BNOC nonsense


The Stand’s publication of a shortlist of ‘big names on campus’ two weeks ago attracted a lot of attention, most of it negative. One need only peruse the comments left by the many people perturbed by the article in question to see just how badly the whole exercise went down with the assumedly ‘small names on campus’. Perhaps they have a point. Perhaps The Stand are reinforcing the current status quo in town where douche bagging is revered, and the modest and inconspicuous are left to rot somewhere in the Badlands. Who knows? One certainly has to ask questions of those responsible for the competition. “What on earth were they thinking?” might be a suitable start. At the very kindest interpretation, the editors knew that a controversial piece like this would get their website plenty of hits, and plenty of hits mean more advertising revenue.

But let us not get caught up in petty grievances with The Stand’s editorial policy. Instead let us learn just what is needed to become cool, through a closer look at the BNOCs themselves. For many of us, the art of being cool has been a complete mystery since childhood, known only to the select few. While we may have tried and failed at times to replicate their talents, never before have we had such an objective analysis from which to study and assimilate what it is to be cool. So let us thank The Stand for finally making it so easy and see what exactly makes us cool.

1. Double-barrelled names

“James Calder-Smith”, “Patrick Leigh-Pemberton”, “Tarleton Watkins-The-Third”. Is it a coincidence that three out of the four finalists have such long-winded names? Of course it isn’t, dear readers. To be a BNOC, one must have a BNOC. Unfortunately this means the delightful Amy Heather immediately fell behind in the race, but it is not too late for you to escape the same fate. Head to your nearest Post Office and immediately add an accoutrement of your choice to your surname. The more ridiculous, the cooler you will be. Nothing is off-limits, as the “Baker-Bakers” and “Wellesley-Wesleys” will very well tell you (both genuine surnames I have come across). Then get ready for fashion season baby because everybody will want to know what you’re wearing.

2. Commitments

Whether it’s trying your hand as the amateur financier, strutting down a catwalk or maintaining a slightly too familiar relationship with Tesco’s biscuit aisle, all our BNOCs have serious commitments. It would seem you can’t make it anywhere in this town without your diehard allegiance to one “charity event” or another plastered all over your Facebook page. If you’re going to take this advice on board then I strongly suggest you opt for the corporate route and follow in the footsteps of the hiring, firing and perspiring Ms Heather. Being an SNOC, chances are that you, like me, are far too ugly to pout your way into one of the many fashion shows knocking about town, and as we all know, to make it in this life you either have to be good-looking, or rich. Once you’ve weasled your way into GIG’s upper echelons a glamorous life rubbing shoulders with “CEOs and Chief Execs” (are these not the same thing?) is yours to call your own. Congratulations, you are now one step closer to the coke-fuelled asphyxi-wank suicide that awaits you.

3. Sports

Don’t play them. Despite their (mostly) chiselled physiques, our BNOCs lead a far too exotic lifestyle to muddy themselves with the common man on the gritty playing fields of East Fife. Sport is for plebs, not for the avant-garde of modern-day culture. If you’re going to adopt the life of a BNOC, the occasional cardio session at the gym, (or tactical vom after dessert) will have to replace your once rigorous exercise regime. But fear not, your new diet of quinoa and red cabbage will keep you trim and wonderfully regular to boot. Unfortunately that means no more Wednesday night socials for you either. Last time I checked they don’t sell Moët & Chandon at Sinner’s Sport, but maybe I’m wrong. Instead your Wednesday nights will consist of a couple of cocktails at No. 40, where you can chat amongst equals about literally fuck all of any interest.

So there we are. Follow these three simple steps, throw in a pinch of narcissism and you will soon find yourself talk of the town. It’s that easy. The BNOCs themselves might tell you there is much more to it but don’t listen to them. They are simply trying to maintain the illusion that being cool is something you cannot learn.


