Postcard from Rag Week

A lifetime ago I was Rag Chairman at Lancaster University in the UK. For most people two words there need explaining. At the time, UK Universities raised money for charity with things like a raffle, crazy events and a big dance. For some reason the week during which most of these events happen is called "Rag Week", the group of loonies who organise it all is the "Rag Committee" and the boss is the "Rag Chairman". Put it down to English eccentricity if you will.

So, what did we do, and how much did we raise?

We had a parade with floats and collected money from the crowd in Lancaster; we had a three-legged pub crawl round the town; we pretended to find a Russian satellite in Morecombe Bay and two of my friends almost drowned; someone built a pedal powered plane and tried to break the human powered flight record; we wanted to kidnap and ransome Clodagh Rogers but couldn't find her agent; we wanted an up-market cheese and wine evening but the only person likely to make a profit was the local booze shop, so we cancelled; we had a mock sacrifice on campus without telling the victim first; we collected every empty milk bottle on campus and put them in the main square, and we had a Mars bar eating competition.

You know, the usual stuff.

In the end, we raised one pound for each student at the university, and that was the same result as every other university in the country at the time. So, £ 3,500. In spite of the stress, it was one of the most enjoyable things I've done.


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