133 Blue Bottles on the Wall!

Every year, we celebrate the school’s birthday at sit-down. It is always an event, with the whole school crammed into the Dining Hall and the Webb Marshall room below, everyone bubbling over the always highly anticipated ice cream cakes for dessert. However, this year I was all the more excited for sit-down because as a Fifth Former I got to sing “Blue Bottles” with my entire form to the Sixth Form. This Groton tradition is ages old and it’s one I’ve personally looked forward to ever since Second Form.

I’m not even a particularly huge fan of sit-down, but this was one I am sure to remember for quite a while. For starters, sit-down was held in the gym to comfortably accommodate everyone. Secondly, we sat by advisory groups, which was very nice because I love my advisor and advisory. Also sometimes sit-down can be awkward if the table chemistry is off, and it was nice to not have to worry about that. Thirdly, the food was stellar. Lastly, we sang “Blue Bottles”!! As people started to clear their plates, I started to anticipate the moment when the Sixth Form would go above to the indoor track to yell, “We want ‘Blue Bottles’!” At that time, the Fifth Form was to gather on the bleachers in front of the rest of the school sitting down to sing (read: yell) the song.

The form had practiced the song once the week prior, but I have to admit that we were not very in sync. I was on the front row, directly center, in front of Mr. Bannard, who was conducting with a huge knife (another wacky tradition). We started the tune way way way too fast. The way it works is that you count down from “133 blue bottles hanging on the wall,” then one hundred, then fifty, twenty-five, fifteen, ten, then by one until you reach “no blue bottles hanging on the wall,” increasing your tempo and noise level as you go. However, we started at too fast a pace. (I say too fast, but I was very enthusiastic and honestly part of the problem myself). By the time we reached “ten blue bottles hanging on the wall” we were simply screeching, also might I add, banging on the floor with our feet as well as clapping in time. Put simply, it was the highlight of my fall term.

After the song was over, I left the bleachers in a daze and on Cloud 9. I was so happy. Sometimes I think it’s hard for other students to relate to my excitement, but when you’ve been at Groton since Second Form and you finally get to do the traditions you’ve seen the classes ahead of you do for three years now—the feeling is incomparable to anything else. Singing “Blue Bottles” was for me the official sign that I am in Fifth Form, and I honestly couldn’t be happier about that fact (even though there was not ice cream cake for every table).