As inebriated freshers wander around the streets and shops suddenly stock copious amounts of shaving foam, it is difficult for those who have experienced Raisin weekend not to think back to our Raisins of yesteryear. But my raising was not what you could call ‘typical’.
I had a sober Raisin.
Drinking is one of the main things associated with Raisin – it inspires an alcohol shortage in Tesco, vomit on Market Street and the yearly reminder about anti-social behaviour. As a result, when I tell people that my Raisin experience involved precisely no alcohol, it invariably causes more than a few side-glances.
Leading up to the weekend, I was genuinely concerned. You hear the horror stories. Would I be able to get parents? Would there be soul-destroying public humiliation? Would I be forced to drink alcohol?
The problem was I never drink. This is not because of religious reasons or a particularly convincing lecture from my mother; I just don’t like the way alcohol makes me feel. The most I have ever drunk is one can of Strongbow Dark Fruit. It was simply not for me. But to some, Raisin is one long drinking game: an alcoholic all-day tea party followed by a massive party. I wanted no part in that sort of weekend.
Fortunately for me, I managed to get adopted by the nicest mother on the planet. She had a wife and was planning to team up with two more friends, so I’d have two mothers, two aunties and cousins. With mothers like that, who needs a father? When I raised my concerns about drinking, they were immediately addressed. My mum asked if I minded others drinking. I said no.
“OK”, she chirped. “What do you think about cupcake forfeits?”
And that was that.
Best. Mum. Ever.
The day of Raisin approached. Nervousness, fear, and a small amount of dread clung to my stomach, despite all the assurances. Arriving precisely at 7:13am with my sister through a feat of amazing stealth – we hid behind a tree- we avoided the ‘keen bean baked bean’ punishment shot. I did not, however, manage to avoid the vanilla milkshake provided in Stairway to Heaven. Our Stairway to Heaven had two sides – alcoholic and non-alcoholic. I was so relieved.
Various other games followed, with forfeits if we broke the rules. Breaking the breadstick wand – forfeit. Saying a particular word – forfeit. I wasn’t great at that one and got to belt out ‘I’ll Make A Man Out of You’ from Mulan at full volume. One of the highlights of the day!
Note – no alcohol forfeit.
A mad dash Treasure Hunt around the town centre came next. All the children frantically trying to find a kipper, a condom and a dog. The good news was that I wasn’t cellotaped together like my sister and cousin. The bad news was that I was wearing the Dunce outfit.
Throughout all this, I didn’t drink. I had elderflower pressé, sparkling fruit juice, non-alcoholic wine. Even shots of pure caramel syrup! The rest of my family drank steadily over the day, I didn’t. And I wasn’t left out or ignored. Though I do think I got slightly sugar high from the syrup…
The next day was just as hectic. D-Day. Armageddon. The Foam Fight.
Chaos had erupted on Main Street – processions of wizards, a family of kitchen appliances and a large family holding up a throne to carrying their parents. Then us, the Trolls, clutching our Receipt. All heading into the Battle Royale. Shaving foam got everywhere and I lost my academic sisters 5 seconds in. I stayed as long as I could, then came out. I said goodbye to my parents and this fun, unique experience, then proceeded to trudge back to DRA a sodden, sober, mess.
I wasn’t missing out. I wasn’t holding back. I was having fun and embracing the tradition.
And I’ve remembered it all.
That’s the thing about a lot of alcohol – it can give you a bit of memory loss. There’s probably loads of St Andrews students who even now can’t remember any more of Raisin than a blur of alcohol and colours. Or nothing at all. But I will. So, as I reflect on my Raisin weekend, it has to be one of the craziest and most unforgettable experiences I have ever had…whilst stone cold sober.