Henry James Foy

Photo: George Lowther

Photo: George Lowther

“You’re not a lad,” pipes up my girlfriend for the third time that afternoon. “You’re just a wannabe fake lad.”

A wannabe fake? That doesn’t even make sense. And anyway, I wasn’t actually suggesting that my choice to wear shorts that day in the barely above 15-degree northern sun rendered me such.

But she’s right, of course. I’ve never really embraced that whole aspect of my sex.

Of late, many of my friends have become fascinated by the website TrueLad.com, where stories of intense laddery are posted and rated by the interested public (true lads, one would assume), as either praise-deserving socially unacceptable acts, or scorn-worthy events that are just aren’t disgraceful enough. I find most too mind-boggling to comprehend.

I am, as my housemate likes to say, an anti-lad. For the record, he lies far closer to the anti-lad end of the spectrum than I, but delusionally thinks that downing a large glass of fine Merlot to be equitable to straight-arming a dirty pint.

It has been the same all my life. In Year 8, my football coach cut my (albeit miniscule) reputation to shreds in the changing rooms when I suggested his team-sheet contained a spelling error.

Later, in Year 11, the very same teacher refused to speak to me for a week after I received a school colours tie – normally reserved for the football stars or the rugby heroes – for placing at an international sailing championships. Sailing, he thought, was a sport for rich girls and homosexuals.

My lack of true laddery doesn’t just relate to my sporting prowess, or lack thereof. The other crucial aspect of a true lad, that of enjoying the devastation of one’s insides on a regular basis through the imbibing of laughably large quantities of alcohol, is similarly lacking.

Now, I like a good night out on the town like anyone else, but the idea of drinking a pint of Carling through the head of a fish fills me with an intense feeling of utter revulsion – and an understandable fear of biological infection.

At Mr York last year, an event that I agreed to take part in as an extraordinarily large favour that rapidly unraveled into a particularly erroneous judgement, my anti-laddery was viciously exposed.

It was only when the lager appeared before me and my five competitors – who, incidentally, were so filled with ‘lad’ that they were set to burst – that I realized I’d never actually downed a pint before. I turned gingerly to the rugby-playing behemoth next to me and asked for any tips. “Oh don’t worry mate, it’s easy – we do this three or four times every Wednesday.” Needless to say, I lost by a sizeable margin.

This, however, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “You got out before the loss of dignity reached chronic levels,” my most socially-critical friend assured me. He stuck around after my exit at the hands of the Carling-guzzling man machines to see them prance around in bras, and ultimately expose their body parts to the baying humiliation-hungry mob.

The idea of drinking a pint of Carling through a fish head or out of my shoe fills me with an intense feeling of revulsion

This is the final aspect of laddery, and one that I simply cannot comprehend. If sporting prowess is unobtainable, and incalculable alcohol consumption undesired, then nudity in public places defies every shred of my self-respect.

In much the same way that overtly masculine lads who love to extol their manly virtues are unable to suppress an inbuilt craving for nights out in drag, there is something indefinable in a true lad’s mental choice to whip his little man out for maximum audience exposure.

Let’s not beat about the bush – unless you’re streaking during a pornography championship (if one exists, be sure a true lad is behind it), one’s little man will certainly be living up to that euphemism.

This weekend, at Roses, I witnessed one such act first hand. One true lad, who I’d bet was a medically-classifiable moron, circled the York Rugby Firsts’ team huddle, his barely-visibly todger swinging in the freezing Lancashire air, quoting the omnipresent and mildly humourous Gap Yah YouTube video.

Will this tale be posted on TrueLad for fellow lads to pass judgement? Will his act of comic suicide earn him a ‘Good Lad’ or ‘Shit Lad’ review? Instead, I hope that he wakes up tomorrow and, upon viewing his tiny penis in a Facebook picture commented on by hundreds of mocking strangers, realizes his lad-based folly.

There is time to repent. The anti-lads are recruiting.


  1. 4 May ’10 at 10:32 pm

    Foy Fan (Now)

    I don’t usually like this column – infact at times I’ve found it a little self indulgent.

    This is however, a bloody good piece – and really does raise some interesting questions with regards to “Lad” culture – which I feel is ludicrously pertinent at York, in particular in certain older colleges and certain Sports clubs…

    Great stuff Henry.

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  3. 5 May ’10 at 9:32 am

    Well... almost

    It was still self indulgent, since he’s unable to write the article without showing off. But it begins to display some self deprecation which is encouraging.

    It was a good start though, and it would be good to see more articles which explore the laddish culture as it is found on campus. Possibly better to get a lad to write it though.

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  4. 5 May ’10 at 9:33 am

    Samuel Houlders

    Fantastic article, Henry.

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  5. “The idea of drinking a pint of Carling through a fish head or out of my shoe fills me with an intense feeling of revulsion”

    don’t worry babe you can do it in your LV slip ons, it’ll be fine. xxx

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  6. One thing to say for this article…LAD.

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  7. You have a gf??

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  8. Para 3 should read ‘gender’ rather than ‘sex’.

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  9. A society REALLY should be made for this for anti-lads.

    They ran out out of the right tea blends at my shop yesterday… I was appalled!

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  10. The whole thing is lexically and syntactically confused. No definition of “anti-lad” is provided, which suggests the author hopes his typically male, hetero-normative (and therefore perhaps “laddish”) fixation on exposing the diminutive member will go unnoticed. The attempted assertion of masculinity by targeting the other’s genitalia is in no way opposed to the notion of “lad” (messily assembled by the article), and signals that Mr Foy is chiefly demonstrating a paranoia about, rather than an appraisal of, the elusive “anti-lad.” The pseudo-academic tone is not elegantly scathing, and registers a distinctly inadequate engagement with contemporary conceptions of gender and its social performances. This is a lazy attempt at comment on a vitally important subject, and inexcusably conceited.

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  11. 12 May ’10 at 10:23 am

    jutin credible

    And lets be honest, sailing’s more of a hobby than a real sport anyway

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  12. 12 May ’10 at 10:41 pm

    Cheerleader lad

    This article is pathetically wet.

    Also, don’t take pleasure in mocking that poor chaps willy. Big or small, from York or Lancaster, he should have the same freedom to express himself as much as you. I have the upmost respect for him. I wish I could do the same but then my willy is not only very small but also very ugly.

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  13. After seeing Henry score a goal today, and then run off celebrating wildly, he is most clearly a lad

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  14. Henry James Foy is a Lad.
    Surprised that he would have a ‘girlfriend’.
    Did it last, lad?

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