Saturday, June 4, 1983

Canto eighty three

Another hot and sticky day. Shelley, Susie and I went for a walk up Gaunt’s Hill: the heat was suffocating and oppressive. I was desperate for a drink but had to make do with an ice-lolly. We lounged atop the hill in the haze while Shelley made daisy chains and decked herself out with buttercups before wandering back through the woods. I had a headache.

In the evening most people went across to the marquee behind Wollstonecraft for the Tenant's Association carnival Drink Yourself Silly event. The entrance fee was a fiver but a few people managed to con their way in for nothing.

Stu and I were marooned back in Wollstonecraft Hall, our vow to work hanging around our necks, and we stared across at the marquee, lit by occasional flashes of lightning and echoing to the distant sounds of drunken fun. Lindsey was having a night ‘in’ too. Her arms were sore with sunburn after a bicycle ride earlier and she moped about painfully. I even went back to bed at one point, but Shelley’s breathless voice at my door got me up again. She was drunk, as was Gareth who had spare tickets for Stu and I.

I hurriedly got dressed, grabbed my dope, and rushed over to the marquee.

A scene befitting Dante’s Inferno greeted us. A long trestle table which served as the bar stood at one end of the marquee. Booze was free with the paid admission and the hapless bar staff sweated and slogged endlessly back and forth with ever-empty glasses. The ground was a sodden mass of shards of plastic, mud and grass. Around us sweat drenched people writhed seductively, their hair and clothes limp with the heat, or wandered to and fro clutching spilling drinks. Couples wrapped themselves around one another, mouth to mouth, arms entwined; others danced in the red throbbing light. Shelley swayed and squirmed to the music, smiling drunkenly, Guy seemed pissed but wasn’t, and Gareth was completely out of his brain. He waved an eye-liner pencil around and tried to draw on us with it, catching passersby and snaring Rowan’s Katie. Soon they were dancing face to face while Stu and I stood there disbelievingly. “It makes me feel like a Christian,” said Stu.

All about was a sexual sweat-sodden frenzy. Couples were fucking behind the marquee, others were throwing up, still others openly took a piss. The riotous abandon was amazing and it seemed as though everyone had quite literally gone berserk. Stu and I shared a joint, but really we felt totally out of it. There’s nothing worse than being sober when everyone else is drunk.

We left, partly because we weren’t drunk and it was no fun standing there, and as we walked back across the muddy grass, Gareth caught us up and cadged the rest of my dope. Soon after, they all came streaming, screaming homewards, and campus was awash with manic drunkards, screeching and wandering in the road and destroying things.

Gareth was as drunk as I’ve ever seen him; he rushed frenziedly from room to room, singing continually and chanting at us, before collapsing on his bed and throwing up out of his window. Shelley crashed out in the toilet, whimpering feebly at the thunder which continued to rumble. She stayed locked in there for two hours before we managed to persuade her to come out. Susie had a man in her room, some bespectacled bloke I’d seen her chatting up in the coffee shop a few days ago.

Thus the evening crawled out to its dark and depressing finale, my room an oasis of sobriety as downstairs the foyer was wrecked, ash-cans thrown everywhere, posters ripped down, and the lightning flickered menacingly across the sky.

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