A Guide To: Fooling Porters

CLAUDIA LEONG gives her top tips for evading the ever-watchful eyes of college porters…

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Sometimes, getting along with porters is a bit like getting along with Father Christmas. And you’d better watch out, because they too know if you’ve been bad or good. Rather than being good for goodness’ sake, however, The Tab has come up with various ways of finding your way out of potentially sticky situations, as described by Cambridge students themselves.

When you’re throwing a room party, there are several things you can do if porter invasion is imminent. Empty bottles can be quickly concealed under a duvet or in a wardrobe, and if your room overlooks the Cam and you’re perilously short on time, open the windows and go long. Do try not to hit the ducks, though. Gyps are a suitable no man’s land in which you can dump drunkards. Distributing crosswords among your guests and making them part of a particularly raucous “Cambridge University Crosswords Society” gathering might get you off with a warning. If the porters are feeling charitable.

The perfect cover story

If your college is big on deaning drunks, do your best to casually stroll through the plodge to avoid raising suspicion on your way home from a night out. Assuming you are fully dressed, you should be all right. In a group, have the most sensible (read: sober) person walk through first, and as the rest of you pass under the porter’s scrutiny, avoid making conversation with anyone else.

With regards to mailing room shenanigans: it’s always slightly embarrassing being caught tearing posters off boards to create room to flog that play you’re in. Smile sweetly and you’ll probably get away with it, but remember to place said posters in the recycling bin; if nothing else, it’ll make you feel better about preventing people from signing up to the University Challenge team.

If you had a life-sized replica of the Venus de Milo or something similarly cumbersome sent to you in week one and are finally getting round to picking it up from the plodge, avoid the wrath of the claustrophobic porter by apologising profusely. For added authenticity, mutter about having spent the term on sabbatical, doing research in Eritrea.

Confidence is key if you’re caught smoking somewhere you shouldn’t be. “I thought that rule only applied to students” will only work if you can pull off the devil-may-care attitude of a distinguished fellow, and those Movember moustaches you’re working on can also help reduce the teenage boy look (even if it’s a complete girl-repellant at Cindies). If you’re in a discreet spot, offering the porter a cheeky ciggy will either work wonders or backfire miserably, so hedge your bets with care.

A curious blend of surrogate parent and terrifying head teacher, the porters seem to have a sixth sense for sniffing out trouble around college. We do like our porters, but when push comes to shove, sometimes you just need to find a way of getting around the archaic rules and regulations of an 800 year old institution. Let’s just hope that Cambridge porters don’t read The Tab