Diary Of A Fresher: ‘I got to indulge my James Bond fantasies in a tuxedo’

Author: By David Scripps

Having been given a role in one of the many outdoor Shakespeare productions traditionally put on during this week means I can’t indulge as much in May Week’s boundless hedonism as I’d like to. Luckily, though, the night before my parents come to take me home is there just to be enjoyed.

My show is finally over: Mum has told me I’m wonderful, Dad has told me he never really enjoys Shakespeare anyway and some cretin has written a semi-coherent review which characterises yours truly as utterly unable to convey emotion. I’m ready to get rather drunk.

This is fortunate, because tonight a big bunch of my friends and I are going to one of my university’s many May balls. These, I am reliably informed, are easily the most fun you can have in an evening without taking off your tuxedo. For your ticket, purchased months in advance and normally costing about £100, you get everything you could possibly hope for: unlimited food and alcohol, live music and whatever else the organisers think might appeal to a bunch of drunk-within-reason students.

The only May ball I’ve been to before was a couple nights ago as a hired help, entertaining a small tent full of undergraduates at 3am before being escorted out promptly an hour later. I’ve also spent many long evenings learning lines in my room, fuming at the ceaseless fireworks display coming from a nearby college. I’m hoping this one will be pretty spectacular.

Spectacular it is, after a fashion. There’s an hour-and-a-half queue to get past security (breaking into these things, or trying to, is considered something of a feat if successful), then we’re into the magic kingdom. The trick is to be in the right place at the right time, with “the right place” being wherever there aren’t enormous queues and “the right time” being before everything consumable runs out.

For some reason, I find myself perpetually in the wrong place. I’m a bit disappointed when, craving port and cheese at 2am (in context, less weird than it sounds), the relevant stand has only crackers left. Unlimited, it seems, means while meagre stocks last. I munch away at some anyway. Any more glamour might kill me.

At 4am, those of us who have real bow ties on, having learnt how to tie one from the man on the ‘How to tie a bow tie!’ video, now undo them and feel a bit cooler. The chocolate fountain, unfortunately, is now out of action (something to do with a drunk guy’s head and health and safety. I hate to imagine). By the official end of the party at 6am, there isn’t a smidgeon of food or alcohol left. Even the crackers are gone.

It’s not all bad, though. I would not be griping if the tickets hadn’t cost a small fortune. I did get to indulge my James Bond tuxedo fantasies after all. Besides, overpriced as it was, there’s no better way of saying goodbye to your friends for three months. Maybe next year I’ll have a go at sneaking in.

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