Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Memories of Parties Past (I)

Writing yesterday's post reminded me about the annual party that the Manchester University Maths Department used to throw. They still may do, for all I know, though when I left its future was in doubt.

Some years ago an ex-member of the department bequeathed a large sum of money to it and from that fund an annual grant provided the money for a party for the whole department with the exception of the first-year undergraduates (presumably on the grounds that they already partied too much and everyone else needed a welcome break from their work). The only first-years allowed in were those who were working behind the bar. In my first-year, that was us.


We were the canniest of the cliques that sprang up within the year. We had got to know the people who ran the department undergraduate society, The Colloquium (now sadly known by the far more common and dull Mathsoc). As normal members we had subsidised trips to Blackpool and Dublin plus various other events organised through the year but, on top of that, we had contacts in the second and third years and links into the department staff that other people didn't. So, when the Colloquium committee needed half a dozen first-years to man the bar at this party they quite naturally turned to us.

We didn't need much time to think about it.

The grant paid for six 88-pint barrels of beer (bitter and lager) plus a dozen or more boxes of wine and several large bottles of cider. By the end of the party, the 200 people there had drunk everything and swiftly departed in search of more alcohol.

Of course, we'd done more than our fair share in helping to get through all of it. The great thing about working the bar was that, while everyone else had to wait until you got to them with a refill, we could just help ourselves whenever we wanted. And we did.

At the end of the party, we had to stay behind long enough to clear up the rubbish (it was all plastic glasses and paper plates so that was pretty quick and easy) and we each departed with £20 for our trouble (You're having a laugh aren't you? We'd quite happily have done it for nowt) , a free ticket into the cheesy 80s night, 'Club Tropicana', and a skinful.

What a great night.

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