Depth through thought

OUCC News 23rd September 1992

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It's a bit difficult to know how to start DTT again after the long, for-many-people-caving-filled summer, now sadly rapidly being replaced by the short wet days of winter. It's sort of a push start really, because despite my pleas for people to write things on their caving experiences over the summer, nothing happened. Today, however, the ever organised David submitted a piece about the impending novice onslaught, about which he has thought, unlike most of us, well in advance of its actually happening and perhaps in time to do something (a fact that is perhaps as much a point in favour of his proposal as the arguments he outlines themselves). Since editorial policy is to publish whatever people submit, unless it contains the ward "accounting", I thought this constituted sufficient grounds for getting the new season of DTT started. Even if this one will be a bit of a ramble, perhaps it will serve to jog people into sending me stuff in the next few week..

What I'd like are articles on the expedition, your own perspective, or some cave you did. Lots of people didn't go on expedition, and many who did only did so for a short time, so it could be of interest. If you go on an exploration trip in Britain, or went on one recently, drop me a few lines about it (preferably on e-mail, though I can still read pencil and paper). Joan and Gavin drilled another 10 cm into Shepherd's hole on Cumnor hill this weekend (getting serious, this place), but what happened in Brown Hi11? Similarly, if you've been on a fun trip, do the same, specially if it involves something unusual, like your mum or a bathing hat. DTT might be a good place to thrash out politics (certainly better than interminable meetings), though as editor I may try and keep a "balance" between caving and accountancy (oh fuck, there's that word again). Perhaps someone would like to do a piece on the BCRA conference. for the interest of those who didn't go, or were too hungover on Sunday to attend any talks? New addresses, phone numbers, events, parties, or letters will all be valuable. So, contributions please.

However, despite my burst of enthusiasm, I'm afraid there will be no DTT next week, due to circumstances now beyond my control.

People News

Despite his aptitude for caving, Richard "loop-the-loop" Barnes did a Dave Bell and failed to please the Keble College Engineering tutors in Mods. Is there some co-incidence here? Sadly, he will be moving to other duties in Leeds (I think). Thanks to Richard for his enthusiasm during his brief spell as Club Secretary. The good news, though, is that Katya Reimann has some thingy at St. Hugh's this term, and is going to stand in as Secretary. Graham Naylor is also leaving Oxford, to take up a life of permanent caving and alpinism in Grenoble, France. Lucky bastard; thanks for the excellent farewell party last weekend. Paul Mann has managed some scam to live in Oxford this year (as an archaeologist), and at BCRA conference, a fairly large number of OUCC elected him next year's expedition leader despite his ludicrous moustache (well, you should have seen the opposition...). The BCRA also gave OUCC lots of photo competition prizes this year: Martin Hicks won the black and white section with his astounding pic of Just Awesome, and I won an FX5 and other goodies for a portfolio of pictures taken in Andalusia with Tony last Easter. Finally, Jenny Vernon announces that she has got black toenails after completing the Great North Run this weekend.

Novice season... A suggestion from Mr Monaghan

It's that time of year again, or soon will be, when we have to take lots of keen young freshers caving. This is the time when we have to be nice to people as we take them down Swildon's and to try to make money out of them to keep the club solvent for the rest of the year. These are both activities at which I have some experience, and you are probably aware that I have been proposing myself for the newly created, non-committee, post of novices officer.

Why should I be novices officer, and do we need one? Well there is actually no particular reason that I, rather than you, should be novices officer, what I think is important is that there is one. They will provide a friendly (??) face that can be the fount of all wisdom and will be the person to whom they pay their money and put their questions. This will mean that they will not get shunted from the meets secretary to the treasurer to whoever is around in order to get their name down on a trip and get information about it, and also that they will find that when they get to the hut on the day they go caving that the same face will be there, rather than a bunch of complete strangers. So that's why I think we need one: to provide a single point of reference for novices.

Why should I be novices officer? Well, I think it would be a good idea to have one, as I explained above, and I have not heard great cries from anyone else who wants the Job. I would also quite like to do it, because it will give me a chance to get the credit for some of the ideas that I want to try out (the ideas aren't all mine, I should point out). I would also (modestly) suggest that my financial acumen is well known, and thus, although I can't promise that the trips will make a profit (is that the same as surplus? - ed), I would hope to be able to explain why not.

So what are the ideas that I want to try out? This is, in effect my manifesto. Some are quite simple, and so I won't bore you with the details, but I assure you that they are not controversial (I think). I see only one controversial point, and that is that I would stop going to the Hunters on a Sunday, taking novices to the MNRC for a packed lunch instead. The argument goes like this: on a Saturday the Hunters is nice and quiet, and nervous novices can get to the bar, get their food and get a seat. The Americans can laugh at the faggots and we get out quickly and can get down the cave before the scouts. On a Sunday the pub is full of the BEC, nervous novices don't even get through the door, let alone reach the bar. It takes ages, we get out of the pub late, get out of the cave late and don't get back to Oxford until well past my bed time. An alternative is to go to the MNRC and sit round the fire, wolfing down a packed lunch (those who can't make their own will have one provided by OUCC plc for a reasonable fee...) and drinking free tea (provided by OUCC). It will be much quicker, and should mean that we are going down the cave hours earlier than if had been to the Hunters. So, I am not saying that we should not go to the Hunters at all, and in fact I think that it is rather nice on a Saturday morning, just that it is a bad plan to go a Sunday. If you think that this is a bad plan because you don't feel that a trip to the Mendips is complete without a trip to the Hunters this is no reason to abuse me or try to shoot the idea down in flames, all that you need to do is to come on the Saturday trips, if you don't care then come on Sunday (and Saturday) .

So that's it. Support me, and I will try to do a good job. If you disagree then tell me. If I get enough people saying that I shouldn't interfere then I won't, and the novice trips can continue in the chaos of last year.