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The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1926

The Procession

The Procession.

"An ancient writer," remarked Dr. Bumpus, "informs us that the geese of Pontus waxed fat on rank poison. Whatever degree of credibility we may attach to this statement, there is no doubt that it has some truth in analogy. I have in mind the curious occurrences of what is known as Capping Day, but which I think might more significantly be termed Foolscapping Day. These indicate that the pernicious doctrines which are taught by the misguided dons of our local University College serve but to accelerate the energies and enthusiasms of the innocent adolescents who absorb them. I have no patience, therefore, with the view that this preposterous festival is merely the traditional reaction from the intense intellectual preoccupations of the first three months of the College year. It seems to me rather that it is a product of those misdirections of the mind, the novelty of which so intoxicates the undergraduate that he imposes himself upon us as the self-appointed publicity agent of the higher education. Disclaiming all desire to appear captious, I cannot, page 15 then, but regard the aforesaid three months as presided over by those three familiar embodiments of irresponsibility—the March Hare, the April Fool, and the Mad Hatter. The last-named I consider peculiarly symbolic of Capping Day."

Had the dear Doctor been unkind, he might have gone on to say that he considered the Welfare League, the Rotary Club, and the Orphans' Night, as of much more value socially than the Procession. The truth is that it performs very much the same functions. It holds the mirror up to life and shows forth the essential significance of current events and tendencies; it increases the gaiety of the business community; and it entertains the people. Life is a sad affair; we might personify it as a sad dog. The Procession is, to a certain extent, the tale of the dog. And when the student, in his May madness, jumps over the moon, the laughter that goes up possibly proves that the majority is still in the nursery, but certainly proves that the student himself is of the people, for the people, and by the people. Which is a very democratic state of affairs.

As with 1925, the Carnival Procession took place in very benign weather. Punctually to the squeal of the noon whistle, in intellectual-looking constable, the looseness of whose waist-belt led us to suspect that he was not genuine, cleaned the traffic at the intersection of Ghuznee and Cuba Streets for the advance of the Gargle and Smotherum Band, and the visitation commenced to the inspiring and appropriate strains of "Come all ye faithful." The objects of adoration were a collection of animate Guy Fawkses arranged in more or less accurate representations of local incidents and institutions. Admiral Coontz and his gobs visited us once again, and were followed by the American classical novelist, Mr. Vain Bray, whose party captivated the crowd by the diversity of their methods of hooking unfortunate fish. Sea Scouts baled lustily. Bolsheviks bombed realistically. Edward P. and another cowboy who rejoiced in the name of Coatesoffski and looked like one Charles Chaplin (a famous beauty actor) gave thrilling displays of horsemanship. The close secrets of certain industries, such as cake-baking, bag-washing, and taxi-driving, were heartlessly revealed to the multitude. The retirement of a legal magnate and the non-retirement of a lady politician were commemorated, and a bevy of beautiful damsels uniformed in the Sinn Fein frocks of a well-known educational establishment sang their way enchantingly through the easier multiplication tables. More or less delicate and artistic treatment was accorded a number of other subjects, and the populace howled at them all.

Capping Processions usually degenerate en route, mainly under the impulsion of the depraved thirsts which appear to afflict many students on such occasions, but in this case good organisation maintained the ranks unbroken to the end. The onlookers were not irritated by any of the silly sorties of other years; and the beer mug (a person, not a thing) was, if at all present, decently inconspicuous. A large and expectant throng gathered in the time-hallowed precincts of the G.P.O. to pick up the customary pearls of wisdom, but very few could hear the speeches. A superior form of humour was provided by throwing the results of Mr. Vain Bray's sportsmanship about. The crowd page 16 took part in this with zest and enjoyed itself immensely. The exchange of compliments ceased about half-past one, and the dispersal of the artists proved quite as entertaining as the main show.

On the whole, the procession was a respectable affair, quite orderly in its disorder, and very well managed—a distinct advance on the recent past.