Parvizi Swaps: Pembroke vs. Newnham

Our resident food critic avoids being labelled a paedo during a relatively civillised evening of intergenerational swapping.

Drinking Newnham Paedo Parvizi Pembroke Rapey Swap

They say opposites attract and when it comes to magnetic poles they’re right but it rarely happens outside the laws of physics; when was the last time you heard of a cop dating a robber? A rugby blue dating a mathmo with a fantastic personality? And even Disney couldn’t get that Gallic hunchback away from his tiresome bells and into Esmeralda’s pants. But a gutsy group of swappers decided to put it to the test with an event that brought together two groups from either end of the tripos: Pembroke graduate males and Newnham undergraduate freshers, average age for the men 23, girls 18, a battle of 1986 vs. 1992, Thatcher vs. Major, Wham! vs. George Michael.

I clearly remember the Barcelona Olympics; the girls in some part of the human gestation cycle. Never mind, a swap was organised and a swap was to be had. Now of course being graduate students, and including within our fold an occasional supervisor, we had grandiose plans to wine and dine our female guests. Drinks were to be had at Trinity Vaults, after which we would progress onto formal hall, however the girls bailed on part I of the evening and seven suited men were left hovering around a bar like off-cuts after a night with the Peterhouse Adonians. Certain rules were self-imposed, no discussion of politics and certainly no in-depth one-way discussions (lectures) about our research topics. As sexy as the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement was in our minds it would have to be sacrificed for the possibility of a return swap.

We met in the Pembroke bar, where in spite of the age difference and the girls’ previous disastrous visit all went very well. Awkward introductions were avoided and by the time the starters arrived everyone seemed in good spirits. Now generally at such events there’s extensive pennying et al, yet ‘saving the Queen’ merely peppered the night’s festivities; “Well I’m looking into neo-classical philosophy in conservative politics” penny that fraud. However as the night continued and the wine flowed the conversation turned rather spicier “Well I’ve done it in Market Sq…”, a resident theologian cracked out the classic you’ve been running round my head all day gambit and one of our number was christened “rapey —“. With dessert came open dissent, a true sign of a successful swap. “If you penny her with a five pence piece she’ll have to scoff her dessert without using her hands” the girl to my left informed me, whilst our very own Bavarian knight had decided to take down our Hong Kong boy by playing penetrative psychological games (sans saving the Queen), which resulted in a very angry and inebriated Chinaman.

Post dinner the men played their trump card – the graduate parlour. “Rapey” as he’s now known had rallied the troops earlier and informed them that keeping the girls post dinner is always the toughest part of the night, a strategy emulating John Terry’s changing room pep talks no doubt. Bombshells had already been dropped “Well my girlfriend at…” “My boyfriend…” but instead of demolishing the night the swap survived and thrived this blitz of fidelity, though the singletons were gutted, sold out by their peers. Some of the girls had fresher boyfriends at Pembroke, who were invited into the parlour much to “rapey’s” chagrin, but left the rest of us feeling rather nostalgic looking back at our own first year frissons being played out in front of us. Some ladies never ceased to remind us of our age adding the adage “you’re nowhere near as bad as we imagined”, whilst another turned the dinner into a whole meet the parents scenario, being sat next to her boyfriend’s college father. 
For the hardcore a night in Cindies was on the cards, where the night became memorable for its sheer lack of latter recollection. Yet this swap was overwhelmingly a success, for the men labels of “paedo” avoided, the girls were treated to a night of good chat, lack of curried dresses, espresso martinis and their boyfriends called to take them home as opposed to the customary emergency services.

Rating: ***1/2

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