As readers of my food blog will know, tonight I am hosting a vegan dinner party with a friend. I just got back from buying vegetables for it – I was in charge of anything fresh while my friend bought tofu, pine nuts, olives, artichokes, avocadoes (bought at the weekend in the hopes they would be ripe by today) and so forth.
One small hiccup in the plan was that we invited 10 people, and eight of them are coming. That means a total of ten people for dinner, and neither my kitchen nor my room are big enough. I booked a common room, but in the process spotted a sign saying “Absolutely no parties at all this term”. According to the college, a party is any gathering with six or more people. Some other colleges specify the presence of alcohol as making something into a party, and some take the probably more sensible approach of defining a party as a certain number of people plus alcohol. But here, just six people in a room makes it a party.
Obviously the prohibition of parties is because exams are taking place this term, and people don’t want to be disturbed by lots of noise. Our solution is two-fold: firstly, we will instruct our guests not to be noisy. Everyone who is coming is part of the chapel team, so is practised in the art of sitting quietly. Secondly, if someone happens to check the room to make sure that there are no parties going on, the two of us who are college members will claim that we each have four guests, and that our simultaneous presence in the room is entirely coincidental…
Hopefully it won’t come to that. I do think that the college rules could benefit from being a little more nuanced: under the current system, spontaneous and unauthorised parties occur quite frequently in my kitchen when several people decide to cook at the same time, and there’s a non-stop party taking place in the college library. However, five people sitting the gardens shrieking with laughter in front of 200 bedroom windows isn’t restricted at all. Bit daft really.