Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sales Are Down, What To Do? Ah Yes, Let's Diss Cambridge

Last week I went to HELP University College to deliver a talk about studying at Cambridge to new applicants. So there I was, standing at the head of a room packed with eager faces looking out reverently at me, a supposedly brilliant student of one of the world's oldest and most ancient professions at one of the world's oldest and most ancient seats of academia. On I went, extolling the virtues of the medical course at Cambridge, distilling insight into the interview process and course structure, while the eager beavers dutifully scribbled notes, some of them even timidly raising hands to ask questions, fearful in my supposedly great presence. (None of them, of course, know me in real life, so none of them know that I am in fact a lazy bum who spends more time acting out half-brained minor characters in dramas than poring over medical textbooks and who got into Cambridge purely by virtue of my unusually attractive eyelashes.) And I was more than happy to play the omniscient demigod in front of them, supremely confident in his every movement, master of every attention span in the room.

Then towards the end of my presentation, as I was ready to humbly receive the thunderous applause that was sure to follow, one tiny lecturer sitting in the very last row raised her hand timidly, obviously afraid of offending this distinguished speaker. I, ever the warm and generous medic, puffed some more air into my already inflated chest, and was about to gracefully accept her question--

"Oi."


I blinked. Surely it was an involuntary release of air from her nervous throat. I decided to forgive her poor frazzled nerves and answered gracefully, "Yes?"

"Eh, I heard you Cambridge medics ah, all drunkards you know."

Why, the poor thing was so humbled by my greatness, she didn't know what she was rambling on about. Ever the masterful conversationalist, I asked "Excuse me?"

"I read in the newspapers one, you Cambridge people got lot of discipline problems one. Always get caught for being drunk and doing stupid stupid things."


Fortunately for me, I knew what she was on about. About a week earlier, the New Straits Times had reprinted this article from the Daily Mail, accompanied by a picture of two male undergraduates dressed in Edwardian clothes, sprawled on a pavement in what can only be described as an obscene position. I immediately wrote in with a less-than-polite reply, which of course was not published, but the damage was done. All those newspaper adverts, all that trumpeting by all those competing colleges plugging their successful Cambridge entrants for all they were worth, all those years of work by the media to promote Cambridge's image as a top-notch university, and along comes some article that reduces all Cambridge undergrads everywhere to gay drunkards playing footsie on some vomit-stained pavement. Ah, the power of the media. Those who are in the media KNOW that blatant hyperbole is an art and should be developed at all costs:

After all, the hallowed quadrangles of Cambridge University are meant to house the hard-working and quietly studious.

Yet newly-released college disciplinary records reveal as never before the extraordinary extent of student hi-jinx and debauchery.


This sensational accusation is followed by examples including:

St Catharine's College has taken action over "breach of etiquette at formal hall", although it is unclear what actually happened.

A student at Clare College had to write an apology after being caught impersonating another member of the college.

A female student at Newnham "failed to exhibit due diligence in her studies" while a 25-year-old postgraduate at Hughes Hall failed an exam, but was acquitted of any offence due to extenuating circumstances.

My word. Such serious offences! Such barbaric behaviour! They should all be executed.

The truth is, drunken behaviour has become part of British university culture. Drunken offences happen at EVERY university in Britain, not just Cambridge. This, of course, is helped along by the recent introduction of 24-hour drinking laws. But of course, Cambridge sells, and I strongly doubt that an article titled 'Hull University reveals shameful saga of drunken students behaving badly' would have attracted nearly as many readers or sold nearly as many papers.

So we have gowns and old buildings and funny traditions. So does this other place . It comes with the package of being one of the oldest universities in the world. You expect students here to wear long thick robes, put on glasses thicker than a Malaysian maths textbook and walk around from library to library carrying textbooks the size of Montana? Go talk to H.G. Wells.

9 comments:

You know who... said...

You have not replied regarding the items that you wished sent to you. I hope that they arrived in a satisfactory condition, and that you are even now pleasing yourself with them.

Anyway, it is with much gladness that I see another Cambridge related blog. I shall chart its course, and soon enough I will place bets with the local punting agency as to how long it will be before your Medic life takes you by the horns... (Wait, humans don't have horns... what do you have then? Oh yes... Balls..) I mean balls, and twists them, eliciting feelings of great discomfort. As a result, this blog will stagnate and die, withering away like a virgin flower within one of our most debauched orgies.

As you would have doubtlessly gathered, I am placing your chances of continuing this blog on a regular basis on the same shelf as England's chances of winning the World Cup, i.e. ZERO. I mean, all it would take is one errant air stewardess, and this poor, innocent blog will be abandoned in favour of the more carnal pleasures in life. Either that, or a certain well-dressed personality in that evil land, who has managed to take the one thing of yours that I do not find useful, your virginity. I wonder, did he use any form of lubrication?

dan said...

too bad lah... couldnt find his air stewardess.. so i guess he has to continue his blog..

you know who... said...

Well, one could begin to substitute air stewardess with a multitude of synonyms, such as "economist" or "princess" or "Cylon" among others.

hodilun said...

my dear, you seem like you have too much time, which you don't?
nice one, the apprentice malaysia. please don't tell me it's another one of your jokes. and did you make that poster yourself?!
you certainly have a lot of time...spend some on me. haha! got ya there pervert! and on a blog comment board somemore! shameless me.....
tell me where you get your House!
cya at the end of the year....take care!
oh, by the way, you've been linked!

dan said...

what the... economist? oh.. the OLD one ah.. heheheh

anyway, to the grumpy old grandma who said "oi" in the background:

oi.. although we get drunk and all that, we're still smarter than you.. so dont cry la when your goody goody kid gets rejected.

two middle fingers up.

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dan said...

what rubbish. i cannot believe u can get comment spam on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha. Silly boy. That wasn't a lecturer. That was my mum. And please do not slander her like that. It truly isn't very becoming. For one, she definitely presented her question with the utmost tact and sensitivity of a woman her age. I'd appreciate it if it doesn't happen again.

The Angry Medic said...

oh, didn't I put up a disclaimer? I wasn't referring to any actual persons in this post, nor do I do so in any of my posts unless explicitly stated. the lecturer in the post, as well as ALL her words, were purely creations of my mind loosely based on real events in my miserable life. same goes for everything I put on my blog, unless explicitly quoted. apologies for any offense caused. your mum is a very nice lady. the lecturer is a composite character based on many people who slagged me after the article came out in the papers.