A fresher’s memories of Raisin

foam fight 2016
Photo: Harry Gunning

Having finally recovered enough to write, first year George Wilder has penned a recap of his Raisin Weekend, to the best of his memory. 

Photo: Wikimedia
Photo: Wikimedia

00.01: As tales of dog food eating, flogging, and unholy amounts of chunder twirled through my mind like a satanic vodka luge, I struggled to avoid hyperventilating. The day was finally here: Prepare yourself, George.

2.00: Pounding at the door, paired with the unnerving combination of “Hold out your hands!” and “Down it!” heralded the start of my roommate’s raisin. I shivered at the thought of my missing matriculation card, which currently resided in the pocket of a father who has promised me a “memorable Raisin.” I tried to go back to sleep, hoping that “memorable” at least meant I wouldn’t pass out before midday.

5.30: The phone call arrived and for a moment I hesitated to answer, horror movie trivia telling me that it was categorically a bad move. Despite my inhibitions, I picked up the phone and listened. The words “Outside, five minutes” sparked a hurried dressing and running ritual that only ended when my academic brother and I stood outside Sallies to await our fate.

5.40: Two cars pulled up and we walked towards them, the faint early morning light shrouding the faces of the drivers. As we approached, it became apparent that they were masked. Only then did our father appear, orange boiler suit donned, to cable tie and blindfold us before our first shots of the day. Admittedly at this point the drama was slightly dented by me, as my blindness and poor coordination made for five awkward minutes attempting to climb into one of the hatchbacks. Yet, I composed myself alongside my siblings, trying to ignore the image implied by the in-car music: a clown-scare dubstep track promising me that balloons, candy, and indeed a small carnival would soon end up inside me.

5.50: The cars stopped and the doors opened. Now, we awaited our next stage of raisin revelry. The dark silence of the journey is replaced by me being poked for five nonstop minutes. The source of this poking remains a mystery to this day. Before I had a chance to file suitable restraining order(s), we were being led upstairs and forced onto our knees, another shot soon flowing down our throats. Between our lack of knowledge regarding the Barney theme tune, our inability to sing the entire national anthem, and our failure to find and pray towards Mecca, the shots quickly rained down upon us like vomit-inducing artillery.

raisin weekend police
Photo: Harry Gunning

6.20: Soon after the first set of challenges, we started to feel the inevitable effects. Vision became hazier, confidence grew, and livers started to wonder what the hell was going on. Weak attempts to maintain the silence descended into open laughter as we were water-boarded with Tennent’s, an attitude towards torture that would aggravate the upper ranks of ISIS. The taste of Scottish Lager was complimented by cat food. (One of the party remarked that it tasted “just like John West,” before asking for a second helping.) The sum of these occurrences were enough to convince our captors that the cable-ties were no longer necessary, as we seemed to end up rolling on the floor anyway.

6.40: Tuna depleted and limbs liberated, it was time to be on the move once again. After being gifted with a paddling pool, flour, eggs, ironic sultanas, and a whole host of other ominous ingredients we were told to be at Castle Sands in 10 minutes.

7.40: The following hour lacks the clarity of my other memories, but in the mixture I recall myself brawling with my academic sister over a playing card; tackling my Tennent’s-bearing brother to the ground; beating the eggs tied to my academic sister with baguettes; and other snapshots that make me question quite what was in the cat food that morning. I remember that we rallied at the end, brought back together under the prospect of breakfast, and began our pilgrimage back to town.

9.30: Suddenly I was walking to my academic mother’s with my sister, meaning the nuances of breakfast will forever remain a mystery. I glimpsed a staircase full of dirty drinks, some very unlucky card draws from me, and a camera whose videos will become the ultimate culprit for me never being able to land a job. Where were we again?

10.30: Flash-forward to me doing a wheelbarrow race, and coming second! This was a grand personal achievement, as my last sports medal was panning for gold at Legoland. Sadly I was foiled again as I rolled away to avoid my sister’s promise that she was “going to wet herself.” Tiring of our inability to even do a sack race, our parents packed us off on a scavenger hunt that would bring us right to brink of what Dutch courage is capable of.

12.30: Half way through the day and I was just finishing proposing to a stranger, before trying to serenade my cashier in Tesco. She replied with rejection in the form of, “Do you want your receipt?” and a deadpan expression. She clearly wasn’t feeling the love tonight. Not put off, I headed to my dad’s and, while having drinks piped into my mouth from the balcony, started to feel I was doing pretty well so far. How naïve I was.

14.30? This time of the day holds as many questions for me as it does answers, so that’s all I really have to offer you. Why, for example, was someone falling off the roof? Why was there an aubergine on the hob? Who even were these people?

??? Like many of mankind’s great mysteries – Atlantis, The Temple of Artemis, Donald Trump’s tax returns – my evening Raisin has been lost to the annals of Snapchat snippets and a series of messages to my siblings, including:

  1. Skate the next plan
  2. Mugwump borrr Cariambe
  3. The spatula is strings before the dawn

20.00: (Power nap begins)

21.00: (Power nap ends)

22.00: My memory returns to me as a dazed and confused, but alive, student on the walk from Argyle Street to Dervish, where enough chicken nuggets and pizzas were being produced to feed a mob worthy of Ancient Rome. Grabbing my order, we sat for a while to soak in the late night orchestra of drunken confessions and stolen chip accusations, all amid the toiling percussion of “who’s next please”.

23.50: In final stages of Sunday, the St Andrews Savannah was littered with few survivors. Tales of pass-outs as early at 7.30 filled social media and the Instragram BNOC’s hoarded their best photos for the Monday like-spree. After a struggle with a certain fence, I found myself sitting in the castle* with what remained of my family, looking out at the fireworks.

(*To clarify this wasn’t the St Andrews Castle, that’s closed and completely impenetrable with its four-foot fence. This was another similar but otherwise completely unrelated castle. Ahem.)  

foam fight 2016
Photo: Harry Gunning

1.00: Those with enough alcohol continued to rage in some parts of town, climbing on street signs and calling for an encore of Darude’s Sandstorm in complete disregard of the many Fife Police warnings. I, on the other hand, chose to head home. As I ascended the stairs of Sallies, I spotted something on the floor. Picking it up, I saw a sweet potato engraved with the word “Sweet Steven” and wrapped in ribbon. Examining the unfortunately named lump (it sounded like a lacklustre stripper), I ruminated on the events of the day, and how much weirder “Steven’s” had been than mine. I sighed and pulled myself up to bed, putting the poor root vegetable in the lift and hoping as I did that he could find a better home. 

The next day

11.00: A morning of bacon sandwiches and messages titled “Are you alive” was more an indication of Raisin Monday morning than the rising of the sun itself. At any other time of the year it might have seemed strange that at 11 am, I was standing in full Ghostbuster kit, complete with twelve cans of shaving foam strapped to me. But this was no Gillette fetish, for once. Rather, it was time to maintain the anchors of tradition that hold in place one of the most respected universities on earth: it was time for the foam fight.

11.30: Foam flew, outfits ripped, poses were pulled, profile pictures posted. Yet, at the heart of it, the foam fight was where everyone got a chance to reflect on what the past day and a half have meant, between spitting out mouthfuls of foam and trying to get in the Daily Mail. What it meant was that every student from every country and every background had a family to get involved with, whether that involved waterboarding with beer, being slapped with a salmon, or a glass of fine wine with cheese.

It’s this kind of unity that ensures you leave St Andrews with far more than a degree: you leave with an experience.


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