Marcel Bülles, Brandyhall Smial, Germany
Well, well, well Oxonmoot of 1997 was a change after all. The move from University to Exeter College was a major improvement and the decision to have two separate rooms for entertainment and drinks was brilliant. But hey, let's not jump the gun.
After a long journey the arrival at Oxford was a pleasant event, especially with the magnificent weather. Though it is still more difficult to find a parking space on Broad Street on a Friday afternoon than reforming the United Nations, all went well and the friendly reception made up for the trouble. Registration and meeting old and new friends (where's my pint, lads?!) were a wonderful experience as every year. After dinner, several informal events awaited, including the Telerin Circle where Théoden seemed to be an all-time favourite, Ted Nasmith gave two fantastic guitar performances - some guys have all the luck: he can sing and draw a decent picture, too! - and Gollum was the last in the circle asking some riddles before we all disappeared into the dark.
Saturday morning, breakfast. Even though a representative of Brandy Hall Smial overslept and we only entered the Hall at five minutes to nine we were still ushered to our seats by a friendly lady and were helped to a delicious breakfast. Improvement number 1.
At the Smials' Forum many people turned up to give us an idea what was going on in all the TS smials. The Quiz followed once again, headed by 'Master of difficult questions' Angie Gardner, a mind-boggling competition leaving many prestigious contestants behind. Take part, it's a lot of fun and maybe you'll be able to win the Windmill again in the future.
Malcx's TS sales room this year was more spacious and put up with great care as usual, together with Daeron's Books and René van Rossenberg's Tolkienwinkel as precioussss additions to the sale. Improvement No. 2.
Priscilla welcomed us warmly, and not only the first-timers will have felt more at home afterwards. The buffet was marvellous and the friendly ladies from Exeter deserve a special mention here. Several talks and slide shows followed, for example, Len Sanford showing some awfully good and some awfully bad pictures set in Middle-earth. Whatever the quality, he always found something entertaining to say.
After some hurried shopping, walks through Oxford and some more books on Tolkien - oops, my chequebook's empty - the entertainments started. To have the events in the Main Hall and the drinks downstairs was a fabulous idea - improvement No. 3 - and as Kim, the Danish harpist said to me afterwards, the acoustics and the whole atmosphere were amazing. Thanks to all the helpers and the performers for doing another terrific job there!
I think all of us will agree with me that we haven't had so many fantastic entertainments in many a year. Not only the old goodies like Alex Lewis and Taruithorn were present but Ted Nasmith, Elena, a Russian guitarist and singer, Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, and Kim, the harpist working on music inspired by The Hobbit made this an evening to remember. Ted and Kim promised to try to come back next year and we will all be looking forward to hearing from them and all the others again.
on Sunday morning was filmed by a BBC team that seemed to lack the proverbial
luck with technology. Despite this we paid our respects and were treated to
a wonderful recital from Chris Crawshaw and of course the beautifully sung 'Namarië'
by Denis Bridoux.
Arriving at Exeter College on Friday evening I was directed to my suite! - a sitting room and bedroom, nice views over Oxford and the Quad - definitely not what I had expected. I quickly unpacked. Now for Registration! Or should I take a brew first? I must admit I was quite nervous about making my first trip to the bar (but not to be my last?).
Here I was at last, my first Oxonmoot. I walked around the quad heading for the bar - and I nearly walked around and back to my room?. I felt so nervous, thinking - what are the other TS members like? Will I fit in, will I like them, will they like me?, oh **** (Elbereth Gilthoniel). But the warmth that met me was unbelievable. Those in front of me were greeted with warm handshakes, hugs and kisses. It was just like a family reunion and after a few introductions I felt a part of the big happy family. I even received a couple of kisses, but that's another story for another time!
Saturday started with a variety of talks (and a slight hangover!) and discussions on various Tolkien related subjects, even down to possible influence on Babylon 5. Lunch was a grand reception, courtesy of Priscilla Tolkien. An awe-inspiring affair and yet another chance to meet more smiling friendly people. The afternoon was more talks and time for me to visit the Sales Room and the Art Show - I left them a few pounds lighter in pocket but totally satisfied with my purchases and overwhelmed by the knowledge and friendliness of all concerned. After a break for dinner it was time for 'The Party', another great event, with partying Elven and Dwarven Lords (and some Ladies - lady orcs?!!), Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, even a pair of Nazgûl and many other Tolkien characters, as well as lots of partying people! We were entertained by guitarists, a harpist and singers, all talented members of the TS there not only to entertain us but to enjoy themselves too, as they shared their talents to the cheers and applause for what was a most enjoyable evening.
Sunday saw a more sombre mood as we gathered for our visit of remembrance to the rest place of 'Lúthien and Beren', to lay wreaths on the grave of the man whose works had drawn us all together.
Now as I write this, I relive - for me - what was a great weekend full of mixed emotions from nervousness to excitement, joy, remembrance and sadness! I look forward with great anticipation and excitement to Oxonmoot '98, and I would like to offer a big thank you firstly, to the committee for organising the weekend and secondly to all who attended for being so friendly and accepting, not only me, but all the other first timers, into their exclusive club. See you all at Oxonmoot '98.
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