The day this column appears in print will be my twentieth birthday. It’s a faintly terrifying prospect, to have finally exited my teens and entered the decade of “real” adulthood. It was during their own twenties that my parents got married, took out a mortgage and had me. Of course, the lives of my parents are not necessarily ones which I’ve thus far shown a propensity towards emulating. By the age I am now my father had already been thrown off an accountancy course at the now long derelict Gloucester Royal College for general non attendance of a “going down the pub and bookies” variety, been strongly encouraged to seek other employment from his straight out of school job at Endsleigh Insurance for as he put it “taking overly long lunch breaks” (presumably also down the pub and bookies) and was happily employed at the Cheltenham Borough Council housing arrears department, on a path to a rich and storied career in the murky world of social housing middle management.
I by contrast have taken advantage of my families later 20th century social mobility in the way shared by many other products of the middle class suburbs, by refusing to gainfully contribute to society and merrily coasting my way to a presumed future in “the big city” doing something my family would consider naff and poncey like, oh I don’t know, writing or some such.
Of course it’s only natural to be a little bit afraid, we undergraduates so often are. Universities are dogged by an underlying sense of fear. Students are afraid of not finding a place in the world, that they’re not interesting, not unique, that they don’t stand out from the crowd, a factor made even more important by the current state of the perennially ruthless, cutthroat graduate job market. They’re afraid they won’t succeed, that they’ll have wasted all of that bloody money and perhaps most of all, that they’ll end up back living with their damn parents.
This is presumably the reason why everyone you meet at University seems to be a kind of strange, elevated stereotype from Saved by the Bell, or attempting to do a sort of sketch show impression of the national version of whatever job they fill within the campus bubble. Like student politician or, dare I say it, student journalist. It’s an attempt at finding your place in this vast, strange world of ours, of knowing exactly where you fit in through a tribal affinity to a larger than life parody of what it means to be sporty, or political, or big into Magic: The Gathering. There’s nothing wrong with it per say, but we’d be fools if we didn’t accept that in this regard not much has changed since we left school, it’s an ecosystem built on fear and insecurity, and a big part of that can be linked straight back to the feeling that we are all finally becoming, for severe want of a better word, “grownups”.
Ultimately though, my twentieth birthday is just an arbitrary milestone which exists for administrative purposes and so they know just how extortionately to price my car insurance, if I actually had a car, or a driver’s license. Does it make me a proper adult? No, not really. There’s no definable point at which that happens. I am the same man today that I was yesterday and presumably i’ll be the same man tomorrow; whilst we’re all still at York nothing much is really going to change. I have been conditioned since coming to University to think about time in term weeks rather than by the date on the calendar. It’s a trajectory, a path we all must walk, in the knowledge that when we reach the end we are unceremoniously dumped out of our complacent stupor into the “real” world, and then, and only then, can we justifiably worry about getting older. Until then, I’ll enjoy the gravitas and much needed cash injection which comes with my new age, safe in the knowledge that in reality, absolutely nothing has changed.
I discovered the other day that a large section of this newspaper’s Editorial Team seems to believe I am some sort of foaming at the mouth smokers rights activist, a preconception which I was keen to decry as over exaggerated nonsense. I did, in fairness, once write that I found the libraries obsession with forcing us air-polluting, wheezing wretches a little further away from their precious building every few weeks a touch irritating, and yes I am beginning to feel that broadly speaking, the bloody duties are beginning to take the piss a bit now. OK, OK I take the point.
What definitely doesn’t help my cause is discovering that I had, at some point, signed up t0 the newsletter of the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco, or FOREST, an acronym which it appears to have been incredibly keen to have, judging by the forced nature of the organisation’s full name. I only remembered I had done this because they had sent me an email inviting me to their annual boat party called, and you really can’t make this up, ‘Smoke on the Water’.
Right, I thought. That actually sounds like it might not be the worst thing in the whole world. I pictured in my head an enormous luxury yacht, decked out like a 70s Fremont Street casino gliding merrily across the Thames.
Enormous clouds of smoke billowing from the craft into the cool evening air. A defiant, subversive statement again the quasi-fascistic Department of Health busybodies and their seemingly never ending crusade to regulate everything we put even vaguely near our mouths.
Yes, presumably you’d have to rub shoulders with the odd shady, big tobacco executive, but no pressure group’s perfect right? If nothing else then surely such an event would be one of the only places in Britain where you can still smoke inside?
Nope, according to a sheepish little paragraph midway through the e-mail; you can only smoke on the rear open deck of the boat or in the walkways. Way to fight the man guys, you’re true revolutionaries.
Elections are great; watching the results come in until the early hours of the morning with my old pals Dimbleby, Vine and co. But when it comes to Europe, an issue which I seem to be totally alone in having absolutely no opinion on; I haven’t the foggiest clue which way to vote.
So, after finally registering to vote in the upcoming European elections at the YUSU offices. I’ve been pondering ways in which to use my new-found suffrage to be as profoundly unhelpful and apathetic as possible.
With that in mind I’ve located perhaps the most two bob, small time outfit on the ballot paper in this region, The Yorkshire First devolution party, as a potential candidate for my support. It’s not that I necessarily believe in the cause, although I suppose I do in a round about sort of way.
No, there are several reasons why you might wish to use your vote in this way. Particularly if you’re of a perennially undecided, angry or disaffected mind-set. Firstly, because voting UKIP as an anti politics statement has become far too mainstream. Even taking all the nutcases and the racism aside.
Secondly because by doing so in enough numbers there is a very good chance they could push the BNP into last place, and wouldn’t that just be absolutely fucking hilarious?
Me and Vision Photo Editor, Jack Western, were at the Langwith 3rds vs Halifax 1sts match last Monday down on the JLD, and despite being caught in a full-on pre match hailstorm, we managed to get this snap of Langwith goalkeeper, Steve Le Cornu, looking despondently at the ball in his own net. A theme for the day. Langwith lost 4-0, which, given some of the drubbings they received last year, I assume they wouldn’t be unpleased with. Regardless, this image could end up being a succinct representation of their tournament. Best of luck to them though, everyone loves an underdog.