Cakes and Cider – An Urban Myth.

Paul found this urban myth in Erik K. Taylor’s ‘Using Folktales’, published by Cambridge University Press, and thought it would be right up our proverbial street – John being the Press manager for Turkey.

This is a true story that happened at Cambridge University. During an exam one day, a bright young student stood up and asked the professor to bring him cakes and cider.
‘I beg your pardon?’ asked the professor.
‘I request that you bring me cakes and cider,’ repeated the student.
‘Certainly not,’ replied the professor.
‘Sir,’ said the student, ‘I really insist. I request and require that you bring me cakes and cider.’
‘Excuse me, young man,’ said the professor, ‘but you are distracting the other students. Please quietly continue your work.’
At this point, the student produced a copy of the 400-year-old Laws of Cambridge, written in Latin, which were still, theoretically, in effect. He pointed to one section and announced, ‘It says here in the rules of our university, “Gentlemen taking examinations may request and require cakes and cider.”‘
The professor examined the sheet, spoke quietly with the student, and then excused himself briefly. A short time later an assistant arrived with a soda and a hamburger. (Apparently they had agreed that this was an acceptable modern equivalent.) The student then wrote his exam, happily chewing and slurping away.
Three weeks later the student was fined five pounds for not wearing a sword to the examination.


About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to or
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