There are many rumours about the Jesters Challenge and its reward, the Jesters Gold Card, which gives free entry and queue jump plus one for life (except for Mondays unfortunately). Previously, candidates had to attend Jesters six nights in a row, arriving before 11.30 and remaining until after 1.30. The lack of publication of this challenge meant that before the Ferstival, only four students held this impressive badge of loyalty to Jesters and the sacred Jesticle.
This year, Jesters issued a new challenge. This was simply to remain there from opening of the Ferstival at 1pm to closing at 3am the next morning. According to nearby sources, the four students who owned the card before are ‘livid’ that this opportunity was given to so many students as ‘they went through hell’ to gain theirs in a long and Jesticle filled week.
On Friday, a crowd of excited and impatient students started growing at half twelve on the Friday afternoon, and five minutes after opening, both Clowns and the garden was milling around with those eager to attempt the challenge. Jesters, with its suspicious stains on the floors, that mysteriously rancid smell and the blood coloured paint, has never been much of a sensuous delight. For the Ferstival however, the sun was shining, the garden had haystacks scattered around, and the smell of BBQ was soon wafting through the air. You could have almost forgotten you were in Jesters, until the free BBQ burgers were served, containing a meat not quite identifiable, with a healthily dollop of a bizarre mixture claiming to be apple sauce.
Although the free food was much appreciated, Jesters strength does not lie in their culinary skills. However, the range of ciders, although perhaps not quite containing the one hundred types advertised, was a definite success. The outside bar boasted an impressive range, from the fruity mixes of Brothers ciders, to the tramps’ favourite, White Ace. There were even luminous neon ciders which dyed the drinker’s lips bizarre colours.
The first few hours passed with card games, board games and lazing about in the sun. By 4pm, it started to get busier, with the first few failures of the day being carted off by friends before they made too much of a scene. By 6pm, bums were starting to go numb as tables were jealously guarded, and one student begun to complain that he ‘felt like crap’.
Luckily live music soon started up, with acoustic renditions of the usual Jesters’ cheesy music. Unfortunately this did not drown out the main entertainment of the night: the voices of several highly irritating people on the table next to me. Insisting on regaling us with their outrageous, often worrying, and highly doubtable sexual encounters, the time only dragged more slowly, and the prospect of a further eight hours trapped next to them seemed too horrific to contemplate. By 11pm the cider had run low and the Jesticle again reigned supreme, destroying anyone’s hopes of staying sober to ensure they completed the challenge. By 1.30am, there were a few who, so desperate to remain and collect a Gold Card, has fallen asleep in the corners of the garden.
However, 3am soon came, and the victorious waited nervously at the bottom of the stairs, unsure of whether venturing outside too soon would disqualify them. Reminiscent of a scene in a WW1 war drama, everyone bravely decided they had been in Jesters long enough, and together slowly climbed up the stairs, ‘over the top’, into the real world.
Thirsty festival- goers drank Jester’s dry as the cider supply was finished before the end of Friday night, which is perhaps one reason why one hundred and twenty people failed to remain until the very end. However, the Wessex Scene is proud to announce that out of the three hundred who attempted the challenge, one hundred and eighty of the Southampton Student population stayed strong in the face of too much time and too much cheap cider, and have been elevated to the status of Gold Card Holders.