I’m going to try a little experiment here, let me know if it works. I’m going to attempt to get through this entire column, printed in this newspaper’s last edition before the holiday season, without mentioning Christmas. I do this, not just out of a desire to be generally edgy and contrarian, but because ultimately, it’s all been said before. Yes, I could lace this column with trite jokes about Costcutter playing Slade or Wizzard on their in store radio in mid-November, but you’ll have heard such a thing a million and one times prior. So instead, I’ll channel Monty Python and say, here’s something completely different.
I’ll admit, I didn’t really have a clue about what I was going to write for this edition. So when I spent a spare few minutes eating a packet of crisps in the Vanbrugh College car park on Tuesday, I was in the vein of desperately clutching at straws for inspiration, when suddenly my eye was caught by a plastic cup about one fifth full of beer on the floor by the bins. I stared at this intently for some time, desperately trying to milk some contrived allegory for my column.
I’ve always found such sights faintly unsettling. It’s like going to Willow and running into your Seminar Tutor. The two worlds, the professional (ish) working day and the drunken night should ne’er be seen to mix. But I suppose in some way, that mostly empty glass of warm, flat beer does make a passing statement on the term as a whole.
Every term at University, to my mind, can be compared to one big night out. The first few weeks are the pre drinks, getting into the swing of things. The middle is the party itself, and now, as we draw towards the end, we’re in the hangover phase; the morning after the night before.
Now that may sound a tad morose, but it’s not to say that just because the term is in its endgame that you can’t enjoy yourself, but one’s thoughts always tend to drift to the near future and round about this time the prospect of home beckon’s on the distant horizon.
Home for a university student is a slightly muddled concept. We live as wandering nomads, caught inexorably between a traditional idea of home, where our families reside and where we grew up, and here. The great battles of our lives over the next few years will be fought on York soil, be them academic, societal or personal, whether you like it or not.
I’ll admit I’ve never had much affinity for where I come from. Despite once opining that the only things to do in Cheltenham Spa are drinking cider and throwing turnips at the moon, it is a lovely town, truly, and I’m grateful to it for shaping who I am today. But by now my returns there only remind me of how much my life has moved on. The time I spend away from university and by extension my whole life place’s me in a kind of purgatory, going nowhere, locked in stasis until normal business is resumed. It’s good for a break and a spot of recuperation, but I would be lying if I told you I could really call it home.
So despite my best efforts to avoid tedious cliché by refusing to decorate my column with festive tinsel, I’m going to end up finishing with a painfully well-worn and faintly cringeworthy idiom. Home it seems, really is where the heart is, and when I leave this freezing, windswept place in some weeks time for the green fields of South West England, I’ll leave mine here, to beat until my return amongst the steeples and cobbled streets of the city I call home.