Put a (drinking) sock in it

CONOR MULHEIR tells us why he doesn’t want to be part of your club, and doesn’t really believe that you do either.

All the lads anti-social bullingdon Cambridge Drinking Drinking Societies

Before I arrived at Cambridge, the idea of a ‘drinking society’ seemed very quaint and charming indeed.

I pictured evenings toiled away around an open fire in smoking jackets and slippers, using expressions like “a lovely vintage” and “tannins”. 

Unfortunately, it appears that these societies are not in fact a regular coming together of the colleges’ most discerning palettes, but a red-faced collection of the noisiest, most self-important wankers that the university has to offer. 

Luckily for the people who make up these societies they have the luxury of being this city’s most aggressive and obnoxious residents, and as such seem to face little to no opposition to their exploits.

I’d love to see 15 steaming ex-public schoolboys (or girls for that matter) marching through the streets of Liverpool or Glasgow, all wearing the same clothes, and singing ‘God Save the Queen’ as loudly as they can.

Something tells me they’d face a little more resistance than they do here. 

‘I don’t know how to interact with girls, please set me up on one giant date with all of my friends and all of her friends, and then invent activities in case she gets bored of hearing my JP Morgan internship stories’

Clearly, I had fundamentally misunderstood the function of these societies, thanks to their unhelpful name.

If the idea is that you join them because you like to drink alcohol, why would demands to drink alcohol be handed out as a punishment?

If you liked drinking alcohol, why would you be concerned with how much alcohol the people around you were drinking?

And for god’s sake, why would you do things that you don’t want to do in order to impress someone you’ve never met before and who actually wants you to do something you don’t want to do? In short: what’s wrong with you people?

A really quite standard drinking society invite

At this point, I should probably confess I’ve never actually had a night out with a drinking society. I’ve never been on a swap, and I’ve never drunk wine from a shoe.

Clearly, any drinking society member would tell me that I was missing the point, and that it’s fun, and all the lads, and so on.

But, from an outside perspective, the behaviour of these groups is so unambiguously, objectively abhorrent that I cannot bring myself to even try. I just can’t. I can’t spend an evening with these people.

I can’t drink a bottle of port through a condom, and why would I want to?

Presumably so that when I’m a merchant banker and I need a bailout from the government, it comes in really handy to have worn the same ridiculous striped tie as the Chancellor. Or something.

Case in point

Alas, I will never be able to join a drinking society, unless the rules are changed, so enough with the initiations, the uniforms, the fining and the fucking noise.

Here are my suggested rules for a new breed of drinking society:

All members must be sensibly clothed at all times

Nobody cares how many hours you’ve spent in the gym. It’s 10pm, October, and you’re in the middle of Parker’s Piece pouring beer down your chest via your mouth. This is not a good look for anybody, put a fucking shirt on.

All members must drink beverages of their choice, at a pace of their choice

It’s fine to like drinking. It’s fine to love drinking. It’s fine to want to down a bottle of wine, but why would anyone specifically want someone else to do that? Why? Why, why, why?

All genders welcome

It’s 2014, you weirdos.

No shouting in the streets or generally harassing people not involved in your debauched playdate

Isn’t it weird how some of the world’s most privileged, well educated people can’t get their awful heads round this terribly simple idea? Please, guys, keep it down. You are the reason the rest of this city thinks we’re cunts.

And that’s all you need! These rules would allow everyone to have exactly the experience they want, and in what way is that not the ideal?

If you really, really think that being told what to drink, how much of it, when, and how quickly, counts as hedonism, then by all means enjoy it while it lasts because it’s really weird outside of the bubble.

I’d love to be able to tell people back home that Cambridge isn’t as bad as they imagine, that it’s a civilised and pleasant place – because I’m sure that individually you’re all lovely people – but how can I when there are groups of freshers lying down in the middle of the road at the mercy of some red-trousered power hungry sadist?