Where did it all go wrong for…the weather?

first_imgRemember the last two weeks of April? Remember the cricket, the punting, and the blissful sunshine spilling out all over the quads? Remember the Met Office blithely telling us that it was the driest April since records began in 1659? Flash-forward to May, the only one of the summer months that falls entirely in Full Term, and gaze disconsolately over a stunning vista of grey on grey. That is, if you can see it at all through the driving rain and forbidding clouds. The only people more miserable than the punters, picnickers and cricketers, are the global warming theorists. Where did it all go wrong, indeed? There is, of course, an interesting point to be made here about how our expectations change. A British summer is the worst kind of oxymoron – the type that provokes wry laughter from foreigners and indeed, most natives. Whole years drifting by without a real cause for short sleeves haven’t exactly been unheard of. I think it’s only been the last couple of years when we’ve not only had real hot weather, but a lot of it. So rather than dropping everything and rushing out at the first rays of sun, we’ve gone steadily on in libraries and workplaces, safe in the knowledge that it will still be there at the end of the day. And that’s why, I suppose, people have been stomping around the streets of Oxford taking the rain as a very personal insult. “How dare you be raining?”, we ask the sky. Never mind that it’s early May in Britain, where’s the sun? This is perhaps compounded by the fact that the clothes people choose to wear always seem to depend on yesterday’s weather, rather than today’s. If it was sunny yesterday, people will be wearing T-shirts and shorts, cotton skirts and flip-flops, in scant disregard of the puddles. It always seems to take a couple of days before it really sinks into the collective consciousness that wellies are the way to go. It’s hard to be Little Miss Sunshine when you’re wearing a miniskirt while it’s five degrees.And, of course, Oxford is so very nice in the summer time. There are the traditional pursuits, already mentioned, of cricket, eating strawberries and cream and messing about on the river. But the simple, day-to-day course of life is also immeasurably better. It’s all in the details: the scent of flowers after dark, the intense colour of the sky, cobblestones baking in the sunshine warming your feet. It’s an old cliché, but it’s true, everyone really is much more cheerful. Total strangers smile at you and hold doors open. Even the people drifting past in sub fusc seem a tiny bit more serene. The only real disadvantage is that hot weather brings the tourists out en masse – hands up who’s had to dodge a Japanese-language tour taking up most of Broad Street – but it’s perhaps not too steep a price to pay for the glorious weather. Still, there are probably wonderful things to be said about rain, although it must be said that right at this moment I am at a loss beyond the decidedly Aristotelian “it makes the plants grow”. Perhaps there is some moody poetic beauty about the dreaming spires seen through a blurring mask of rain. Still, I’m not convinced. Any beauty there is palls after ten solid days of thick grey clouds and endless downpour. There’s only so far you can go to wring literary significance out of stormy weather. Ultimately, it all comes down to the decidedly unromantic feel of rainwater down your neck, cars whooshing past through six inches of dirty water, and a sudden need for paracetamol and cough syrup. In short, there’s nothing like rain for making everybody miserable.So I shall hurry to look on the bright side – no pun intended – and remind us all that it might just be improving. No longer must I run down Holywell Street with the Cambridge New History of India on my head because the heavens are opening in cacophonous fashion above. It’s been a gradual process. At the beginning of the week, the sun came out for twenty whole minutes and rumour has it that there were people seen engaging in sporting activity. Later on, this was followed by whole days of sun, and again, a renewed hope that maybe this time we could trust it would stay. I’m particularly enjoying the nights, at the moment. The heat of the day lingers, becomes deliciously cool and still, and it’s a joy to sit outside reading or having a picnic. Let’s hope that it stays, if not for good, or even long enough to develop an even tan, but long enough to dry out my umbrella and eat ice-cream without excessive need for self-justification. And, of course, long enough for the general mood of soporific misery to leave the city with the fog.But perhaps I have been a little too scathing about the rain. If we pause to consider the even brighter side, fifty years from now, whilst we all roll in battered wheelchairs across the dried, arid sands of the Greater South-eastern Deserts of England and Wales, watching salamanders loll in the baking sun, we can look back to the good old days at Oxford, when temperatures were not hot enough to melt lead, and occasionally, water even fell from the sky. Take your comfort where you can find it is the moral of the story, I guess. More importantly, take an umbrella, and sing in the rain while it lasts.Iona Sharmalast_img read more

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2021-05-03

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University wins award for campus event

first_imgJenny Di, director of the Political Student Assembly, accepted an award on behalf of USC for the school’s participation in National Voter Registration Day Tuesday morning at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting.“The L.A. County Board of Supervisors wanted to recognize USC because it’s an undergraduate university where the young people are a demographic which we target when it comes to elections either on a local or national level,” Di said. “This award will show that we are making great strides to engaging our whole campus in politics.”The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, along with other student political groups, all contributed to USC receiving the award.“They were leading the effort in voter registration and PSA along with the Black Student Assembly, the Undergraduate Student Government and a lot of different groups on campus sponsoring and co-hosting the registration event,” Di said.USC received this award for its continued political involvement, especially in regard to its emphasis on voter registration. Today, an event was held on campus in front of Tommy Trojan.“We know that there is a level of civic engagement on campus, and we wanted to tie that in to national voter registration and mobilization day,” said Mark Ridley-Thomas, supervisor of the second district in Los Angeles County. “We want to acknowledge those entities that can and should be involved in the life of our communities.”The presentation of the award took place at 9:30 a.m. as part of the meeting. Dean Logan, the  registrar-recorder and county clerk who organized the event, was responsible for giving the ceremonial scroll to USC through Di.“In the act of being registered voters, we all have the opportunity to influence and participate in our elections process,” Logan said.Unruh Institute Director Dan Schnur also presented the award to USG President Rini Sampath at the National Voter Registration Day event at Tommy Trojan several hours later, allowing students to see the prestigious recognition.Ridley-Thomas, who is also a USC alumnus, hopes that honoring the University will help reverse the trend of decreasing voter turnout.“[Recognizing USC] essentially puts a fine point on the fact that voter registration and voter turnout is down and acknowledging those entities that can and should be involved in the civic life of our communities,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We put a spotlight on motivated students, faculty, administration who want to say that Los Angeles has the highest concentration of voters in the entire state and can lead the nation. And what better way to do that than to acknowledge one of the premier institutions in our region to accomplish that.”last_img read more

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2020-09-17

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