The Sunday Serial: Episode 1 – Blackmail
The Sunday Serial is BACK and bursting with carnal encounters, CUSU and corruption. Join our heroes here as their adventure begins…
St Ronald’s College perches precariously on the banks of the Cam.
And as the April sun’s rays lick its crumbling monastic stonework, as the Japanese tourists gently (and completely understandably) demand fortified wine from the porters, and shattered students roll out of bed to greet the late afternoon, a wandering tour guide can be heard, beneath the Master’s Lodge, telling a group of Sixth Form students about the stunningly conclusive repartee he delivered to Sir Reginald, the former admiral, during his admissions interview. But Sir Reginald does not hear this. Neither does CUSU’s president, Sarah, who is in Sir Reginald’s bedroom, a stuffed squirrel taped to her head and a full-on naval invasion broaching her amidships.
As she lay there, impressed by the military precision wielded by a man with woodland-focussed fantasies, Sarah was inclined to be philosophical.
Why are older men so much more inspiring than medieval literature? Both are ancient, and overlooked by the vast majority of the population…
Ah, that was the difference. Every evening Sarah demanded some form of essay distraction – the Master was Tuesday night’s. An arrangement of mutual benefit had been arrived at, for each night of the week, between Sarah and another member of the university. Drowning in the never ending cycle of essays, supervisions and alcoholism, regular light carnal exercise was the perfect way to see down the sun.
And when the tour guide has said his last exhausted goodbye to his Sixth Formers, the Japanese tourists have been fobbed off with a £10 Rons mug, and the sun, bored of caressing the city, has sloped away behind Castle Mound, Sarah takes her leave of Sir Reginald and returns to her essays. The tourists go home, the tour guide to the bar and Sir Reginald to his study. He must – having replaced his trousers – draft an email cancelling the Lizards’ Garden Party. The college drinking society had held their annual dinner at the weekend and, once the hall had been vacated, it was discovered that the portraits were as cock-ridden as Sarah’s diary. Repercussions were occurring; their garden party was not.
To describe the President of the Lizards as pissed off would be like calling a Nazi uniform sexy: inappropriate, but accurate. Archie was livid. No one had really thought that the founders of the college needed nob-beards. But everyone thought the Lizards needed a garden party. Someone had got their priorities seriously cocked up, and it wasn’t him.
“I could sleep with the Master…”
“Bit drastic, mate.”
“How long have I known you?”
“And do I do drastic?”
“I don’t know, you could have changed while I was on my gap year…”
Archie and Tom’s relationship was like calling a Nazi uniform ‘Brian’: surprisingly intimate. Thus, having received the garden-party-centric news from Sir Reginald, it was to Tom that Archie had turned for solace.
“You could blackmail him.”
“I could ask him to reconsider.”
“You could blackmail him.”
“I could write a letter of apology?”
“You could blackmail him.”
“I could pay him off.”
“You could blackmail him?”
Tom’s conversation was gradually becoming like Nazi-uniform-based similes: repetitive. It was an insult to Archie’s tenure as president if he couldn’t manage to control his fellow revellers sufficiently to host the Lizards’ Garden Party. The Lizards’ Garden Party: the only time the drinking society gave something to other college members that wasn’t a form of bodily fluid. And the likelihood of this same garden party occurring was now sprawling, tits up, on the floor, waggling its legs in the air and shouting “Sir Reginald! Squish me beneath your navally-shod heel!”
“I live next to him, you know.”
“I live near the Master’s lodge.”
“Tom, I’m trying hard to give some tosses, but it’s not really working.”
“I live next door to Sir Reginald,” Tom persisted. “So I see who visits him. And I can just see in through some of his windows. With my camera…”
“You know Sarah? CUSU President?”
“Well, so does the Master. Quite intimately. Come to my room – I’ll show you some photos.”
The college bar was bustling. A pleasant sense of post-formal piss-up pervaded the air, and anyone with a grudge or distemper had been relegated to a far-flung nook or cranny. In one such cranny sat Simon, a second year English student and regular contributor to the Tab. His journalistic gripes were fighting off the most valiant attempt to be soothed by Bacchus, so he was venting them to anyone who would listen.
“The Lizards had it coming!” he whispered to a fresher girl who, wafting past in a spin of gaiety, shot him a sad glance and vanished into the throng.
“You know what their problem is?”he continued, addressing the Hockey Captain. “Democracy.”
“Piss off, prick.”
“They could at least pretend to care about what other people want.”
“You know what I want?” the Hockey Captain fixed Simon with a rhetorical stare.
“To win hockey cuppers for once?”
The Hockey Captain passed. And Simon was left with no one in particular to talk to. Which, conveniently, was how he liked it.
“Seriously, why does getting lots of media coverage qualify someone to run a society? Everyone just acts like an alcoholic dick all year, trying to get into the Daily Mail. And then the Twat of the Year, who gets the most media attention, gets to run the Lizards. That’s why things like the garden party get cancelled. Ow!”
Tom had entered the bar and thrown a cork at Simon.
“People are enjoying themselves, mate. Go back to the library, yeah?”
“Hey, Tom” called the Hockey Captain. “Where’s Archie?”
Tom smiled. “He’s just having a chat with the Master. They’ve got some things to discuss. You know, I reckon the garden party will be back on…”