Tom Fennelly: My shit week so far

Tom gets into trouble with the University’s loan sharks – Student Finance

Image: Harriet Cheshire

Image: Harriet Cheshire

Well, where do I even start? Let’s start with last edition’s omni-shambles (or is it omni-shambi?) that involved a debacle with the local council. I say debacle, I’d be calling it a ‘pickle’ if I was putting it politely. As I am not, I’m just going to opt for ‘cluster-fuck’.

In a rare piece of good news, I have been cleared of all criminal charges. In a far too frequent piece of ever-reoccurring bad news, they informed me that everyone in my house was council tax exempt… apart from me.

Not only has Microsoft Word’s spellcheck just informed me that I have, in fact, been spelling ‘exempt’ wrong in every piece of correspondence that I’ve had with them, the University also chose to omit me from the student list they provide for the council. The reason for this became clear just the next day when Financial Services informed me that I owed them a lot of unpaid fees. It turns out that I had never completed my application for student finance for this year. I’d probably have more luck with Ocean Finance.

In a grovelling attempt to rectify the situation, I went running to Financial Services with a lacklustre apology and nothing that you could call an excuse. They sent me to the Student Financial Support Services next door who could deal with Student Finance England for me, except I wasn’t going to get an appointment for two weeks as they proved to be as useful as a coeliac in a bakery.

From accounts I’ve heard from peers that have tried to use them before, the staff seem to have an uncanny ability to point out the obvious and look at you discerningly.

It would have been quicker for me to walk to Student Finance England’s office in Darlington and carry the money back in a wheel-barrow with a square tyre. Or maybe I could ride on the rather perturbing plastic donkey that they ominously sit in the corner of the room, watching your every move; or maybe that’s more of a physical metaphor to the people who actually work there.

Their level of efficiency is only matched by the Health Centre, where you can’t book to see a doctor for over two weeks. By that time, you’ll either be better or dead.  I’d rather try my chances with an enema picked at random by a fresher from the Hull York Medical School than attempt to seek medical attention on campus.

Waiting times are at a level where you almost have to predict when you think you’re going to be ill via your horoscopes and then book an appointment accordingly. I’m on the cusp between Scorpio and Sagittarius (yes, it’s my birthday, bring me gifts, don’t just remind me of it on Facebook), so I can’t even read my bloody horoscope anyway.

I may as well book in with my doctor for monthly visits and, when there’s nothing actually wrong with me, I can just use him as a shrink and tell him all the shit things that happen to me and consequently end up in this column. He’ll probably end up having an aneurism, and then have to wait another month just to see someone about it.

In short, I’m about as popular with the authorities as Rolf Harris’ application to appear on this year’s Children in Need. “Two little boys…” yes, just stop there, Rolf.

The rest of my time has been spent desperately applying for 40,000 graduate jobs whilst shepherding obnoxious freshers out of the library via the second floor window.

But in a brighter piece of news, a lady next to me in the library just snorted exceptionally loudly. Suddenly everything is ok again.

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