Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Naked Mile

This is the gate at the end of the driveway up to Harlaxton Manor.

Just inside the gate, you'll see this:
The long driveway with the castle waaaaaaaay in the distance.  A mile away.  (Just for the record, Alan disputes that it's actually a full mile.  But that's the conventional wisdom, and I'm going with it for now.)

Across the street from the main gate is The Gregory, a restaurant named for the man who built Harlaxton, Gregory Gregory. 

At one point in time, The Gregory was a main student hang-out (read: bar).  Which makes sense really -- the students are legal to drink at age 18 here, they don't have access to cars, a cab ride into Grantham costs six pounds.  Why not just walk to the end of the drive to get drunk.  And then, when the bar closes down, just walk (or stumble) back up the drive to their bedrooms.

Legend has it that sometimes alcohol would lower inhibitions, as it is apt to do, and the students would strip off all of their clothes and run the mile up to the manor.  And such was born the Naked Mile.  As one student put it, "The road to alcoholism is a mile long... and most of us run down it naked!" 

As a Baker student many years ago, even one who did not come to Harlaxton to study, I heard about the Naked Mile from friends who participated.  During the last several years, as Alan's faculty friends came over here, we continued to hear about the Naked Mile.  The bar across the street is no longer a student hang-out, however, so the Naked Mile has sort of changed into an event -- something to plan and do just for the sake of doing it, though I'm guessing it still usually involves alcohol.

I've been intrigued with the Naked Mile since we got here.  I keep asking around ("Are you going to do the Naked Mile?  Do you know anyone who has?  How many students do you think will do it?"), probably enough so that the students now think I'm creepy.  There's no "official" position on the Naked Mile from Harlaxton administration other than to not acknowledge it and to hope it goes away by itself.  (Heh.)

Anyway, I was determined to do the Naked Mile this semester.  With Alan and Cooper.  A family adventure!!  But there were a lot of details to sort out -- logistically, how do we get down to the end of the drive?  I don't really want to run TWO miles with Cooper.  Where do we stash our clothes?  Carry them with us?  Leave a change on the front steps of the manor?  And when should we attempt this?  In the dark, obviously, but when would we avoid traffic?  3:30am?  Or will the college students just be getting home then?  And we would have to wait until the weather gets warm so that it's not freezing cold during the night.  What about the closed circuit televisions all over the property?  Will the security guard monitoring those see us?  Will he turn us in to the Principal??

The planets aligned one night in March, and we went for it.  It was a long four-day weekend, which meant that nearly all the students and faculty were gone traveling.  I would guess there were 30 people at most at the manor that night.  We had a warm spell, so the night temperatures were up in the 50s.  And there wasn't a full moon, so except for lights on some buildings, it was pretty dark.

Feeling brave, we decided to try it just after midnight.  We didn't really want to wait until 3am, and we figured that with so few people around, we could get away with being out a little earlier.

So just after midnight, I woke Cooper up and promised him a really Fun! Secret! Family adventure!!  He wasn't convinced, but he did let me put on his shoes and carry him downstairs.  We had borrowed a stroller from Cooper's friend Jack, thinking that Coop probably wouldn't want to walk both directions.  But he was nervous enough on the way out that he didn't want to get in the stroller.

When we got to the gate, we explained the Really Fun! part of the Adventure!  "So now, we're all going to take our clothes off and run back up to the manor.  Won't that be fun and silly?!!" 

He was having none of it.  We at least talked him into getting into the stroller, though, so we could go quickly back up the drive.

Then Alan and I stripped down, put our clothes in a grocery bag, and ran for glory.  There aren't really many photos I can post here, though I will be honest and tell you that I was hoping I would have a cute picture of Cooper's little naked butt running down the drive.  Alas, no.  You'll have to make do with Alan's calves.

The lowest white dot, the one in the middle of the road in this photo:
is the reflector on the stroller that Coop's in, and the pale line to the right of that light is Alan!

When we got up to the castle gate, we put our clothes back on and walked into the manor like there's nothing odd about coming home sweaty and red-faced, carrying a stroller and a cold four-year-old at 1:15am.

We made the entire mile (or 0.8, or whatever Alan says it is) without seeing another person or vehicle.  Thank goodness.  Only the security cameras saw our Secret Family Adventure!

I ordered t-shirts to commemorate the event:


Brandon said...

You crack me up! Way to be brave! Work on Cooper. Maybe you'll have another chance! LOL

Anonymous said...

Now PLEASE do not give my husband any more ideas. It's a good thing we can't come visit you there. You guys are so brave! LOL

Rhonda said...

I can't wait til Cooper is much older and reads this blog. He will either be totally mortified....or think he has the coolest parents in the world! Love this!

Twila said...

okay...i'm thinking it's time you guys come home...!!!! Next thing you know there will be a Naked Mile in the boonies of Lyons (or some such obscure place)...!!!!!