I my previous post (see here) I highlighted the concerns regarding the drinking culture at Durham University and how the Labour MP for Durham City, Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods, voted with the student element in the referendum, indeed, in conversations that I had with her on her blog (now deleted by her) she said that she voted that way because of the student vote in Durham, and how important it was to heed their voices.
When it was pointed out to her that the student vote was transient and that her resident constituency had voted massively in favour of Leave she severed contact.
So, going on from the extra curricular activities of the student body in Durham, how they are tying up police time, causing mayhem whilst drunk and in three tragic cases falling into the river and drowning, I present, for your delectation……..
Durham University Champagne Society
From the society’s webpage I give you this:-
“The Durham Champagne Society was established by Carlo Caro and James Edward Fournier in October 2011 in order to introduce students to the culture of champagne tasting and to the diverse and prestigious champagne houses. As a gauge of interest could all those eager to become part of this prestigious society and hear news about our social calendar join the official society group. We look forward to seeing many of you at the social events.
Champagne brands for tasting:
Taittinger: Taittinger Brut Reserve, Taittinger Prestige Rose, Taittinger Nocturne, Taittinger Prelude, and Taittinger Vintage.
Laurent-Perrier: Laurent-Perrier NV, Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose, and Laurent-Perrier Ultra-Brut.
Lanson International: Lanson Black Label, Lanson Rose Label, Lanson Gold Label, Besserat de Bellefon Cuvee des Moines Brut and Champagne Tsarine Brut.”
Nice, I think that you will agree, nothing like a nice glass of champers, is there?
However, combine that with a heavily ingrained drinking culture and you have a heady cocktail indeed.
The Society’s Summer Ball of 2016 is a case in point. It was a glittering affair, 1,300 attended the £99 a head “bash” and the champers flowed like water.
Tatler magazine covered the affair and had this to say about it:-
And now to a ball held in honour of everyone’s favourite tipple: champagne. Yes, that’s right – 1,000 students rocked up to Hardwick Hall to chat, dance and most importantly drink rivers of fizz. Strong arms were required to pour out the Melchizedek (you know, the giant 30-litre bottle of champers), with rowdy revellers taking rather erratic spins on the bumper cars at the specially erected fairground. Later on things went a bit Formula One, with champagne being sprayed all over the girls’ gowns. But just before any rows broke out, trays upon trays of bacon butties appeared.
Sounds like fun, the pictures on the Tatler site show how our future leaders behave when they are off the leash. However, the Tatler article glosses over what really happened at the Summer Ball.
I have made the decision not to show any pictures from this Ball as it may malign those few who may be innocent.
As The Guardian said at the time:
A university champagne society has been investigated after concerns were raised about students taking drugs, openly having sex and jumping naked into a pond during a summer ball earlier this year.
Police were called to Durham University champagne society’s event at Hardwick Hall Hotel, near Sedgefield, in June after reports of rowdy behaviour.
The £99-per-head party, attended by 1,300 people, was featured in society magazine Tatler and it offered a 27-litre bottle of champagne as a raffle prize. “Students rocked up to Hardwick Hall to chat, dance and most importantly drink rivers of fizz,” Tatler reported after the event.
A video of the ball showed students in formal dress enjoying glasses of champagne over a three-course dinner in a marquee. But the event became increasingly raucous, as partygoers began to drink champagne straight from the bottle and one sprayed it over the dance floor.
According to an official investigation by the chief executive of Durham students’ union, police had to be called to the event owing to the severity and volume of incidents that occurred.
Students’ union documents state that some female party-goers collapsed unconscious; one was carried away in a blanket by St John Ambulance volunteers. Evidence of cocaine use was also found.
Police ordered students out of the pond “on a number of occasions” and officers advised that the event should be shut down early owing to high levels of intoxication.
A letter from Sam Dale, Durham university’s deputy academic registrar, to Prof Graham Towl, the university’s pro-vice-chancellor, said police had told Dale that couples were openly having sex. Students were sick on police officers and in the coaches transporting them back to Durham.
Police reported to Dale that attendees were given drinks on arrival, plus two bottles of champagne each with their meal. The hotel took a further £45,000 over the bar.
Durham police said no one was seen taking drugs at the event and no arrests were made.
All good, clean fun.
The bar bill in addition to all the champagne meant that each student also spent around £35 over the bar. Some bash!
Responding to the students’ union investigation, the champagne society wrote: “No society in Durham has ever thrown a ball as big, grand and expensive as the summer ball that was held on June 5. Many students felt that this event was the best event that they had been to in the entirety of their time in Durham.
“However, due to the scale of the event, amongst other factors, we do recognise that there were problems at the ball and would like to thank the police for their report.”
Regarding police reports that students were vulnerable owing to the level of intoxication, the society added: “Laurent-Perrier delivered to us magnums instead of single bottles by accident. This vastly increased the amount of champagne that was made available to the students.”
Well, it is ALWAYS someone else’s fault, isn’t it? No intention of excercising restraint, keeping a few magnums of champers back, donating them as raffle prizes for the poor, the homeless or the aged of the community.
Nope, just smash it back over the tonsils and vomit it back out over Plod later. Nice!
Some quotes from The Tab, a student based and written, online resource:-
Allegations have been thrown around aplenty but in those accusations lies the most truth – the following are but to name a few of overheard conversations and lingering quotes alike heard from the depths of Elvet to the social hub of the Billy-B discussing what actually was said at the biggest party DH1 has ever seen:
- “I’ve seen more bottles alone in daddy’s wine cellar.”
- “Caviar is a must have on the menu.”
- “2016 was merely a reference to the vintage, not the number of bottles.”
- “I’m not drinking tonight.”
- “Clinton’s bound to win.”
- “Never have I ever downed a whole bottle of champers.”
- “It’s not like this’ll go public.”
- “I haven’t been this drunk since Henley.”
- “This event is going swimmingly.”
- “That’s not what I meant when I ordered Magnums ice-cream.”
- “I’m a bit out of my depth.”
- “This doesn’t taste like water…”
- “Pass a coke, Charlie.”
- “I’ve never had so high spirits.”
- “Pigs in blankets and it’s not even Christmas!”
- “I’ve had fewer lines in last year’s musical.”
- “Laurent Perrier slides down much like Newcastle’s academic rating.”
The now publicly renowned Durham University Champagne Society has been put on probation whilst the authorities uncover the truths behind that remarkable night in June. However, if there’s one thing we can at least say in certainty is that, with over £45,000 spent behind the bar, there certainly ‘aint no party like a Hardwick party!
I am sure that Dr Blackman-Woods’ constituents, hard working horny handed sons of toil, appreciate her allegiance to this over privileged section of society, indeed, putting their views over and above those of her resident constituents.
Dr Blackman-Woods’ majority stood at 12,364 at the last election, built from 3,274 when she was elected in 2005.
© Grimy Miner 2018