Steele is in Oxford for a couple of weeks doing a course here affiliated with his law school (something about corporate governance — funny how opaque the specifics of a law education are to me, just like how my day to day research is pretty uninteresting to other people). We met up on Sunday, after he arrived and I showed him a few sights around Oxford before getting some lunch with Blanca and Matt. After that we played a little pick-up football and hit the Angel & Greyhound for a pint before I dropped him off at Teddy Hall, where his course was.
Today I offered to take him and some of his compatriots out punting. It's not easy to try to organise a group requiring two punts (there were nine of us in total) if only one person has any experience. I did my best to explain to the guys in the other punt how to go about it, but it really is best taught by somebody standing with you in the boat, not by shouting mildly helpful tips from upriver. Unfortunately one of the girls in my boat had a serious phobia of birds, which doesn't really go well with the punting experience, since flocks of tame ducks and geese swim right up to the boats, expecting food. This girl evidently grew up in a Manhattan apartment and as such had no particular appreciation for the outdoors.
I did my best to put on a happy face, though, and she should at least have been grateful that she was in the boat with a competent punter, since the other craft spent their first half hour or so spinning in circles. We made a miscalculation in divvying up the passengers, though, because two people in my boat did a commendable job of trying their hand at punting, whereas the other boat seemed to have a bit more trouble. Of course, people always get the hang of it after a little while and eventually we did make it upriver a short way. I saw two herons, which was a new experience and very cool (except for the girl who's afraid of birds — she predictably freaked out). Afterwards we walked through the University Parks and I left them at the Turf for a pint and headed back home.