:00 P.M.: the ailing Oxford oarsman is held for observation overnight. The post-race award ceremony is cancelled and party guest Patrick Howse is philosophical about the chaos that's come to a British sporting icon.
PATRICK HOWSE: I think we just sort of accept this sort of thing as an inevitable consequence of being English, really.
BARKER: Or, as the English are fond of saying: mustn't grumble.
(SOUNDBITE OF CORK POPPING)
BARKER: For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.