Freshers 2011: Cambridge A-Z, Part 2

Things get messy in part two as we visit Kambar, Life and, of course, the Mahal.

| UPDATED Cambridge Cambridge University Freshers Freshers Week freshers week 2011 Internet JCR jcr committee Kambar krumping Life Lola Lo Mahal Natsci oxford university Porter

On Thursday, The Tab taught you your A-H. But you’re going to be a Cambridge student, and that level of literacy is frankly embarrassing. Today: I-P. If you missed A-H, click here to catch up.

I is for Internet: The Internet is a scourge to the 21st century student. It makes it easy to do the reading for essays, and makes it far too easy to plaigiarise. Where once you might have read a chapter and then written your essay based on the knowledge you gleaned – being informed by the source, rather than lifting from it – now it is all too easy to cut and paste. Where once, when doing said essay research, you would have had other reference books open, now it is far too easy to have iPlayer, 4OD and YouTube open in the other tabs. Where once, you would have gone out and found a real girl to shag, now it is all too easy to find an online alternative on YouPorn, or The Tab’s favourite online sweetheart, Ariane.

Ariane: she’s well fit

Saying that, no one I asked was quite sure about browser history: is the University Computing Service taking a note of everytime you consume illicit material? Oxford, ever a killjoy, has banned students from using Spotify, so The Tab would hate to think what they do to those found cruising the web’s seedy underbelly. We invisage a Miss Trunchbull-esque ‘chokey’. Tab tip? Delete your history – it’s always embarrassing when a new friend tries to log onto Facebook and the laptop Mummy and Daddy bought you helpfully predicts something else starting with F and ending with K.

And please, sign out of Facebook. Facebook rape – and never call it ‘frape’ – is acutely trying on the patience of my poor News Feed. While we are not sufficiently gullible as to assume that “X loves the cock!!!!”, accompanied by your new profile picture – a massive dildo being inserted up a willing arsehole – is actually your way of coming out, we are sufficiently judgemental as to wish you to fuck off and make a mental note to lower you in our estimation, fresher.

And while we’re at it, become a fan of The Tab on Facebook here.

J is for JCR Committee (or Junior Combination Room Committee): Our intelligence tell us that every undergraduate member of a college is automatically part of the JCR. The JCR is just a common room, but the committee is a collection of students who call the shots in college. As students, the time has not yet come to buy Zegna suits and swan about the Gherkin with a clipboard, so we have to find other ways to feel important. A good way to do this is indeed to join the JCR Committee. Here there are various roles vying for your involvement. These range from the responsible ‘Welfare Officer’ (in this case your main task is to dish out condoms to people who are either pretending to be sexually active or are partial to the odd posh wank) to ‘Ents Officer’ where you will be arranging the entertainment for your peers. We hear this is a good job if you enjoy ego boosts from satisfied and therefore complimentary drunks.

Being part of the JCR committee also usually means that a photo of you is pinned up on a notice board somewhere near your college bar. This is wonderful, as you can point it out to visiting aunts and uncles who will then leave jammily content thinking that you have become a local big cheese. If you show it to your mother, she might buy you a coke!

K is for Kambar: Now here’s something a little bit special: no light up dance floor in sight, and the toilet trough is made of porcelain. Slightly too cool for school? Then take your elvis quiff, your Topman boxers and your skinny jeans to Kambar. All drinks are served in beige plastic cups, which gives the bar that wonderful ‘grown up tuck shop’ feel, and will be served, generally speaking, with a toothy grin.

Too cool for school?

Kambar realises that peas, even if in the same pod, are not all the same. There are therefore evenings to suit all needs and desires: LGBT, RnB, Indie, etc. All of these nights are also designed to make you feel cultural, so if your high-brow buds have taken a battering after a week’s double Cindies (see C), this is probably the best place to end up. There’s also a cushioned area upstairs which is a great place to safely store your paralytic other half (imagine a human cloakroom) before you yourself are ready to leave.

