Friday, June 16, 2006

Mirth and Woe: Food Fight

Food Fight!

The first rule of Bracknell College was: no drink. This was also the second and third rule, designed solely to stamp out any joy from our young lives.

The principal was a staunch tee-totaller and would not allow students to drink alcohol, on or off the premises, legal drinking age or not. So, naturally, every lunchtime we joined our lecturers down the pub. And as long as no-one turned up for the afternoon sessions steaming drunk, everything was fine.

But woe, every once in while, some thick-headed student would fill himself up with gin, stagger into the college buildings and yark up all over the place. Then, it was a one-way ticket to Bracknell dole office via Beardy Gott's office. Transgressors were often never seen again, not even in Bracknell's newly-opened McDonalds.

As the man said, "Act like adults, we treat you like adults." Unfortunate, then, that for some, the role model was George Best.

And then, in my second year, came the Christmas Dinner.

The fools let us have a Christmas Dinner.

Turkey, Figgy Pudding, the works. But NO BOOZE.


In the words of a pissed-up Jeff Goldblum: Booze will find a way.

And how.

Most eschewed the formality of lectures that morning, and made straight for Sainsbury's as soon as it opened and cleared the shelves of alcohol within a matter of minutes. Then, at 11 o'clock, the Red Lion threw open its doors, and a committed hard core set about exercising their drinking muscles in prepartion for the winter solstice festivities.

And finally, at one, the college refectory opened, and a beaming Mr Gott, splendid in his Santa outfit, welcomed his students to the party.

We had our own soft drinks. Great big two-litre diet Coke bottles, which were a fifty-fifty mix of Cola and Vodka. The more adventurous preferred orange tango, which was, of course, a charming cocktail of fruit juices and paint stripper.

Within twenty minutes, we had drunk the lot.

And then:

"Pass us another bread roll."

So we did.

In fact, everybody passed him a bread roll. With extreme force. He got one or two roast potatoes as well.

Then, I am sorry to say, it all went downhill from there.

Animal House had only recently been on television, and well, you know students - all too easily swayed by the goggle box.


Nobody moved. Nobody, it seemed could be that stupid.

Try again.


The air was filled with food. Bread rolls, turkey, greens, potatoes, gravy, and from one corner, the vegetarian option. Who says being meat-free can't be fun? Projectile nut roast hurts to buggery, I can tell you for nothing.

And in the centre of the melee, Santa Claus.


Poor, poor Gott. He got the full force, and he soon disappeared under a shower of food. And all this in the same week that Bob Geldof was calling up Midge Ure to ask him how he was getting on with that song he was writing for those poor, starving Africans. Shameless, we.

Nothing was spoken of The Food Fight afterwards. Not a word. It never happened, this dreadful stain on the College's copybook.

The canteen was cleared up, but months later, evidence could still be seen, clinging to the ceiling, and the following year, there was no Christmas.

On the first week of the following term, we headed to the Red Lion and ordered four pints of Courage Best.

"Sorry lads. Can't serve college students. Mr Gott's orders."

Also, in every pub from Wokingham to Ascot: "Can I take your names? The Principal wants a list."


Booze, however, found a way.

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