Bearing in mind he oversees licensing, our new "Kulture Minister" would not seem `fit for purpose. The Cambridge Evening News (not online) reports tonight that Andy Burnham - Labour Minister for tackling teenage drinking - has admitted being a member of Fitzwilliam College "Mornie Onion Society", a male only drinking club.
Initiation consisted of downing a yard of ale with an onion floating on top whilst naked or wearing just a towel. The Society's main aim is "dedicated to getting drunk".
Respect. Or totally shocking, depending on your point of view. Might be difficult to hurl the word Bullingdon at David Cameron after this revelation...
PS Anyone got a pic of a naked Mr Burnham? I ask out of professional, rather than personal, interest, you understand. Natch.
UPDATE 8pm: It seems this was in the Times and Mail at the weekend. Guess I ought to change my reading habits and ditch the Cambridge Evening News, eh?
I'd be interested to know if this drinking club also went round smashing up restaurants, or indeed if it was admission by invite only, and then if it's members had to be rich enough to underwrite the damage they caused? There's nothing shocking about a University society dedicated to getting drunk. If you think this is his 'Bullingdon Moment' then you've slightly misunderstood the whole point of the Bullingdon Club.
Ooooh- a piccie of Burnham in the scud?! Yes please! He's a nice bit of totty- but wears more eyeliner than Liz Lynne (and that takes some doing)!
A yard of ale with an onion floating on top.
How does that work, then?
Asherly it was in The Times on Saturday.
al - DOES the Bullingdon go round smashing up restaurants?
There is one news story where one group claiming to be 'Bullingdon' did. But any others? I have lived in Oxford 20 years and am aware of no other reports in the Press.
Believe me there are far worse groups than Bullingdon Club in Oxford - your main bitch is that some students are well off.
Your differentiation is slim and pathetic. Young men go to college - young men do silly things - young men get a bit of education.
Burnham is MP for Leigh in what we must call 'Greater Manchester' - he comes from Liverpool but he and his party are happy to claim to be local. Tell that to Crewe and Nantwich Labour Party.
... alway knew that FitzBillies were a bunch of pi**artists...
It was not the most intellectually talented college.
The Mail on 8 June and The Times on 7 June carried this story.
One of Andy's former student friend's said
"Everyone drinks in their university days but I find it strange that the man charged with curbing binge drinking in this country was himself a member of an exclusive drinking society that was notorious in the Cambridge network."
I'd suggest that ONLY someone who has experienced the Bacchanalian joys of youthful excess without having caused criminal damage or without having committed any offence against anything but their own liver is qualified to act as alcohol Tsar, with the proviso that they continue to enjoy the manifold blessings of the grape and the grain.
Putting abstentionist Puritans in charge of Joy is about as sensible as making Margaret Beckett Minister of Singing.
Or "as sensible as making Margaret Beckett" er, Foreign Secretary.
Look at Labour's incumbents of this post and you can see why they are so morally and intellectually vacuous that they annointed Brown PM unelected.
Andy recently came to my daughter's sixth form college to give a speech.
Me: How was it?
Mind you it was the morning and, I assume, Andy had not had a drink by then. Perhaps he gets less boring later on during the day?
I believe that various photographs were taken, but sadly Andy remained fully clothed. Sorry about that Iain.
These Oxbridge types never could handle their booze. Real drinkers go to a proper university, like London, for instance :-)
Raedwald: a beautiful bit of prose, if I may say so.
Iain: you hinted at it and here it is....
Andy Burnham in shock man-on-man photograph
If, dear reader, photos of balls bother you, then please do not follow this link.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
I was terribly shocked I have to say.
But then I was terribly shocked when I first saw it. How anyone can expect to get re-elected when they show vast amounts of white flesh above their stocking tops is beyond me.
The saddest thing about this apart from your extreme lateness Iain is that Andy is only (so far) in one of these lower orders drinking clubs. Most students manage at least two or three clubs of abuse and a yard of ale with an onion in it in a towel is hardly carnage.
And I agree with Raedwald.
The Bullingdon is clearly in a very different place and trevorh is playing us for fools.
One club - flying pint if you forget your tie - other club - need to be a millionaire and yes the excess is pro rata to the wealth.
God damn bloody onions.
Rather as I imagined, it looks like Balls wears cheap shoes as well.
No surprise there then.
It is about time this 'on the make' greaser got his come-uppance...
Iain - slight difference here. A few pissed-up students drinking ale in their all-together is not quite the same as an obnixious and odious bunch of well-to-do toffs who join a club 'by invitation only' (i.e. to keep out the poor people), who then go around metering out criminal damage as a sign of their (unearnt) wealth.
And I say this as a meritocratic Tory!
My (sadly expired) membership of the University of Essex 'Old Crusty Bellendians' drinking club has nothing to do with this view!
This one has a definite corked edge to it.
What is it about the New Refined Tories that they have given up the booze, forsworn the demon drink (but still can't distinguish their childminder from their message taker)?
Even Blasted Boris is shocked to discover a cache of "fine wine" in City Hall. Which, according to one count, totals just over a couple dozen bottles of Châteauneuf du Pape. As Max Hastings augustly put it: "risible - the Bullingdon Club uses Châteauneuf as paintstripper."
Scipio, given the time of the evening, I won't tweak you about the sloppy typing, but what is wrong with club membership "by invitation only"? A club is a private organisation and can set any rules it chooses, without reference to the UK Thought Police.
" who then go around metering [I said I wouldn't comment on spelling, given the hour, and I won't] out criminal damage as a sign of their (unearnt) wealth."
