‘There are downsides to going to St John’s’: Why students hate me for being a Johnian
OSCAR WILLIAMS-GRUT admits being scorned by supervisors and ignored by neighbours as a direct result of his college.
During a recent trip to Clare, I was delighted when a porter came over and gave me a bottle of champagne.
“This is from the Master — he hopes you enjoy our humble college,” she explained.
You’re probably thinking ‘what a lovely surprise’ (it was only Moët, don’t get too excited). But while it was fairly lovely, it wasn’t a surprise. At least, not for me. You see I go to John’s.
Victim: Poor Oscar has been ostracised for his college
Throughout my Cambridge life, I’ve regularly had bottles of bubbly or barrels of crude oil sent to me by people I don’t know who’ve caught a glimpse of the coveted John’s scarf. Once, a well-dressed man offered me a job ruthlessly downsizing charities when I was standing behind him in the queue, while there was another occasion when a gentleman handed me a freshly slain goose as I stepped out of a cab in Grantchester.
Another time, as I was walking through Market Square, I was tapped on the shoulder and presented with a beautiful bunch of money. Even prostitutes frequently shoo my credit card away when I try settle the bill.
And whenever I’ve asked what I’ve done to deserve such treatment, the donors of these gifts have always said the same thing: you go to John’s.
While I’m no Lord, I’m rich, dickish and, so I’m often told, a Johnian. I know how lucky I am. But it’s not all gilded croissants and yacht-based parties; there are downsides to going to St John’s — the main one being that other students hate me for no other reason than my awesome college.
If you’re a student reading this, I’d hazard that you’ve already formed your own opinion about me — and it won’t be very flattering. For while many doors have been opened (literally) as a result of my college, (literally) just as many have been metaphorically (literally) slammed in my face — and usually by (literally) my fellow students.
Over the years, I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their friends/relatives/employers/pets. If anyone dared to actually talk to me, a sudden chill would descend on the room, and not because of my cold, dead heart.
It is not just jealous students who have frozen me out of their lives. Insecure supervisors have also given me bad marks and predicted me a third, simply because I go to John’s.
You’d think people would applaud me for going to such a fantastic college.
I work hard to be a Johnian — I don’t give to charity, I sing loud songs about how great John’s is, even when I don’t feel like it, and I very rarely succumb to academic work. Unfortunately students find nothing more annoying than someone else being the biggest schweffe in the room.
Take last week – I was taking my morning suit to the dry cleaners to get the red wine and vomit stains out when a Robinson girl I had supervisions with passed by. I began winking furiously and thrusting my crotch at her — she blatantly blanked me. Yet this is someone whose notes I’ve copied, and who I’ve leered at on countless occasions.
I approached a mutual friend and discreetly enquired if I’d made a faux pas. It seems the only crime I’d committed was being brazen enough to wear my John’s scarf (and John’s socks, tie, red boy stash and Lady Margaret blazer). She doesn’t like me, I discovered, because she views my college as a threat. The friend pointed out that her college is younger, poorer and shitter than mine.
This isn’t the first time such jealousy has gripped the women around me. Once when out peacocking in Cindies, I spotted a game bird dancing in John’s bar. She was clearly interested, flicking her hair seductively after it fell into her mouth a little bit. Yet when I went over and started daggering her, she ludicrously claimed she “wasn’t interested” and “had a boyfriend”. Clearly the real reason was she’d somehow figured out I was from John’s.
It’s hard when everyone resents you for your college. Women think “what’s the point, he’s probably a huge dick” and don’t ask you out. And men don’t want to hang out with someone richer, funnier, better at sports, and cleverer than they are.
It’s gotten to the point where I’ve started trying to hide my college. Sometimes I act like a socially retarded Mathmo, hoping people will think I’m from Trinity, or burn flags to try and blend in with King’s students.
But even these ploys don’t always work. Take last term and a birthday party I attended. At one point the host, who was celebrating her 21st, decided she wanted a photo with all the guests. Positioning us, the photographer suggested I stand in the middle, right in front of the host, holding up my John’s scarf.
Another student I barely knew pushed me out of the way, shouting it wasn’t fair on everyone else if I was dominating the snap. I was devastated and immediately punched him in the face. On my own in the loos one guest privately consoled me — well out of ear-shot of his friends.
So now I’m a third year and probably one of very few people welcoming graduation. Perhaps then people will finally stop judging me so harshly on what college I go to, and instead accept me for who I am – a rich, talented, sporty, clever, modest guy.
Photography by Tabatha Leggett