The last equation. A final proof read of the essay. The end of your chapter. It’s 2022 and work has finished for the day. The evening, with the brightening moon and blackening sky, is making its presence known through your single-glazed window. Yet, bed doth beckon not – your evening is to be spent at CUCA! Fine port, auburn pints, nostalgic banter about redcoats, High Mass and the 1983 election – these ideas occupy your politically engaged cranium as you trot with alacrity to Pembroke Old Library. A liberated, small ‘c’ conservative and boozy night awaits!
Yet, after a while of searching, a kind porter tells you the library is closed. Your Tory chums are nowhere to be found. An update tells you the location has been changed. Down to the dreaded basement you go, holding your breath as you realise fresh air and natural light are to be unavailable for a few sweaty hours. At least there’ll be plenty of port though! Even a cheeky pint or three after...No. Upon entering this cellar of faux tweed and beige chinos, a fact unthinkable in traditional CUCA circles slaps you across your almost tearful face. ‘Own Brand French Fortified Wine-inspired Alcoholic Grape drink’ sits atop the plastic table. A sanguine yet wry smile steals your cheeks as you sip this barely-a-unit-per-glass substance of questionable origin. What a disappointment.
At least the speeches, so often satirical in nature and outrageous in content, are still going to be worth hearing! You check the topics, what tendentious ideas will arise from the contentious triumvirate of topics invented by the committee today? The death penalty for paedos, re-enact the Novichok incident in Moscow, use foxes to hunt down hunt saboteurs? Of course not, – this is wet CUCA! Below the bold-font trigger warning you read ‘TH believes in the digitalisation of tax, a second referendum and bypassing Prince Charles’ – absolutely thrilling stuff – if you voted remain, enjoy the quality of debate at CULA and don’t gag at the words ‘One Nation’.
When the night ends at 22:30 sharp, you begin to relax after an evening of painfully Cameronite and Cleggian chit-chat, taking solace in the remaining hour and a half you have to spend in the Maypole. As you wander out of Pembroke, down past Catz and the Corpus clock, the herd of brown brogues and mock Barbours takes a sharp left and forms an orderly queue for BrewDog – a craft beer ‘bar’! The final straw pulled, you are the camel and the match has broken your back. Leaving with sobbing ducts and a relieved liver, you head back to your room and remember what CUCA had been for so long before its 2021 CCHQ-led reform by the wets.
Since 1921, through war and peace, from aristocracy to the horny handed sons of the soil, members of CUCA have ensured a bastion of free speech and boozed-up political liberty is active in Cambridge. The very name of the association has rung out through the university for years, as though those hallowed words of ‘Cambridge conservative’ were the political substitutes of the Sunday church bells, calling the flock to the rooms of the old colleges, signalling the pouring of fine port and auburn pints, and inviting those who believe in history, Queen, country - and Thatcher – to attend a service powered by a cacophony of not liturgical sermons, but political pontificating. This may sound romantic, nostalgic, even deranged, but I assure you, CUCA is at a crossroads – and it must remain dry.