We started off at 10 with champagne and strawberries. Having moths on my mind so recently, I was reminded of their flightiness and colour all the lovely frocks. There was the elegance of vintage eau de nil lace.
The imperial decadence of deep plum silk with sequins and freckles applique.
And ribbons and bows of all colours, shapes and sizes..
Last year, my son came along to the May Ball. He described it as Disneyland for grown-ups. There is a fairy story quality to the setting, the buildings, the frocks, the excess. You would not take a second look if Cinderalla turned up; or Le Grand Meaulnes. You cannot avoid going along with the exuberance of it all.
Just before 11 we watched the firework display accompanied by suitably rousing music.
We thought about going punting as we crossed Kitchen Bridge but decided it was too cold. The abandoned glasses gave us another idea...
By midnight we were drinking Passionfruit Martinis and eating fish and chips in a replica Orient Express carriage We visited the casino for more chips (different kind) - you play to lose, you know - but fortunately there was no money involved here.
At 1 we were watching the Lindy Hoppers and Salsa dancers in the warmth of the hall. With a Pimms. Woops, missed Dizzee Rascal.
By 2, we thought we should mooch around a bit - it's cold out there on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens.
We thought the fire troupe might offer some warmth, but watching the dodgems proved much more entertaining. We were too lazy to queue ourselves, but watching the faces of the drivers more than compensated.
At 3 we were drinking tea in the Turkish tent and were surprised that the sky was already changing colour. we tried to get a massage in the Pamper Room -full of bewitched sleeping people- but they were fully booked.
By 4 we were back in Hall to watch the infectious energy of the tap dancers, then the chaos of the Ceilidh. Tea with a small shot of whiskey seemed about right to stave off the cold light of dawn.
A bacon roll set us up at 5 to prepare for the journey home. That morning light can be a bit cruel - we were all looking a bit pale and tired and ready for our beds. This was my final shot of St John's.
Walking to the car park, there were plenty of faded people, young men with their ties askew, the more gallant in shirt sleeves because they had surrendered their jackets to warm up party girls in their creased and rumpled gowns. By 7 I was home and able to put my feet up before climbing into bed for a three hour snooze.
This is our last May Ball because Rose is moving on. We wouldn't have been able to go without her. It's been a delight...and even though I feel guilty about them, that includes the new shoes.
PS. I have just been told by young John how jealous he is that we had the opportunity to see Dizzee Rascal (who is a local boy, by the way) and Shy FX and wasted it. There we are, then. I've been posting pictures of shoes, frocks and fireworks and I've ignored the opportunity to see a groundbreaking urban talents. What can I say? Oh dear, pass me another cup of tea.