Freshers’ Week is a bit like the 60s – if you can remember it all, you weren’t there. So these glimpses will have to do:
1 Mists and mellow fruitfulness.
2 Not knowing where anything is, and trying to get there by bike, if you can remember which one’s yours.
3 Existentialist conversations with a swan.
4 Signing up for everything at the Freshers’ Fair.
5 Blood-red Virginia creeper.
6 Smiling at everyone in case one of them becomes your best friend.
7 Buying lots of instant coffee and biscuits for all your new friends.
8 Ridiculously cheap booze at the Freshers’ Disco.
9 Kebabs and puke.
10 Reinventing yourself (because you can).
11 Staying up till 3 a.m. (because lectures haven’t started yet).
12 Getting a meningitis jab (because it’s really important).
So many new beginnings, but for some things it’s an end. Goodbye, Strachey Building. I won’t be there on Friday when the wrecking ball comes for you and the Porters’ Lodge.
A digital detox is refreshing, but the price of being away from emails even for a few days is returning from your holiday to a bulging inbox. Even after deleting the obvious (You want sexy Russian girlfriend?), there’s usually a melange of matters that need attention. Dealing with each of them eats into valuable time just when you’re trying to clear your brain fog and get back into the here and now after your holiday.
But I may have stumbled on a solution. It’s the all-purpose email response, and it goes something like this:
The premium you quote is now greater than the cost of the bicycle, so I shall not be renewing my insurance policy. How lovely to hear from you after all this time, and to learn you have now completed your OU degree! The revised gas bill you sent me is still incorrect and I am passing this on to the Energy Ombudsman along with all previous correspondence. I certainly do want to stop the cruel dog meat trade and intend to make a small donation as soon as I can remember my online banking details. Sorry we couldn’t make dinner last week as we were away, but what about lunch in the next month or so? I am honoured to be asked to be a trustee of the charity. Since you ask, my first tip on getting started in journalism is to learn the difference between your and you’re. I strongly object to the planning application for a two-storey rooftop extension on the house next door to me on the grounds that it is totally unsuitable for the conservation area, would be detrimental to the local streetscape, and looks crap. There was no need for you to send me four emails with exactly the same press release, nor to bombard my literary agent with phone calls as she deals only with books. Yes, Abigail has always had big bones, so I can appreciate that you may not have realized she was expecting; anyway, many congratulations on becoming a grandmother. I will not write an article for you on head lice, and the fact that you have no budget for it is not my problem. He was a bastard and you’ll soon see you’re better off with him, but meanwhile I hope he’s keeping custody of the lizards. I regret that I may not have time to read your latest novella How to Be a Better Zombie as I am just back from holiday and have a mammoth to-read pile. Very sorry to hear you have been detained in a Nigerian prison and lost your handbag and your credit cards, but at the moment I can’t send any money as I don’t know what the hell my online banking details are.