Charlie Palmer – Be careful who you spray

This week, CHARLIE PALMER wants to talk about insensitive post-exam spraying…

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The other day, I poured cold strawberry Frijj over a man’s head.

Yesterday, some of my friends covered me in flour, cava and (genuinely) “cock flavoured” soup powder. Civilised? Not exactly. Harmless? Completely. But the looks I got as I waddled damply back to college to have a shower, the cava slowly combining with the powder to form soup in my hair, were of disdain, rather than simply bemusement or disgust.

I knew why, obviously – I’d been outside the Corn Exchange the day before. Like a surreal yet terrifying combination of Animal House and Black Hawk Down, the food fight had spilled out into the street. Pedestrians were literally having to dodge eggs that malcoordinated students were trying to lob at friends who’d just finished exams. The traffic had come to a standstill as people wandered obliviously over the road, one even pouring milk over a car’s windscreen.

Oblivious joy

I can’t be the only one who’s really embarrassed about this. Every time parents decide they’ll go round the block with their kids to avoid the mayhem, or someone passing on a bike gets covered in Sainsbury’s cava, part of me dies inside. I hate being associated with this kind of thing, and it makes me pretty ashamed to be a Cambridge student. I love Caesarian Sunday, but when everyone’s gone home and the entirety of Jesus Green is littered with crap, it makes me want to go all St Peter and deny any affiliation with the university.

It happens in every university town – the students go a bit mental and the people who live there get (understandably) pissed off. But it’s worse here – the comparatively small city centre is so dominated by the university that we start to think we own the place. We treat the people who live here as if they’re guests in our town, rather than the other way round.

The people who accidentally hit passing locals with cava seem to adopt the attitude of “well, they shouldn’t have walked past the Corn Exchange, should they?” We get annoyed when Cambridge is busy at the weekend, forgetting that half of those people do actually live here, and were just working during the week. The “townies” are treated as some kind of invasive force, who come out of hiding to beat up innocent students on Friday and Saturday nights.


Having grown up near Cambridge, I find this quite funny. The townies everyone’s so scared of are my friends from primary school, or my little brother and his mates. Yes, my brother can be a pain at the best of times, but the idea that anyone could be intimidated by the prospect of sharing a club with him is laughable. Students here talk about “danger Cindies” as if it’s somewhere in the East End, not a historic market town with a Lib Dem MP. The “Cambridge bubble” is entirely of our own making – we choose to hang out only with other Cambridge students.

Even Anglia Ruskin is seen as some kind of mysterious “other” – most Cambridge students know literally no-one from ARU. Not that this stops us having a go at them – apparently they’re all thick, and most of them will be hardened criminals by the time they’re 30. Through getting involved with Cam FM, which serves both universities, I’ve been lucky enough to meet quite a few ARU students, and the friends I’ve made there have been wonderful, fun, intelligent people. Why wouldn’t they be?

Try going out on a Saturday, and actually chat to some non-students. You’d do it at home, so why not here? You never know, they might actually turn out to be normal people.