all quotes taken from The Grey Tradition at Formal Meals, a sheet I recieved at some point in the last week and a half.

All students wear gowns.
Gowns, for those not used to dressing up for these sorts of events, are large, cloak-like garments for wearing over suits. Grey College's gowns are black, and have the curious property of making certain first year postgraduates look suspiciously like slightly over-grown Harry Potters (see my Harry Potter and Durham writeup, if you like blatant nodevertising). They have large pleats at the back of the neck, designed for correcting the stooping posture of the young, and look ridiculus.
It is recommended [by the college] that no more than half a bottle of wine per person should be brought to the table.
It should be noted that the students, on the other hand, consider any less than half a bottle of wine to be most unsuitable, and that a whole bottle each is recommended. This is because of 'the game', carefully ignored by the official documentation. The game requires a supply of pennies, although it's not essential that you bring any to the table with you. You'll gain them soon enough.

The game is very simple. Whenever someone drops a penny in your wine, you have to down it - not immediately, but within a reasonably short length of time. (At the time is considered polite, however). Any rules that may have existed regarding multiple pennies in wine glasses, or chains of wine glasses (when someone drops a penny into a glass of someone who has dropped a penny in an undrunk glass) are generally alluded to, but not used. An additional rule is that if someone comes to your table and asks:

Do you know the rules of the game?

the correct response is:

It'd be rude not to.

The meal commences.
College food is much like hospital food or school dinners. It's mass-produced, and generally less than high-quality, but with a budget of less than £2 per person, per day for food, churning out hundreds of meals three times a day, it's the best they can do - and it is usually edible.

There is a £2.50 surcharge for formals, to cover the additional cost of the food, and it's well worth it, for a three course meal which is actually quite nice. There are still the inevitable issues when large amounts of diners have to be fed at once, but it's quite a pleasant meal. Whether the almost total inebriation of the diners has anything to do with this is unknown.

There should not be any excessive noise or unruly behaviour.
Members of the High Table will then all leave the Dining Hall.
Once the bigwigs have left, we can do as we please. This usually involves finishing your meal, moving down to the college bar, moving to DH1 (better known as Rixies), Café Rock, or Klute, to continue the drunken revelries. Alternatively, a quick visit to the toilet may be in order for those suffering from the side effects of alcohol poisoning, possibly coupled by drinking lots of fluids and an early night for that all important 9am lecture the following morning.

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