L could stand for Life or Lola Lo, but Lola Lo is new and getting plenty of column inches, so let’s start with Life. If you like pigs, you’ll love Life: the dance floor is a bit like a very hot farm, and there are troughs in the toilets. Essentially a subterranean pit of sweat and post-swap, pre-bed rutting, it costs £4.50 to get in and you’ll spend most of your time in the outdoor bin-area, gasping for air, like a mackerel freshly snatched from its watery home. Or, you could go on a Thursday and pay just £3 with a Big Fish Ents ticket… just saying. You could spend up to 48 nights a year here. At most, five of these will be excellent. Ironically for a club named after the God given gift of existence, one or two will make you wish you’d never been born.

Photograph by Siana Bangura

Lola Lo is a bit different. There are still troughs in the toilets, but these ones are accompanied by some of those big, stone heads from Easter Island – how special is that!!? A cyber commute to Wikipedia tells me these heads are officially called ‘Moai’. A light-up dance floor means that the bottoms of your shoes finally get the spotlight they deserve, and the third-floor smoking terrace (complete with magically disappearing ceiling) will take any seasoned Shagaluf frequenter back to the good old days. Positively tropical.

M is for Mahal: A ‘swap’ rite-of-passage experience, The Mahal is a glorious and grotesque cavern of curry and bad behaviour. It is unlikely that you will end up putting much of your set meal curry into your mouth, as you will be too busy picking rice out of your eyebrows, wringing wine out of your hair and puking into your lap. At £12 a head it won’t break the bank. After all, this curry conveyor-belt is a Cambridge institution, and should be honoured as such. At The Mahal, pretty much anything goes. This includes napping at the table and standing on chairs to sling insults at anyone from St John’s (that one’s obligatory).

If we’ve still not sold it to you, it’s a real time saver. You’ll be in, hammered, splattered in bhuna, and out again in under an hour, so it’s not like you’re wasting time that could otherwise be spent doing useful shit, like watching X Factor or reading synopses of your set-texts online.

Debris at the Mahal

N is for NatSci: People are lazy and time is short, which explains the struggle to wrap lips, rendered dry and joyless through excessive Fresher’s Week chat and over-zealous pulling, around more than two syllables of a single description. For example, Porter’s Lodge becomes ‘Plodge’. People don’t even bother vomiting properly anymore; it’s just a big pile of ‘vom’. This vogue for arbitrary reduction means that ‘Natural Scientists’ are rendered ‘NatScis’, thoughtlessly leaving them at risk of junk mail from nudist winter sports companies.

NatScis cycle very quickly whilst wearing practical clothing. During games of Guitar Hero, NatScis will often hold their instrument as though it is a genuine guitar, and take the game extremely seriously. NatScis always brush their teeth before bed.

O is for Oxford, or The Other Place: Soz, Oxford, but we are loads better than you in lots of ways: we are the happiest and the bestest and our blue is a buffer shade than yours. Our girls are probably have bigger boobs and daintier feet and your boys can probably drink less pints and have more social problems than ours.

Oxbridge rivalry is obligatory. Yes, it’s puerile, but you’d better get used to it, even though it is the oldest form of wit. Oxford slagging gets more intense around Varsity fixtures (See V) – with the rugby and the boat race being two of the biggest.


TabTV at this year’s boat race

P is for Porter: If the porters haven’t seen everything, then they will have heard about it. The Porters are like Mrs Norris. It is very important that you are kind to your porters – firstly, because it is very rude to disrespect anyone in uniform (you wouldn’t flick Vs at a lollipop lady, would you?), and secondly, because they’re the ones who will get you deaned by reporting on any bad behaviour. Oh, and thirdly, they are actually really useful for everything: they will change your fivers for the washing machine, give you a new lightbulb, and help you out if your bike gets jacked.

The porters do not like it when you steal the communal pens from the signing-in book, neglect to invite them to gatherings in your bedroom, or start fires in the library. So don’t.

Befriend your porters

Also, remember, porters are like elephants when it comes to information retention. If you come home drunk and have to be taken back to your room in the wheelchair they keep round the back, then do not wear the leaver’s hoodie with your name on it for a good couple of weeks. In fact, never again. Burn it.

Come back on Monday for the last installment of The Tab‘s Cambridge A-Z.