Uncle A Solves Banter Bother

This week, Uncle A dispenses wisdom on that most elusive of social skills: banter

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Dear A,

I am a fresher. I have lived on a farm for my entire life and was home-schooled by my mother. We are very close. Since arriving in Cambridge I’ve been completely baffled by social interaction between the men here. They seem to hate each other, and yet they often do things like remove their shirts and hug on a nightclub dancefloor to ‘Sex on Fire’. In my community we would never do things like this. However, I desperately want to fit in. I have resolved to work on my approach to social contact, because my embraces have been repeatedly rebuffed and I want to be a Redboy. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Bemused regards,

Hamishtheamish1008 (online)

Dear Hamishtheamish1008,

Sounds to me like you’re talking about banter! Banter is a form of abuse which will gain you friends. In boys’ schools it is also a useful way to defuse sexual tension. Popular blokes tend to use the words ‘banter’ and ‘conversation’ interchangeably.

People who are good at banter tend to be in sports teams and drink lots of beer. Start going to the gym regularly and avoid being seen buying Archers and lemonade at Spoons next time you go. Avoid straws, unless they help you down a bottle of wine faster, and remember: if it tastes good, it’s to be avoided like the plague.

It is often a good idea to give people a bit of a slap after you say things. This often gives the impression that when you just called the person next to you a cunt, you were doing it in a very jokey way. Be advised that this is for advanced users only, as much can go wrong. It is imperative that you open your hand when you slap them, and that you avoid the face and the gonads. This is because, south of Birmingham, grievous bodily harm is not widely regarded as a form of banter.

It is not a waste of time to work on your lying skills. Little to no banter is based on truth. The best lies involve bodily fluids or pain, and the truly great ones combine the two. Don’t forget that you can also stretch the truth. It is often prudent to take a banal story about, say, walking the dog, and turn it into an anecdote about a romping underground bestiality orgy. Banterous people (or ‘lads’) will lap it up and shout abuse at you, probably involving the word ‘knobhead’. Do not be disheartened – this is the truest sign of affection!

Stretching other people’s words is a particularly popular form of banter and is often known as ‘chat’. The watchword here is extrapolation. Just take a simple statement from someone, like, “actually, I didn’t get with anyone at Life last night, due to my persistent failure to clamp and grind anything with a pair of breasts” and convert it into, “I am a massive gay who subscribes to Cock Weekly magazine”. This will supply limitless fun because once anyone has a reputation for anything, it can never be shaken.

Brush up on your sexism. Having banter and being respectful to women are mutually exclusive. It is important to understand that women are different from you, and that you should mock them for it. This can be hilarious – just imagine a woman walking in while you’re trying to watch the game with the lads, and asking, ‘what’s on the telly?’ Replying, ‘dust’ will get you massive banter respect and possibly a bruise or two (a good thing- see previous tips on ‘slapping’).

People who are bitter about being bad at banter tend to whine about it not being ‘witty’ and that ‘nothing is actually communicated’. They are objectively wrong, as it is a fact that the highest form of wit is being able to turn any comment by anyone into a joke about their mother. Many of these whiners are often seen refusing consultancy jobs, being vegetarian and writing features for the Tab.

All the best,

Illustration by Amy Munro-Faure