Would it be OK to meter out damage if they had earned their wealth? They're young, they're stupid, they think they're the lords of the universe. Were you never young and stupid? Don't you approve of passing wealth down through families?
Get a grip, and I don't mean on your glass.
Not Oxbridge are you Iain?
I'd say about 50% of male students were members of drinking societies when I was at Cambridge in the nineties. The qualification for mine was to have played one game for the college second XV.
The Pitt Club (which is the Cambridge version of the Bullingdon I guess) was very elitist and nasty. One sixe certainly does not fit all when it comes to drinking societies.
Now, Fitzwilliam as a college had a reputation for taking a high proportion of students from state schools in the north and adding a lot of value.
I did not know that Andy went to Fitzwilliam or was in a drinking society. My opinion of him is now enhanced.
I'm not sure about "notorious in the Cambridge network". I was at the university for bleedin' years, and hubby did ten years there at the coal face before becoming a lecturer - neither of us had ever heard of the Onions before this weekend. Being from Fitz, I imagine they keep to themselves in their concrete hellhole.
I do remember some non-Onion drinking society carnage, but the only really serious incident was about fifteen years ago - toilets being ripped off walls in the Anchor pub (the toilet rippers-off were sent down). Other drinking society japery tended towards the relatively harmless and surreal - like the giant penis drawn in photocopier toner on the lawn at Sidney Sussex the day before a very important visit by some foreign donors. Photocopier toner is not water soluble, so it sat there in tumescent glory until it grew long enough to be mowed out. One culprit was caught because he'd left a trail of toner running from the library to the lawn and all the way to his bedroom - I think they ended up fining him £100. And I'm sure he's risen to greatness since.
All the same - it pains me to reflect that much as we might want them to be, naked young men balancing onions on bits of their anatomy are not at all common in the streets of Cambridge.
Sounds like we need a quick verse of the 'Eton boating song' as we watch Trinity First and Thirds slide over the river horizon to get completely blotto...
(Trinity's boat club)
Our state-school teenage drinking society (or "sixth form" as it was also known) managed the singular feat of causing The Eagle to go Over-21s only for a few weeks back in the mid-90s.
Given that the average age of Friday night drinkers then was 16.5yrs, it was a major step for them to take!
We smuggled their 12ft courtyard xmas tree out past the bouncers - diversionary tactics involving 17 y/old girls in low-cut tops were used to great effect - and got half-way down Benet St before having to leg it.
At the same time a lad called Damian projectile vomited over one of the bar staff, which rather killed the festive mood.
Over-21s only for Friday nights from then on, although after two weeks of seeing the Anchor take all their business the bouncers were pretty much dragging us back in.
Youthful high-spirits ("boys will be boys!"), or despicable vandalism by anti-social yobs... guess it depends how much is in your Trust Fund. ;-)
not really buller league, iain. the point of the buller is social exclusivity, not getting drunk. that's the problem with it for 'modernisers'.
Boris did his best to invoke memories with the "last night of the Tube day-nighter" complete with rioting. Pity so many oiks crashed it - at least a couple from UEA even probably! Ugh!
Did Burnham dabble with the white stuff too?
"the point of the buller is social exclusivity" -- oh so sporting exclusivity is alright is it?
And you Mr Chris Paul ... "The Bullingdon is clearly in a very different place and trevorh is playing us for fools." ... thanks for proving to me you know absolutely nothing about what goes on in universities like Oxford. Its OK for Burnham to join an exclusive sporting drinking club but wrong for someone to join some other exclusive club.
Your self serving bigotry Mr Paul is mind wrenching ... but that's the trouble with you oh so morally superior lefties, you always forget about the plank in your own eye.
This must be why the police have just advised us poor wee Cambridge folk not to venture out alone after dark. Marauding gangs of budding culture secretaries have taken over the streets.
(The Cambridge Evening News tends to be a bit behind on national news. I prefer the Royston Crow, you (honestly) get headlines like 'Pet Tortoise Goes Missing')
Just to elevate the level of this blog, I have information of interest to all takers of romantic punting trips in Cambridge, and to investigators of unexplained fish mortality. I live near the Cam, upstream of the city. If I’m fishing and need a pee, you really don’t think I’ll walk 200 metres back to the house when there’s a river right in front of me, do you?
I tend to go fishing on warm summer evenings, which is of course when students most commonly jump into the river. Just think, I may well have baptised a future political leader. The thought is reassuring, given what they seem to do to us.
PS I can do requests, if anyone wants.
I was also a member of a drinking club at my college (UCL.) It was the editorial team that ran the student magazine.
I was also a member of a drinking club at my college (UCL.) It was the editorial team that ran the student magazine.
Indeed. The one drinking club at Cambridge when I was there that was singly dedicated to drinking themselves into oblivion as often as humanly possible was the Varsity editorial team.
I, too, never heard of the Mornie Onion in my time there. The ones renowned for nastiness were the Patricians at Downing who apparently drank vomit as part of their initiation, though whether their own or someone else's is not recorded. (which is odd, because to me that would make quite a difference..)
The Pitt Club (which is the Cambridge version of the Bullingdon I guess) was very elitist and nasty.
I wasn't a member, but I was friends with enough people who were to get invited along a few times. I wouldn't have said 'elitist and nasty' so much as 'posh gay bar.' Amusingly, their HQ was above Pizza Express, although the dining room was quite nice.
"I, too, never heard of the Mornie Onion" - I guess you would not if you were not interested in sport.
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