  1. Or maybe you should see it for what it was: a laugh at those who do think they’re BNOCS and take themselves way too seriously. I was rather cross nobody from The Saint’s editorial team was in it now that I think about it

  2. “At the very kindest interpretation, the editors knew that a controversial piece like this would get their website plenty of hits, and plenty of hits mean more advertising revenue, and more advertising revenue means more Belvedere at the Christmas party.” – Is this not what The Saint is trying to do by attacking your competitor? Seems like you are trying to hype up a fairly non-existent controversy.

    Honestly, if The Saint feels the most pressing issue to call attention to right now is a joke competition on The Stand, then life must be pretty good in St Andrews

    • The Saint doesn’t feel that this is the most pressing issue to call attention to. That’s why it’s in Viewpoint, not the front page.

      As a past editor of this section, I can assure you, Miss Down, that the ultimate objective of a Viewpoint piece is to express a perspective that encourages debate in the student body. You have confirmed that this is succeeding. Thank you.

  3. this reminds me of a young charlie brooker – phenomenally intelligent and witty. really really good. would read again. was grinning throughout the whole article. its a good thing i do not have lectures tomorrow as i intend to spend all day reading this article over and over and over and over again.

    kindest regards,

    flatmate Nathaniel.

  4. I do apologize, but I don’t believe I gave you permission to use my name (which you used incorrectly, by the way) in this article.

    Your criticisms are low and petty. You have attacked the physical appearance of many of the “BNOC” candidates repeatedly in your editorial, yet you claim to be above such trivial judgements. Keep it above the belt, please.

    Furthermore, the “competition” was a joke and we didn’t choose to be in it, lest you forget.


    Tarleton Watkins

    PS – about the use of my name, I’ll be contacting your editor. How would you feel if your name was included without your permission in a slanderous editorial that will be on the internet forever?

    • Tarleton, You are more than welcome to respond to David’s piece. Viewpoint does not endorse any opinion as being right, thus the emphasis we put on the fact that all articles in this section express a ‘point of view’. In fact, anyone reading this that feels that the BNOCs need to be defended, please feel free to email Viewpoint and I will publish your articles online. Regards, Nick

  5. This article was equally intended to be very much tongue in cheek. If it caused any genuine offence then of course I apologise. Mr Watkins, I technically didn’t use your name. “Tarleton Watkins-The-Third” is not even your name as you helpfully point out. I can’t be certain but I’m also pretty sure that even if I did use your name, I wouldn’t need your permission. Does The Times ask permission from every single person it makes reference to? I don’t think they do. Other than that I don’t think I make any “slanderous” comments.
    I know the article seems slightly aggressive but as I can’t profess to know anything about you other than the fact you are “feisty and beautiful”, it would be ridiculous if I were to make a personal attack against any of the “BNOCS”. If you’ve got any other problems than please feel free to send me an email or meet me in person and we can discuss this in a less petty forum.

    • It’s not really tongue in cheek to seemingly attack 4 students because their friends thought it would be funny to nominate them for a joke competition. It’s incredibly judgmental and border-line slanderous (the ludicrous comment suggesting they are bulimic for example). It’s a bit rich that you attack The Stand’s editorial policy, when the fact that this was published shows just how low The Saint’s editorial policy has sunk.

        • Jonathan, I don’t think I’m hating either the players or the game. I’m discouraged that a spectator decided to print a fairly offensive personal attack on four St Andrews students.

          • I don’t think you fully appreciate what you’re up against here. It’s clear you don’t understand the context of this argument.

            This is how student media works in this town. It’s just evolved to this point. Get used to it. Or start your own newspaper. I bet the White Lady is looking to be revived.

    • It’s *then please free to me an email not the comparative than. Put more thought into you work next time, rather than taking the easy cheap route. Take the effort to dig deeper into the issue, rather than settling at putting the corrupted nature of our society on the backs of three university students with long names. And yes, this is a form of libel.

  6. I think this article is great and sums up what everyone is thinking about the article that was posted in The Stand. I think that makes it a perfect article for viewpoint section of The Saint, and to argue that by publishing this article they are falling down to the same standard as the original Stand article is complete nonsense. For The Stand to now seemingly claim their article was tongue-in-cheek to begin with, perhaps this underlines how poor the writing/editing of that article was? If it was tongue-in-cheek then why did so many people completely miss the point, why did so many people think that it was completely symbolic of the negative images and press our town receives?

