Agony Lad

0th Week

1. I’m a fresher and really excited about Freshers’ Week and coming up to Oxford in general.  However, meeting all these new people can sometimes be a little awkward. For example, should I give a handshake when I meet someone for the first time? Will that make me seem too stiff? What “ice-breakers”, if you will, should I use? A handshake is only the last in a long line of means of introduction. Ideally you’ll have regaled the room, very loudly, about your gap year experiences, prematurely called all the finalists “mate” and unflinchingly strawpaedoed a ketchup bottle at hall. These are the true symbols of the lad. That way you won’t need to shake hands with anyone else (shlads).

2. I am really excited about coming up to Oxford and meeting everybody at Freshers’ Week. I’m slightly worried, however, because I’m not a massive drinker. I actually don’t enjoy drinking vast quantities of alcohol and neither am I a clubbing person. I’d much rather spend a quiet evening in my room with close friends, listening to music and talking all night. Is it still possible to enjoy my Freshers’ Week? I’m sorry, I fell asleep. Let me read that one again … Mate. Shit lad.

3. I’m a finalist and, as this will be my last Freshers’ Week, I’m determined to pull a hot, innocent fresher (or two). I know I can use the “older guy card” but my window of opportunity is very small- if I wait too long all the friendship groups will have already been formed and the girls forever lost to younger, lesser men. Agony Lad, any strategy tips? The first night of university, away from the comfort, security and certainty of home life, leaves even the most confident and attitude-filled ladies at their most vulnerable. This is the perfect time to pounce. The trick is to wear your stash at all times. A woman never finds a man so attractive as when he is wearing his college rugby shirt and/or ski trip sweatpants.

4. This is going to seem like a weird question, but I’ve noticed it is really hard to dry my towels  after I take a shower. It’s making my room damp and smell quite funky. What should I do? In fairness, few student rooms are complete without a pungent dampness. The best solution is to start stockpiling kebabs boxes from nights out. That should mask the smell of damp, whilst giving it a raffish sense of decadent indulgence. Your laddishness will literally seep into the corridor.

5. What’s your opinion on wearing Year 13 Leavers’ Hoodies at university? Do people wear them around Oxford or is it seen as a bit uncool? Unsurprisingly, no one cares where you went to school unless you went to Eton in which case that’ll be clear from such comments as “I fine anyone whose school hasn’t produced 19 Prime Ministers”. However, lesser mortals be warned – having invented a nickname to put on your hoodie to make up for years spent in self-loathing and anonymity will be patently obvious to all around.

Week 1

1. Hi, was wondering how on earth do we use our bod cards? What are they for? Are they a really important part of daily life at Oxford? First rule of Oxford University: don’t get too attached to your bodcard. This may, as a student who’s “like really passionate about my subject”, appear to be the most important object in your possession, but as you’ll soon realise life as a lad in Oxford is not that straightforward. After the inevitable loss of said card strawpaedoing bottle after bottle of luke warm Carling in Shark End, and the “chuck your bodcard in the Cherwell” 5s that seems unavoidable after rugby initiations, you will become acutely aware that your bodcard is as disposable as your degree and dignity.

2. After reading last week’s replies, I know you might not be too helpful but I guess this is a bit of a LAD fresher problem. I’m still going out with a girl from Sixth Form. We promised we’d both cope with a long distance relationship but I’m finding the other freshers on my staircase really attractive and came close to getting off with one of them in Camera last night. What should I do? I think it’s just so beautiful when love transcends secondary/tertiary educational boundaries. Enjoy Camera next week.

3. Two words: Lava Ignite- Have you been there? I think it’s the best club in Oxford! Do you know any better ones? Since the closure of Filth in 2008, Lager and a Fight has fulfilled many an Oxford student’s sticky carpet needs. A true lad will appreciate that it’s not a good night unless you rip your stash off in Shark End, sing Spandau Ballet’s “Gold” at the top of your voice, and cover yourself and any surrounding “mates” with apple VKs. This must all be done with the complete confidence that all of the women around you find you totally irresistible.

4. I’m a fourth year and a lot of my friends graduated last year. I must admit that seeing all these freshers running around the place has made me feel like an ancient, rather ghostly figure around college. I used to be the heart and soul of the JCR but now I’m afraid to even walk in there as I don’t recognise anybody anymore. I know that I have finals to concentrate on, but even so I am worried that this year is going to turn me into a massive loner. Basically, how does an older student like myself go about making a whole new group of friends a second time round? An interesting dilemma indeed. To make new friends in these barren years you could get involved with the Oxford Medieval Reenactment Society or join the Magic Circle. Alternatively, you could return to what you know best: dominating the JCR, having a total disregard for normal social graces, and forcing your laddish personality on many a vulnerable fresher, all whilst consistently holding a penny between forefinger and thumb. After all, the 4th year is the new 3rd year.

Week 2

1. Quick question- are we actually allowed to watch porn using the college internet? I mean, will I get someone knocking on my door if I look at it? That could be really embarrassing and I don’t want to become known as that girl! In this economic climate why not take advantage of your love for this artform and start making your own films. You got into Oxford after all so surely you’re qualified enough to try your hand(s) at anything. Ask any third year lads in your college and I’m sure they’ll give you advice on anything from deep-focus photography to high-angle shots.

