"Never do media sales"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Olly wished me happy birthday today. It’s not my birthday until tomorrow. (His is 13 days after mine.) I called him a lummox and he reminded me of the time when, at university, we sent Mother’s Day cards to our mothers a month early. Olly is getting married (unsure when, but he is at least engaged, having proposed and had the proposition accepted) and so I have been pondering university again, as one does sometimes. The Mother’s Day thing is symptomatic, perhaps, of the complete and utter dislocation that we suffered at university, an utter severance from the outside world. We had televisions and radios and the internet and often the paper (The Sunday Times when I lived with Jewish Ben; The Guardian on a Friday before that – oh The Guardian on a Friday! A gaggle of us used to leave lectures and seminars at lunchtime and head for The Charles Bradlaugh pub with a Friday newspaper each, and sit, on green sofas around an aged wooden table on the upper floor in the corner by the window, drinking Guinness and perusing the culture sections, Film & Music, reading aloud reviews of albums we were concerned with, interesting articles and facts and observances, and we felt like… kings of the world, perhaps, like sitting around a table on a Friday afternoon while the world worked in its office and we drank Guinness and read broadsheets was the most important thing to be doing; the only thing to be doing. In my mind we did it a hundred times; in reality probably half a dozen. And now I have written in the Film & Music section of The Guardian on a Friday, and perhaps there is a twenty year old student at the University of Northampton now, doing what we did every Friday, and sitting in The Charles Bradlaugh with his friends reading aloud, and maybe this Friday he’ll read something I’ve written?) but still we were dislocated. Mad cow disease, the petrol crisis, Man Utd’s European Cup triumph; these things passed us by. A thousand things passed us by. Getting updates on Peter’s journey through university at the end of every term, watching the students I deal with every day, I can see that dislocation is a common thread. Olly, do you remember that evening in The Cock in the first year, the graduates, five years past us, finding our… ire, and youth, and idealism… amusing? Naïve? Endearing? I’m happier now, as you are I imagine, but if we faced ourselves as we were then, would we say the same things to us as those other graduates did?


Monday, May 14, 2007


Blogger Geoff Love - 3:42 pm

I too have thought long and hard about that evening in The Cock drinking (I think) near out-of-date redeye. The conclusion I draw, and it was the same back then, is that I would never treat someone else’s idealism in such a dismissive fashion. The only resentment, and that's what I thought they were exhibiting as they were aggressively anti-us, I feel is for being able to sit around drinking in pubs in the afternoons. I have a number of friends who are students presently, and it's actually the people who finished being students within the last year or so who irk me most, because they seem to be continuing in the same vein, and not moving on from the lifestyle. (I think it says more about me though as my tastes have always been similar it's just now with spending power that I don't have to go to cheap-drink pubs to get as drunk as a I can before going out - I prefer to find a pub get settled in and drink different beers that I’ve never tried before). On which point, since stopping smoking 3 years ago this coming birthday I have now tried over 250 different types of ale/beer/bitter/etc, I consider this to be quite an achievement, but perhaps my student me would consider it risible and old.

My happiness is currently in a direct relative trajectory with my spending power versus my wage rises. I now earn the most I ever have, I now possess the most I ever have, and I actually own a washing machine and a fridge freezer for instance. However, these things are starting to become the millstone round my neck that is making my ever increasing wage become more and more necessary. If I stop earning the money I do now, I will not be able to continue my style of living. However this does not make me hate students, their lifestyle, and their dis-connectedness from the world. My lovely woman cannot get through the day without Radio 4 or the news, or both. I meanwhile am blissfully aware that there is news everyday, there always will be and increasingly it is being rammed down our throats in the modern sensational fashion/style. Perhaps that makes me a bad human being.

The point being I might look at myself now and wonder what’s happened in the 9 or so years since I was an idealist/Marxist/dreamer/binge-drinker, but I wouldn’t resent myself or the system that I was passing through. Or maybe I would meet myself and think I was an insufferable, naïve idiot.

Blogger Nick - 4:57 pm

You remember Graham McBeath's rant about buying a washing machine to save time and spending the saved time working to afford the washing machine, I hope...

Looking back, I don't think those people in the pub that night were that bad. I don't think they were trying to kill our idealism so much as just saying "this will change". Which it has.

I can't remember the last time I was 'drunk', in the way that I used to mean 'drunk'.

Blogger Geoff Love - 6:03 pm

Sadly i don't remember Graham's seminars as much as i'd like to. However, his and the dark haired guy with glasses who looked like Anthony Sher, who was sadly missing for all but 5 minutes of our degree - Mike somebody - gave their speech in the induction week where they described how they were going to turn us into information processors and I remember that fairly vividly, wondering what it might mean. (I've now spent nearly four years working in an environment with infromation processors and attempting to implement a software application to further this process.)

I certainly recall the people in the pub, their mocking skirted the line of prejudice i always felt. Maybe it was just one of the men who was more alpha than the others, but i certainly remember thinking their was a certain vehemence/jealousy thing. Weird times.

Nowadays, I also find it near impossible to drink until i'm so drunk i can't stand, but i manage it once in a blue moon. I had a weird dream, possibly the strangest dream i've ever had, on the first night sleeping in our new house. It was meant to be my uni graduation, but the only people there were my current colleagues, and it certainly wasn't at Northampton, it was an underground place, witha harbour and fairground. I turned up behaving like i hadn't known it was happening and complained bitterly that no one had let me know, i then proceeded to weep for what felt like days and then ran away, by scaling a wall which was constantly crumbling away. Perhaps something to do with feeling an inevitability of failure (as at Uni) in my current career, as i've been feeling quite out of my depth recently and somewhat out of control - as at Uni. Anyway, i'm not sure i believe in dreams too much. But to the point..

The point was that 2nd night in new house, after football, i went out for "one" and ended up getting so bladdered i puked all over my new house! When, having pieced the evening together the next morning, i realised how drunk i had been and how little i remembered, it reminded me very much of Uni. How many times i woke up vowing never to drink again.

Nowadays i love to find a pub, some friends, a good ale or two, then while away the afternoon/evening chatting. Not having to get arseholed really quickly to enjoy myself. I don't even enjoy being drunk anymore, i often see it as an irritating side effect of sampling ales on afternoons out.

Blogger clastres - 5:12 pm

Hi Nick, Olly and the rest of you itinerants who are now begun a success after my training ou for the machine!

Not sure I did quite argue that about washing machine, but hey, who's counting...


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Nick Southall was born in southwest England at the tail end of the 70s, and is the youngest of three brothers. He has a degree in popular culture and philosophy and has written about music for Stylus Magazine, The Guardian and Drowned In Sound, amongst others. He likes red wine, expensive headphones, spicy food, and the Hungarian national football team of the 1950s. His favourite record is the last one he listened to. You can contact him by email via sickmouthy @ gmail dot com should you so wish.

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