Oxford University Cave Club

Proceedings 10 : "Pozu del Xitu"

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After the Ball (or rather the Expedition Dinner) was Over

by Clive Westlake

The Junior Dean stands in the middle, his heavies round about, Andy negotiates. I note a singular absence of other cavers, so contemplate the floor where all I see is a singular excess of the port I spilled some time ago. The negotiations reach a paroxysm of gesture and incomprehensibility whilst I consider my woeful inadequacy in coping with celebrating Oxford cavers. Little more than a year ago the same Andy led me out of Vézelay, past the gendarmerie garden and the ritual urination, then all was crumpling flysheet and earnestly repeated gasps of "Riley's buggered the tent, Riley's buggered the tent!" whilst I made resolute attempts to enter the foot end of my sleeping bag...

...But, lo, we have a keg - have these negotiations succeeded? No, the keg is empty, but the ever resourceful Andy decants from another one, while I try to focus my brain on some recent news story about a gang stealing aluminium kegs then melting them down. Of course Andy is a metallurgist. The junior dean indicates we should leave. Andy takes one end of the keg, I the other and we leave.

"Let's go to John's"

"Yes," I reply, encouraged by this convincing evidence that he knows where he is, where he is going and the route in between.

This journey may have been within the powers of able-bodied men, but we are not able-bodied and after some hundred metres of erratic progress Andy decrees, "Let's throw it all over this wall!"

"Yes," I reply, again impressed with the ambition of youth, though rather less impressed with 'this wall' which is about the height of the Pilling Slip and much solider.


The keg performs a somewhat inebriate parabola, hits the mid-height of the wall, bounces off, bounces on my head and rolls off down the street. We roll dutifully after it. My brain begins to hurt very badly indeed but Andy is negotiating again. As usual tonight I cannot understand but lean against the wall which conveniently is still standing. Then all is simple: we have no keg and we are going to John's, Andy leading in a determined zig-zag. Where is the keg? Where is John's? Where am I? Why is my head larger on one side than the other? Why did I ever join this Xitu trip???