Friday, December 09, 2005

Tribes

Last Friday, this happened.


It so happens that at the time it all went down, I was standing in the foyer of the main Strand building, chatting with one of my friends.* The sound of very large numbers of pissed people singing "Que Sara Sara" wafted down the street and then the mob hove into view. Amusingly, because the main Strand building has a large revolving door, the first 15 or so people to hurl themselves forward became comprehensively jammed inside it and looked like a right bunch of wankers. Finally the mob found its way in an proceded to smash up everything in the foyer that wasn't bolted down, while bellowing "Fuck KCL" and then made their way upstairs, where they proceeded to smash things up further and wreck most of the ceiling tiles on the second floor.

I'd love to tell you that we fought to bar their entry by forming an Anglo-Saxon shield wall and sold our lives dearly while banging axes on shields and defiantly bellowing "Out! Out! Out!", as was the fashion in those days.

In fact that's exactly what we did. I was hit in the head with an arrow and was killed instantly.

No, it's just not plausible enough to run with. What actually happened was that we stood there rather bemusedly while the mob, who beyond hurling verbal abuse at the college in general, were not out for a fight (Which is lucky, cos I'd have learned 'em if they'd tried anything. Clearly. Ahem.), passed through and then we went on our way.

The interesting point to this is this:

If you look at it empirically, they actually caused a lot of trouble for themselves. The money - and it runs to a hell of a lot of money - is coming out of their student union funds, which means they've pretty much shot themselves in the foot and I suspect that those students who didn't take part are probably not that chuffed. If anyone is positively identified (which I doubt will happen given the sheer number of students - if there were fewer than double the number estimated in the BBC report [I dunno who gave them the 50 estimate but they must have had all the perceptiveness of a myopic bush baby] I'd be very surprised) they stand to lose out badly not only financially but academically. So what's lost? Nothing really.

And yet... and yet. The point remains that they made a right old mess of our place and their stomping ground over at the Aldwych remains pristine and unviolated. Did they "shame" their college? No, they didn't, they struck a blow because in however many years time the financial cost will not be remembered but the fact that they made a right old mess of KCL will remain, doubtless burnished into a sparkling little bit of student folklore. And we did nothing about it except demand that their administration pay for what happened, which in spiritual terms is roughly the equivalent of running crying to teacher.

Not that I'd advocate actually going and, Bomber Harris styl-ee, giving them a taste of their own medicine and then some. By every measure of sanity and common sense the college Principal is absolutely right. But it's hard to shake the niggling feeling that they violated our patch and that because like has not been repaid with like even if we get everything paid for, even if they get a stern talking to, even if one or two of their people get carpeted and given an apocalyptic bollocking, on some weird spiritual warrior-bollocks level it's 1-0 to them.

Which is nonsense really... and yet given that college loyalty can spur that sort of thinking it puts a bit of context on just how fucked up things can get once you're in a situation where people are getting killed. Ouch.


POSTSCRIPT:

Traditionally, of course, the main inter-collegiate rivalry within London University has been between UCL and King's, though I've seen little active evidence of it in my time here. Famously, Jeremy Bentham's preserved head is now kept locked in a safe because our lads kept stealing it from its display case and either dispatching it to far corners of the nation (it once eneded up in a station luggage locker in Aberdeen) or, on more extreme occasions, playing football with it in the grounds of Somerset House.

Which when you think about it is absolutely appalling in every conceivable way. But generally speaking it leads to the perception that we've got one up on them so I'd be lying, ashamed though I am to admit it, if I told you I gave a shit.





*Who later announced cheerily that he knew somebody at the LSE who had mentioned that something was going to go down that week but that he'd forgotten about it. Given that he's from Jersey and is therefore already wide open to suspicion of pro-French/Nazi/Illuminati/Stuart Monarchy sympathies this does his credibility no good at all...

4 Comments:

Blogger Dan said...

Now, strictly speaking old chap, I think you've missed out on quite a lot of LSE-Kings rivalry there. Obviously, as an LSE alumnus I was deeply shamed... (blah blah, blah) ... regrettable incident. But it's clear there's only one way to settle this for good and all. Your Principal, our Principal, four bedding rolls, some gaffer tape, a circle of naked men and six crates of White Lightning. Last man standing gets to take over the other place, and then we'll all head over to UCL.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

You wouldn't go near Royal Holloway, either of you...

5:41 AM  
Anonymous oli said...

Surrender happy, Nazi houser here from Jersey. There were about 400 students there and most of them, even though incredible drunk were actually just pussy footing around while about three or four guys were destroying everything. serious bandwagoning going on it looked like

8:53 AM  
Blogger Anthony said...

Three or four my rosy red arse. You're just providing yet more evidence to ensure that you'll be put up against a wall and shot as a collaberator when liberation comes. Don't think I'm going to hide you in my cellar or help you escape dressed as a washerwoman like Toad of Toad Hall.

9:54 AM  

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