Books: The Crystal Bucket : Tragic finish |
[Invisible line of text as temporary way to expand content column justified text width to hit margins on most viewports, simply for improved display stability in the interval between column creation and loading]

Tragic finish

According to Grandstand (BBC1), Cambridge’s sinking in the Boat Race was the biggest Easter tragedy in two thousand years.

Everything began normally with Oxford stroking along to their usual win, Cambridge on their way to oblivion and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ still likely to be the chief media talking-point over the weekend. But then tragedy struck. It struck gradually. First less and less of Cambridge’s frail shell was showing above the choppy water, and then none at all, leaving the crew still rowing staunchly away but going nowhere except downwards. The commentator did his best to prepare us for our coming bereavement.

‘It could be a sinking ... yes it is ... they’ve gone into the dolphin effect ...’ (There was no time to explain the dolphin effect. I suppose that when dolphins get into trouble they go into the Cambridge effect.) ‘And now it’s panic ... unbelievable how they could go down so quickly ... they’re all still alive ... what a tragic finish ...’

Particularly impressive at this point was the way in which several of the Cambridge crew refused to give up, but went on rowing even though nothing still protruded from the water except their heads and shoulders. ‘Unbelievable ... what drama we’ve had ... I’d like to see them get aboard and safe ... that water is cold ...’

Finally even the most determined crew-members latched onto the fact that their chance of completing the race was now slight. ‘One or two grins ... maybe because they’re enjoying this ... let’s go back to Oxford, because as far as they’re concerned the race is still on ... and here are Oxford, triumphant Oxford, not quite a hollow victory...’

It seemed to be all over. ‘Scenes of jubilation at the finish line ... 1951 was the last sinking, when Oxford sank ... this time it was Cambridge ... tragic ...’ But then the action replays started. ‘Let’s have another look at how this all ended ... in slow motion this time ... they were doomed from this moment ...’

2 April, 1978