Where in the name of sweet Jehovah has all the damn money gone, was my first thought as I put the phone down having just set up my overdraft with the Nationwide. Things were never supposed to get this bad, but as the wise man Freddie Mercury once sang: it never rains but it pours Ee do ba be ee da ba ba ba these are our lives under pressure.
One broken laptop, one broken laptop charger, an eye infection, a pair of emergency glasses which I stepped on and broke during the writing of this column, a new box of contact lenses, all unforeseen overheads which have driven me hurtling headfirst towards the red and turned me to the daily comforts of Gin and Schweppes. I don’t care if it’s effeminate, you can’t even taste the Gin, and Schweppes Lemonade is the soft drink equivalent of crack cocaine. But I digress.
I was recently confronted by a fantastic but ultimately sobering image on the internet which presented life at university as an octagonal paradigm of friends, class, work, family, essays, sleep, hobbies, food, resume building and love life. You try and do it all and then end up breaking down, giving up and crying softly into your pillow whilst considering if the whole Howard Hughes reclusive, storing your urine in jars lifestyle would really be so bad. I laughed when I first saw it, then cried, then laughed again.
The upshot of this little diagram is that University is not so much a balancing act as like trying to juggle a house brick, three live hand grenades and an angry pit viper. As you progress further and further along your degree and the learning curve dramatically steps up, the natural response is to go to ground, dive under the covers and say “Nope, not doing this anymore, you can all fuck off” and dream of how you could fashion a career out of eating ice cream in bed and watching TV on your laptop.
Sadly, I’ve come to conclusion that it’s not financially feasible and sooner or later we all have to resurface and try again. I guess we should probably learn to count our blessings. University, however frantic and both physically and mentally unhealthy, is still way better than working full time, as my two months as a key accounts coordinator for a pest control company in the back rooms of a Cheltenham warehouse taught me. But for people who have on average about 10 hours of scheduled work a week, with half of that being optional and the other basically optional, University doesn’t half seem to all too frequently get the drop on us. I suppose it’s probably because we technically have so little to do that we end up doing so little, and the freaking out about how little we’ve done, and then trying to do everything at once, freaking out some more and then eventually ending up passed out on Coney Street cursing the day we sent off our UCAS applications. But the show must go on. This is post crash Britain after all, and we all have to do the best we can to minimize our chances of perishing in the great post University jobless austerity wilderness, or at least try and make the most of our time here, where we still don’t have to deal with it.