No Sex Please, We’re at Cambridge

ED CUMMING on why we should be laughing rather than lamenting when our neighbours vocalise their bestial bedroom passions.

Booze Hell monastery Neighbours Newnham Sex Sparta

Only at Cambridge, nerdiest of all the land’s universities, would people be so startled by the concept of bonking that, on first contact with it, their response is to complain. Has anyone, except possibly the fathers of young daughters, ever really been offended by the sound of sex? Mystified, certainly. Aroused, in the case of some of the dustier Mathematicians, probably. But 99% of the time, surely the overriding response to these sounds is amusement? On the few (though admittedly infinitely more frequent than the times I was the disturber), occasions I was disturbed, I remember chuckling with astonishment (and once not a little fear for the integrity of the ceiling), and then going back to sleep.
Yet last week’s complaining Newnham students have been beamed around the world, with all the restraint editors are famed for concerning Oxbridge and sex. One wonders just who the complainants were. Everyone who’s read a national paper in the past year knows that there are only two sorts of Newnham students: slags and prudish student-union apologist frigideuses. One always suspects the latter, poring over law textbooks while resenting the intoxicated merriment of their wonky-laced peers, but it could just as easily be the former. Hell, after all, hath no fury like a woman scorned for her more pliable next-door neighbour.
Some of my merrier anecdotes of university involve people overhearing one another in flagrante. It stands to reason. After all, unless you’re in some of the more progressive parts of the armed services, or a frankly liberal monastery, you will never again be living in such close quarters with so many highly sexually charged individuals. The constant stream of new people, the free-flowing supply of booze and the irregular timetable are a godsend for the experimental.

I remember one night I was obliged to stay in and finish (also begin, who am I kidding?) an essay. At about six I waved off my usually shy neighbour, who was dressed – for reasons known only to himself – as a classical Greek warrior. I heard not a peep more until two in the morning, when I was shaken by a very loud, very sudden thud not unlike the sound of a corpse being dropped through a drum, a kittenish squeal, and the roar of my neighbour, emboldened as never before: “This is Spartaaaaa”.
Ah, the benefits of a classical education. Wouldn’t have happened at Hull.