Drugged up Cambridge?

Pass the opium? Performance-enhancing drugs might just do the trick in the stressful Cambridge experience.

byron Cambridge Coleridge Drugs Exams opium sherry stress supervision

Last week, I had an early supervision. The kind offer of tea and biscuits was met with polite nods, but while I sat loudly slurping, I realised if I was going to make it through, I was going to need something a little stronger.

My concentration span had taken a beating from Sunday night’s Life, my essay was tenuous at best, and I had absolutely nothing relevant to say. Suddenly I knew what I needed. Yes, you’ve heard legalisation arguments before, but performance-enhancing drugs for Cantabrigians? Now that’s a first.

Byron did it, so why can’t we?

Half way through my mindless waffle, I realised that 20 years ago, I’d be sipping sherry. Fifty years ago we’d be passing around the snuff. And 100 years ago (okay, maybe more) we’d all be high on opium, and no one would notice that I hadn’t done the reading. So how have we regressed so much in so few years, and what ever happened to the fine Cambridge tradition of narcotic abuse?

Although I’m not advising amphetamines for your average essay crisis, or Special K for that mid exam-term stress, we could all do with a little help to get the creative cogs turning. Take a look at the greatest minds of previous centuries; some of our finest alumni were perpetually mashed. Coleridge and Byron wrote their finest work happily dosed on opium. Admittedly perhaps not great academic examples, as one never managed to graduate from Jesus and the other kept an illegal bear in Trinity, but they’re still good examples of drugs fuelling creativity.

Legalisation arguments tend toward the medicinal purpose of certain drugs, and it seems like our predecessors had already discovered the perfect cure for that awkward supervision freeze.

It seems to me that our whole system is geared towards a bit of casual inebriation. I really think I might have cracked it: there are times when we all need a little intellectual nudge in the right direction. So when the supervision-silence reaches unbearable heights, pass the opium to your left hand side. We’d all be better off because of it.