Oxford Gathering Report

Look out Oxford -- Here we come!


Date: 4th April, 2004

Location: Oxford

Number of weird, confused, or just plain scared glances received: 300+

Somehow, with an opening like that, you can tell the PPC is involved.

We all met up some distance from the location we intended to. We had planned to gather around Tolkien's favourite tree, in the Oxford Botanical Gardens, but there was a slight hitch. Since my scouting mission back in February, the silly people had inconveniently decided to charge for entry. So that left me standing outside the gate holding up my sign and hoping to snare a few assassins.

All right, I admit it, I didn't actually hold the sign. I managed to get Raven Firedragon to do it. And she gave it to Puredeadthingy as soon as she arrived. But it sounded better.

Anyway. Imitating an airport worked, and eventually all six of us were there. And so, reassuring Armeniel's parents that we'd have her back by five, we set off.

And then it all started to go wrong. The group decided that they didn't want to pay attention to a self-appointed dictator wonderful me authority and my battle plan program, but instead wanted to eat. Now, being gullible easily influenced stupid the generous person I am, I agreed, and guided them to a cafe I knew of from my scouting mission. Not without a side trip to a shoe shop, but that wasn't my fault.

It wasn't!

Anyway. We ate, and the food was very nice. Well, the food was edible, at least. And we scared a couple of people out of the cafe. I should note that there were only four chairs in there, and we took them all.

Following that interlude, we went back to my plan. Along a road, up another, around a few corners, until we had almost reached University Parks.

Then someone noticed the Museum of Natural History. And we went to see. At which point I remembered my camera, went 'Ooh pretty dinosaurs', and started clicking:

Of course, we had to have pictures of the group, too. I tried to get out of it nobly sacrifice my chance to appear in the picture by taking it, but instead we accosted some innocent woman to take this:

From left to right, that's Huinesoron, Doc Filth, Raven Firedragon, Puredeadthingy, Anchusa, Armeniel.

The poor woman ran off after that. We never even got to take a photo of her.

We wandered the museum for a time, staring at all the skeletons. Specifically, at their sharp teeth. Well, what did you expect - we are assassins. Anyway, after a time someone recalled that there was an exhibit in the other half of the museum that featured sharp, pointy, shiny objects. This caused us to immediately rush to the connecting door - only to find that it was shut.

Now, normal people would have just left. Not us. Anchusa decided to ring the bell marked 'Please push for attention'. This immediately led to three of us - including myself - running off around the corner and pretending not to know her.

The exhibition opened some twenty minutes later. We went in, wandered a bit looking at jewellery and saying how Suvian it all was. We also looked at the shrunken heads, and laughed at the sign on the cabinet saying '1 from gift shop'. Alas, it referred to the audio tour.

Then we discovered that the sharp pointies were on the upper floor. Upon reaching that floor, PDT and I immediately ran down the entire gallery to where the lovely sharp pointy shiny weapons awaited us. None of the others ran. I don't think they're as dedicated as us.

No, no, I didn't mean it, please don't kill me.

We spent quite some time wandering that museum. We found a ring in one exhibit very similar to the One Ring, even down to tengwar-esque inscriptions. And got a lot more weird looks.

But eventually we had to leave. On the way out, we signed the guestbook, in our own inimitable way. I did take a photo, but it didn't come out too well...

From memory, then, we signed ourselves as 'PPC UK Gathering', and listed our complaints. These included the fact that we could not take the sharp pointies out of their cases, the fact that there were no shrunken heads available to buy, and a couple of other things that I can't remember because I thought I'd be able to look at the photo.

We moved on after that, and reached University Parks. There we scared a few more people, and found a very nice bridge. On which the group immediately impersonated Gandalf:

And Armeniel and I impersonated Gollum:

After this interlude, we finally reached the first point on my agenda - the bench dedicated to Tolkien. After scaring off a woman who had inconveniently sat there, we crowded on. And then we ate. We ate lembas, cookies and muffins, provided by Raven, PDT and Armeniel respectively. Lovely food - Armeniel claimed her muffins had gone wrong, but I couldn't tell.

Following our tradition (Set up only an hour or so before, but shh) we accosted a random stranger and got them to take our picture. Thus:

We moved on pretty quickly. Exiting the parks, we wandered over to see the pub where the Inklings, Tolkien's writing group, once met. Sadly, they weren't still there, and we didn't go in. Instead, I yielded to pressure from the others and went to buy coffee.

Well, I didn't have coffee. But some of them did. And we all sat and talked. And exchanged stories of strange things done at school. Because we're an odd lot, yes we are.

And then we moved on, and walked off to the Museum of the History of Science. And on the way we found a sign. And the sign did cause great mirth:

And we reached the museum, and rejoiced, for it was free. But alas, there was no guestbook, and we could not spam. But we looked, and found a few sharp pointies surgical instruments, and then...

In the basement, far from the light of day, we located something we had thought to be in PPC HQ - the Long Table Elrond.

Following which we were informed that we weren't allowed to use the flash in the museum. There weren't any signs, so I assume this is just their method of getting rid of people they don't like.

So off we went, and due to it almost being five o'clock we wandered back towards the Botanical Gardens. But, of course, I had to stop and take a photo of this shop:

And that's not a sign saying 'Narda Artwork' that I erased the 'N' from. Honest.

Anyway. We got back to the Gardens at exactly five o'clock. Literally. The big clock struck just as I stepped under the arch. How's that for timing?

Following that, we took more photos - one of the group, and one for each of us.

And then Armeniel left. And the Gathering proper ended. But there were still five of us left, and no one had to rush off. So we waited half an hour for my parents to show up and got them to shuttle us over to the last location on my agenda - Tolkien's grave.

There isn't really that much more to tell. We saw the grave, then all went home. So, as I end this report, I'll leave you with one final picture: The last resting place of the great Tolkien.

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