Campus Lifestyle

Monday June 9th 2008 – LO’B

“Meet my plastic plants. The one in the centre is smaller, but more expensive. The pot has a stripe on it.”

Ah, the joys of life in halls. A week back, a family member died, and I didn’t know where to be. It’s a strange one when you don’t know whereabouts you should be grieving, given that you’re just outside the inner circle. I feel more distant from my family in more than a purely situational sense; I don’t know what’s going on, I can’t read people’s thoughts over the phone, I can’t imagine people’s facial expressions when they talk to me. The time I left York to become part of the aftermath seemed horribly convenient and self-servicing; post production weekend, post essay hand in date, post quitting my job at the Lowther, the beginning of reading week. When I finally saw them, getting my phrenology back in gear, I couldn’t understand what I was meant to say, as if our relationship is between the moments ‘known’ and ‘gone’. I can’t operate myself naturally around them anymore.

I saw those same, overwhelmed eyes that I saw at the last funeral I attended. The hands that gripped one another, unsure whether what they were planning or doing five minutes ago was right or wrong, clasped as a prevention and a consolation. Wakes still puzzle me: you’re there to remember, so drink to forget. Drink to remember happily, or drink quietly to evidence inner grief. I couldn’t drink at all.

On my visit back home I got stories of old friends from old friends. Someone installed in London, who, having tried ketamine for the first time, went messianic, stumbling into the middle of Shaftesbury Avenue proclaiming he could control the traffic, which was dodging him, horns blazing. I went to visit a friend in Sheffield University, and it felt like a proper university, with immobile people sprawled over each other in rooms filled with marijuana smoke. Here at the apparently coke-addled University of York, a visit to the toilet seat of certain departments, whose cobalt swabs looked like they had been twatted round a bubblegum factory, might provoke a similar epiphany, albeit mixed with the smell of bleach and urine. I saw the reality of drug abuse though when I went home. I saw someone carrying an oxygen cylinder hooked up with some piping to their nose. Bone-thin and of an elderly aspect, upon querying the illness I was told that years of smack had rendered them barely able to walk, speak, and conduct a dignified lifestyle. In York, heroin is replaced with drugs that sit well with upper-middle class angst and feigned ideas of Londonite aspirationalism. A pill or powder seems less dirty than something associated with injection. You can spot who does what. I had a go at guessing during the Student Action play the other day, my suggestions corrected by someone in the know, and I was pretty much dead on.

Once excitement over the drug saga had passed, York was the same as ever for me. Michelle, the ‘Skins’ character, was scripted to be coming here next year. I can see why they’ve dumped the cast and aren’t filming university life – because, truth be told, it’s dull. If there was one thing ‘Skins’ taught us, it was that the most sensible people are the least alive. People are revising everywhere you look. New strategies for competitive revision like ‘How many pages can you read before getting bored’, and desperation tactics like drawing a flower on your exam paper for a sympathy mark are popular. In Vanbrugh, we attempted to throw a block party. Like ‘Boombox R.I.P.’, we envisioned, or something from ‘Party Monster’. What materialised was a dour semi-celebration of the enjoyment-husks we have dried into. So upset at this travesty, I had no choice but to call the porter and shut the bastard down.

“She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn’t boring.” Fuck off, Zelda Fitzgerald.

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