So-called life: Liam O’Brien

Though its significance may escape (or probably disinterest) you, you are currently staring at the pages of New MUSE. As I write, I am all too aware of this column’s placement on M4, described in some circles – and not without due cause – as ‘The Black Hole’. Deciding upon how best to avoid a battery of angry comments on this most difficult of pages is one of the duties assigned to the magazine’s editor, and these are duties to which I am still unbearably attached in a deeply troubling separation anxiety that has seen my life take a woeful turn.

Spending two years in the Nouse office has rendered me under-equipped to deal with the quotidian activities that plausibly light our methodical and dreary existence. I have replaced talks about the features section with Dragonball Z and Dog the Bounty Hunter, and I have read (and this is especially sad) all of the extra material on the module reading list. Each day is a struggle to wrestle myself from the dark and cloudy penumbra I wake up in. A walk around campus, now not necessarily completed in the throes of impossible fatigue, is awash with a colourful melee of people, elections and event ticket-hawking that I have quickly grown to despise.

Nevertheless, one cannot spend one’s life in an eternal mope, and post-Nouse, my social calendar has opened up in auspicious and diverse ways. Rather than terrorise the Nouse freshers, I prefer, at the various parties held here in York, to go around falsely informing people of just who Poppy Babcock is. For the record, I don’t actually know, though the stir has me thoroughly amused. At dinner parties and soirées around the town, I am completely conscious that I am suffering from an upper middle-class nightmare.

Our paper is often subject to the assumed label of ‘toff’, yet many of our writers insist that they are the scourges of all things elevated and Sloaney. I was state-educated in Liverpool, though this is not as proud a label as one might think. Of the two main private schools in the city, one is miles away and frankly, a waste of money, and the other is known locally as a haven for the spawn of drug dealers; should one wish for MDMA from a Year 9, ample supplies will greet you from their prestigious school gates.

The overwhelming truth is that whilst I’ve been at York my accent has changed into an unpleasant and suspicious hybridization of scouse and ‘Southern’. Most of my friends are from wealthy, private-ed backgrounds and when I go home I am roundly accused of betraying my roots.

But what of it, readers? I am cautiously optimistic about the friendship opportunities that York, and most towns offering a university that is not an intellectual cesspit, have to offer. The food is certainly better, and the home visits are a less hazardous venture than ever before.

This conclusion has also been reached by a good friend, who comes from Dewsbury near Leeds, best known as the site of the false kidnap of Shannon Matthews. Formerly subject to the delights of visiting friends whose homes stank of cat piss, this decorous individual has welcomed the southern enclave of the University of York. As she recalled visiting a schoolmate who kept an owl (named Solo Spirit) tied up in her wardrobe and pythons robbed judiciously from the local reptile park in the bathroom, I slept more comfortably in my York bed than ever before, my hand losing grip on a biography of Robespierre.

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