This blog is usually reserved for detailing international competitions but this weekend the UDS went to London for the UCL IV. The trip was a shambles from the start and the resulting chaos deserved a post.
The journey begins with the clown car style drive to Edinburgh on Thursday night as we cram much luggage (including Beckie and Maddie’s things to go home for 2 weeks) and 5 people into Steph’s not very large car. Having dragged the mud flaps on the car along the Edinburgh bypass and down the dirt track to Dans house, we were met by an adorable puppy and the declaration that Gillis was going to stay up all night and start his essay due for 5pm the next day.
The following morning we pile into another car where there are not enough seats so Steph and Beckie get intimate for the first, but not last, time this weekend. THEN, WE MET JEREMY PAXMAN IN THE SECURITY QUEUE. It was a great moment, Beckie had much internal trauma over whether to ask for a selfie or whether to restrain herself. She chose restraint and now feels a deep sense of regret and probably will forever. It was also around this time that Steph realised that she had forgotten her purse, meaning she had no money at all. Fortunately the bank of Beckie came to the rescue for the entire weekend.
After a nap on the flight we arrived in Stansted where Dan proceeded to get lost in a one way system with large signs telling you where to go, this was a recurring theme of the weekend. We met Beckie’s dad who had come to collect her case for her and took Chewy (Beckie’s dog) through the airport, he had a great time. Arriving at Liverpool Street station we met up with Maddie who had taken a different flight and went in search of food. This resulted in burritos on the steps of the station while we played some excellent people watching games including “spot the UKIP voter”. Gillis went off to find a library to finish his essay (which he didn’t) and the rest of us began our selfie tour of London.
We decided to begin at the Tower of London, this was prohibitively expensive so we just took selfies outside with some crafty manoeuvring to avoid the cranes and building work. We also decided that we missed out Swedish compatriot and therefore created an artistic replica so he too could join in the selfie fun.
Our next stop was a river boat in order to get to Westminster. This was perhaps one of the most well intentioned ideas we had over the weekend but in true UDS fashion things didn’t quite go to plan. After taking some London Eye selfies from the boat, unfortunately we somewhat missed Westminster and by somewhat I mean we were idiots and forgot to get off the boat. The boat turned, we didn’t move, and so began our trip back up the Thames. Instead of getting off at the next stop we decided we would go back to Tower Bridge Pier and turn around and just do the journey 3 times. However, we then came to the realisation that the boat would not turn at Tower Bridge but would instead keep on going down the Thames. In short we paid a lot of money to end up back where we started.
At this point, Dan goes off to meet his brother and get a sleeping bag and Steph, Maddie and Beckie go off to do a selfie tour of the Westminster area. Dan calls to tell us he is at Victoria tube station, at some place called “Balls Brothers”. Steph advises him to come and find us. Five minutes later Beckie announces that we are going to a nice place in Victoria called “Balls Brothers” to meet her mum. Steph, Maddie and Beckie then proceed to sit on a bench and laugh at the irony and speculate over how mad Dan will be when he arrives. He arrives around 35 minutes later, without a sleeping bag.
Having taken a selfie at Buckingham Palace we walk back to Victoria where Dan shows us the way to “Balls Brothers”. Classic Beckie’s Classic Mum buys us lots and lots of drinks on her work tab. Our old friend Andrew Malcolm Neale shows up and we all get classically drunk, but none of us can match Classic Jane. It’s also around this time that Classic Jane introduces us to Billy, who we end up crashing with in his very lovely flat. After some time and some sambuca Billy pays for our taxi and our drunk food. A pleasant evening is spent eating food, drinking more nice wine and watching House of Cards.
Saturday morning arrives all too soon. We manage to be so late for reg that they almost cut our team and Dan and Ruairidh have to come up with some crafty stories about where we are. Then we do some debating. It was good. (for anyone that cares Steph and Gillis end up on -1, Dan and Maddie on -2. Steph is very rusty, Gillis does some sassy sums if you want more information we can tell you but really that’s not the important bit). Ultimately “St Andrews RB” break first and win. Basically, Ben Adams couldn’t get a team for Cambridge so came back to represent his one true society for a final time.
During the final we are given traditional South African yakka. This is very strong, it’s undiluted and uses the secret, original recipe. Steph and Gillis drink most of a bottle of it between them. We also have many beers and, of course, Gallo Family White Grenache. We play a horrendous drinking game which gets us all sufficiently not sober. Before leaving for the social Steph has lost her cardigan and Gillis has forgotten his bag – the decent into anarchy has begun.
Buckle up buttercups – this is where things get real.
We all go to the social, we’re not sure where we were. There’s a rumour that it was the UCL Maths building, sambuca was cheap. For a while there is some highly civilised conversation between the St Andreans and Andrew (who has again come along to be the life of the party and escape his 9-5 accounting job). At some point (again, no idea when) the sensible members of the group decide to leave for various reasons (being pro-ammed by Ru Mac, getting a flight the next day, being old). This leaves the three amigos (Steph, Beckie and the Swede) to rough it out. In true debater style they sign post their aims for the night. These included – getting biblically drunk, so drunk that getting to crash was a challenge (this was later made possible by Gillis), shutting down a tube line, and making Steph reveal the secrets of the UDS (Guys, she knows everything) (Don’t worry I didn’t spill).
It is safe to say, we did indeed get biblically drunk. Eventually we decide it is time to go, this is signalled by Gillis passing out on the table. On the walk to the tube station Gillis decides he needs to be a “youth”. In order to achieve this he goes out of his way, like quite far out of his way, to climb smalls walls, walk through flower beds and kick over several traffic cones. With our hooligan in tow, Steph and Beckie realise that the tube does actually stop at some point and spend a solid 5 minutes standing blankly in Euston Station unsure what to do. The hooligan wanders off and must be retrieved several times in those 5 minutes.
We guide our hooligan to a cab. Half way through the journey Beckie notes a sadness in Gillis’ face. Steph suggests he is being the infamous grumpy cat. Beckie decides it is more passive. Turns out it is actually Gillis’ “I’m about to throw up on you” face. Beckie and Steph sit in dead silence for a short while and spend the rest of the journey trying to pretend that all is well.
Much to Beckie’s disappointment the only drunk food option is some sketchy chicken wings, this was not satisfactory. Gillis is looking increasingly unwell and we decide it is time to get him home to Billy’s. Essentially what follows is Beckie and Steph drifting off to sleep when they hear the quiet sound of consequences from the bathroom. After a long time and a shower, Gillis returns in such a state that he can’t work out the sleeping bag and curls up on the chaise lounge under Steph’s coat.
The next morning is relatively fine, Gillis is very embarrassed, and we all leave. Gillis goes off to meet his Swedish friends and Steph and Beckie meet Andrew and go to the St Patricks Day celebrations in Trafalgar Square and go and get cake. Some hours later, back in Essex, Steph receives a text from Billy. Billy is angry. Billy has found Gillis’ vomit behind the sink. Dan decides to travel for about 2 hours after Royal Holloway (where he and Ru broke top, Dan was 6th best speaker and Ru topped the speaker tab) to come to Essex for one night. This is mostly to brag about how clever he is. Upon arrival Dan meets Classic Beckie’s classic Dad who had just polished off the second bottle of wine.
All in all, it was a successful weekend of debating and a weekend of much hilarity and ridiculousness and the UDS should go on tour much more often!