The SAGA of the Gold Card Challenge

There is a legend told around the fair town of Portswood of a quest so perilous, so treacherous and so horrifying that to undertake it is to risk almost certain […]

There is a legend told around the fair town of Portswood of a quest so perilous, so treacherous and so horrifying that to undertake it is to risk almost certain death. Yet the reward shadows the risk a thousand times over. Few are brave enough to take on this fearsome challenge, fewer still complete it but those that do are immortalised and their names become the stuff of legend. What is this quest that trumps all quests you ask? The Jesters Gold Card Challenge!

Okay, so maybe it isn’t almost certain death, but believe me, the Challenge is no easy feat! Yet the reward makes it all worthwhile…  If Jesters is a palace, the Gold Card is the key to the front door. Its bearers are granted free entry and queue jump each night, bar Monday. Upon hearing of this fabled card I rallied a band of merry men and we set about our quest!

There are two ways you can be granted a gold card, by spending a day at the Jesters Summer Cider Festival, from 1pm to 3am, or by spending six consecutive nights in Jesters, from 10pm to 1pm. We undertook the challenge in the week after January exams so the cider festival was out of the question. Instead, we had to slug it out the hard way, 6 nights, 18 hours and an unfathomable amount of Jesticles.  Unaware of the hardship we faced, our band of brothers approached Monday as we would any other Monday at Jesters. After a foolhardy pre-booze, we staggered into the Palace around 9.30, desperate to avoid falling at the first hurdle. The night is a blur, but I’m sure was filled with the usual hazards Jesters has to offer. 2am came and went and we left, proudly stumbled back home and collapsed into our beds, feeling as though the next 5 days would be easy. How wrong we were.

Waking with a throbbing head, the last thing on my mind was returning to Jesters. But the evening came and we knew we must go on. We skipped pre-drinks, having learnt our mistake, and trudged again into the murky depth of Jesters. So afraid of missing the 10pm time limit we arrived just after 9. We claimed the corner table for our own, and sat in an empty basement nursing our £1 cans. It was a sombre affair and as soon as 1am hit, we left, the magnitude of our task finally dawning upon us.

Wednesday began in a similar vein to Tuesday, our eyes vacant, hearing dulled until we were rallied by a speech from one of our compatriots. With his passionate cries reminding us that this was all about the journey, we returned to the bar with a new determination and set about the Jesticles once more.

Thursday and Friday passed by in a flurry of dancing, boozing and even a few fisticuffs. Finally, the end was in sight.  We entered the sacred hall for one last time, battered and bruised. Our wallets were light and our livers cried in agony. The 3 hours on that final night should have been bliss. We should have danced the night away, signed out for the final time, received our fabled prize and headed to Manzils to celebrate in style. But this was no fairy tale, the 3 hours were hell. We huddled on our table, wishing the minutes by which only seemed to make them pass slower. We began to turn against Jesters. The drunken rabble were no longer amusing, we could no longer accept hearing the same music and not even the battle cry of Baywatch could stir us our morale was so low. As 1am ticked by we left, it was over, we had won. Yet it was a bitter sweet victory, we were now sick of our favourite night club, the idea of free entry now seemed useless and we felt we would never return. However, time passed and wounds healed.

The greatest achievement of his life

We had to return a week later to collect our prizes and as we walked through the door once more and were presented with our cards, I heard a whisper from the group, a member claiming this was the greatest achievement of his life. I looked around and saw a similar pride my friends’ eyes. Heads held high we bounded down the stairs and revelled in our glory the whole night.

So let this be a warning for those of you foolish enough to attempt the GCC, you will travel to hell and back again on your quest, but should you emerge victorious, greatness awaits you.