    I think the comment that someone made above me saying ‘their friends thought it would be funny to nominate them for a joke competition’ is just amazing. It underlines that in-jokes amongst friends should not be put into newspapers for campus release. That isn’t journalism. I hope the people involved in The Stand learn from what is, quite honestly, a major mistake.

    PS. Technically this article is top-notch and its humour is really well judged in my opinion. Too often in viewpoint articles a lot of the supposed gags do not work, but you hit the spot most times. Top, top journalism, and a top writing career to follow, I suspect, if that is the path you wish to follow.

  7. The line ‘Congratulations, you are now one step closer to the coke-fuelled asphyxi-wank suicide that awaits you’ really sums this article up. Just plain nasty.

  8. This article is nasty, rude, BITTER, unfair, unjust-there’s a difference between journalism and just attacking people because you’re bored

  9. “If you’re going to adopt the life of a BNOC, the occasional cardio session at the gym, (or tactical vom after dessert) will have to replace your once rigorous exercise regime.”

    Eating disorders should not be trivialized in such an appalling way.They are very serious illnesses that have devastating effects on the both the sufferer and their friends and family. They are in no way related to people trying to become a ‘big name on campus’ or being overly fixated on looks and appearances. This is a truly vile article for so many reasons but it’s shocking to see such a serious illness (which will undoubtedly effect a lot of students at university) trivialized in such a way.

    • If you think I am the first person to make light of dark topics then you’re severely mistaken. It is a common way in which human beings sometimes deal with more serious issues that we have to confront in our daily lives. While some people take offence at jokes like these, you have to ask yourself whether you honestly think a member of our university explicitly make fun of someone with a serious disease, or if they are really just trying to provide some light relief. While by no means do I profess to be a comedian, there is hardly a single stand up or sit-com out there that doesn’t make similar jokes. If this sort of humour surprises or offends you then I suggest step outside your PG lifestyle and take in a dose of reality. I was making fun of a stereotype our culture has formulated about “cool” people’s vanity rather than trying to insinuate any of our “BNOCs” were genuinely bulimic.

    • How many Elitists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
      Three! One to complain about how it’s below his station, another to call his father and complain, and one to call the butler to change the light bulb.

  10. When I read the BNOC publication made by the Stand I, like many of my (SNOC’s) friends found it funny and very much lighthearted. However upon reading this it is clear that this article was simply a way to attack these people on the internet, for all to see. As many people before me have posted you ‘go after’ the ‘BNOCs’, attacking them for their characteristics, looks, activities and even their names! This article is highly slanderous, bitter, weak and to be frank, pointless. If it is clear to me, then it is clear to all that have read this piece of ‘journalism’, I put it to you David, that you are Jealous of these people. I do not know you personally, but it’s obvious that you want the life these people have. To be ‘cool’, for people to recognize you in the streets, to be a VIP at every event. It’s not their fault they have the names they do and want to go, and be a part of the organisation of events that we all love going to! The Chip you have on your shoulder has led to this needless publication, try some humble pie over Christmas.

    • ‘I do not know you, but it’s obvious that you want the life that these people have.’ Obvious from what? Obvious how? You’ve judged his entire life-aspirations from a STUDENT Viewpoint piece that invites us to look at how we judge people, by judging the notion and criteria of a BNOC, not by judging the BNOCs themselves. You’ve completely misread the article. The writer personally knows 3/4 of the BNOCs, and is on pretty good terms with them. The only chip on Dave’s shoulder is the Dervish he split on himself after Advent Ball. Yeah, that’s right, he got invited…

  11. My main gripe with this article regards your assertion that people will want to know ‘what you’re wearing’ at one of this town’s numerous fashion shows. Whilst displaying a quite flagrant disregard for formal grammar in your use of ‘you’re’, I’d like to point out that Fashion Season is not about ‘what’ you are wearing, but ‘who’ you are wearing. Idiot.


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