2. I’ve got a problem. I’m a fresher and I heeded the universal advice of being ridiculously friendly to everybody I met and in general made a huge effort making friends with people. But now that I am in second week, I’ve found myself surrounded by people who, although perfectly pleasant and sweet,  are not exactly the sort of people I imagined I’d surround myself with at Oxford. It seems that I’ve mistakenly joined the misfit crew and I want out (in the nicest way possible of course)! How do I go about doing this? Is there still time to make new friends or will I forever be branded as one of the geeks? Whoever coined the phrase “Don’t be real, be nice” clearly wasn’t a huge lad. Mate, you’ve made a cardinal sin and may never recover. My condolences. My suggestion, at the next bop shag a few birds (mingers if necessary, lads can be charitable after all) and make an utter tit out of yourself. This may truly be your only chance for salvation.

3. It’s only second week but I’m already a total mess. I’m behind on an essay and missed my lecture yesterday because I’d gone out the day before and stupidly slept through it. Plus I constantly seem to be rushing around and arriving late to everything! How the hell does one manage to balance all the academic work, societies and sports while still maintaining some resemblance of a social life in Oxford? Stop worrying mate. You sound right on your way to a respectable lad’s 2:1.

4. Weird question but how do you make friends with the people you see every week in lectures? Some of them seem really cool/nice/hot but because I don’t go to their college I don’t really know them at all and would feel a bit awkward approaching them and randomly striking up conversation. Tips? You’re clearly not a great white mate. Next time you go to one of your lectures (N.B. only shit lads go to lectures anyway) sit next to the fittest bird in there. Flirt outrageously by regaling her with accounts of how huge you go on a night out, how you found yourself on your gap year/sixth form rugby tour, and the amount of Jager Bombs you can see off in a minute.

5. What subject does the typical lad take? I’m a medicine student – do I too have a chance of one day reaching the lofty heights of ladhood? Lofty heights indeed my man. We lads are a multifaceted tribe and our peoples transcend all disciplines. True laddishness is simple: some have it, others don’t. That you had to ask means you clearly fall into the latter camp. All is not lost though mate… you could always take up rowing.

Week 3

1. I’m a finalist and to be honest after two years I’m a bit fed up of this constant cycle of drinking and essaying. After a while it just gets boring. How have you not grown out of it yet? Are you just a bit simple? Glad to see someone giving me a bit of the banter back. Good lad! I keep things fresh and interesting by going from drinking and essaying to simply drinking. Although your body does start off by resenting your insatiable quest for the lash, it will soon develop into a vehicle for banter, booze, and birds – the Holy Trinity.

2. Anything good on at the Odeon this week? What films does a lad watch? Mate, Paranormal Activity 3 obviously. Any film where a poor unsuspecting female fresher has to frantically turn her head into your chest can only ever lead to one thing. For the sake of cinema goers, let’s hope it isn’t Paranormal Activity 4.

3. I saw Emma Watson! She was walking past Sainsburys with a friend. I’d been expecting this moment for the past few weeks imagining it in my head and when I finally saw her I just froze and stared like a tit and must have creeped her out. How should I act if I ever get the pleasure of seeing her again? It’s all about misplaced confidence my friend. If you see this saucy sorceress out and about again engage her in conversation and invite her out for a night of civilised “chat” at your college bar. If you get to this magical point you must maintain the illusion that you have no idea who she is and indeed, have never heard of this “Barry Trotter” guy that she keeps referring to. Play your cards right and you may hear those spellbinding words at the end of the night… Wingardium Lashiosa!

4. You look down on anybody you don’t consider a “lad” and have this constant arrogant tone. Yet you write some crappy column for a student paper that nobody even reads. Did the Cherwell not require your wisdom? Hi mate. Your results have just come in and I’m afraid to say that you’re L.A.D. negative. Fear not, contact the L.A.D. walk-in clinic as soon as possible to avoid a further outbreak. On a more positive note, I hope rowing’s going well this term.

5. I’ve just realised that these last weeks I haven’t read a proper newspaper once and hence have literally no idea what is happening in the world which is a bit embarrassing. So, what is happening in the world? It’s all about the Gaddafi. We’ve all been in his shoes: In true lad form, you stubbornly refuse to admit that you’re in the wrong, you hold onto a position of power until the last possible moment, and then end up crawling around the floor of Park End, breathing your last, to the delight of a group of young pretenders. The rise and fall of a true lad can be a dramatic one.

6. Me and my friends think we know who you are. You’re at Exeter right? Please tell us if we’re right. As the “Z” is to Zorro, so too is the “L” to Agony Lad. My identity must stay a secret as I’m already getting more gash than I can handle. From now on readers, look out for the inevitable “L” etched on the sweaty walls of many a night time spot in Oxford for hints of my identity. A crate of Guinness and an unlimited supply of pennies for the winning entry.

Our Lad doesn’t go to Exeter but did recently pull someone who does… and if she’s reading this, he’s sorry he never called back. He says he’s been bogged down with answering your tweets @OxStuFeatures or emails to features