Every character in your seminar
What would it be without this lot, eh?
Is there any better illustration of the rich span of humanity than the people you meet in a seminar? No, probably not.
The guy who just read the first chapter of Das Kapital
You know what Sebastian, it’s just a bit much. Suggesting that the USA did 9/11 to cover up the fact that there’s fluoride in the water is not just fucking annoying, it’s also batshit insane. Stop defining “Western Liberal values” on Facebook and sharing Brendan O’Neill articles. You’re not a free-thinking intellectual powerhouse, you’re entitled, arrogant and unwaveringly annoying, and I’m fairly sure you’re not even a Marxist. And no, I won’t come to watch you speak in unwavering solidarity with Palestinians, but I will admit that maybe fire can’t melt steel beams, fine.
The really, really right wing guy
University in general is a reasonably left wing place, I mean sure there are more shy Tories than ever. But there’s always that guy in your seminar with an extensive knowledge of basic economic formulae like “Smith’s hand” and supply and demand. He will be there to shoot down any ounce of humanitarian conversation. “THAT’S NOT HOW MARKETS WORK” he will squeal, as you suggest that we should potentially stop invading the Middle East for oil.
The racist guy
It starts off as an innocent debate on immigration, and then suddenly the quiet guy breaks his silence by saying something incredibly racist. He sits back in his chair afterwards, observing and enjoying the shock that he instilled in his peers. He is greeted by silence, and even the seminar leader isn’t sure how to react. After what feels like an hour, someone starts a discussion on a completely different subject, and the racist guy will go quiet again… for now.
The Sylvia Plath expert
Hey, we all hate our daddies and read her in school. She’s great. But everyone knows that watching Gwyneth Paltrow gas herself to death does not make you an expert on Plath.
Greg always arrives six minutes late to an Introduction to Realism, like clockwork. You know he has a routine, but won’t set his alarm six minutes earlier to arrive on time. When he opens the door, a little too hard so the handle jars against the breezeblock wall, you see he is wearing the same outfit. Trackies with a shirt, Adidas Originals but not tied up – the ends frayed and matted. As he opens his pencil case he cracks a generalised joke which makes everyone laugh. You recognise it from the second half of Micky Flanagan’s Back in the Game tour, and admire Greg’s slightly better sense of timing. Halfway through your seminar people are starting to answer questions without putting their hands up and some semblance of discussion is underway. Greg’s pen has leaked all over his hands. He doesn’t announce it, but everyone knows it has happened and is easily distracted. Instead of getting a tissue, Greg wipes his hands on the desk and tries to use a sheet of lined A4 to scrub off the remainder of the Bic Medium’s contents engrained on his palms. Things wind down and you find yourself leaving the Humanities building slightly ahead of him. Through all seven sets of doors you hold open for him, he thanks you by name as he follows through. Fucking Greg.
The drunk guy
Oh my god, did he go out last night? That stamp is emblazoned on his skin like a mark of honour. Oh my god, he’s going out again tonight?
The one who writes notes on your notepad
“:)”, “<3”, “<====3”, OKAY STOP NOW I used to quite like how these notes looked and now I have to throw this page away when I get home and rewrite it.
No one likes this person, nobody ever wants their shit notes on their pad, ever. We left school years ago and the fact this person still exists is a slap in the face of the higher education system.
The guy who brings a coffee
How can you afford a Costa every morning? HOW?
The guy who always gets stuck doing tech stuff because the tutor is shit with their computer
John was never great with computers. He just uses a VPN so he can watch US Netflix. He was also the first person to tell you about Popcorn-Time. That qualifies John to help Professor Neil turn the projector on.
The guy who has only read Orientalism
It’s third year, Matt. You can’t get by on the only piece of secondary reading you did in an introductory seminar in first year, especially when you’re trying to shoehorn it into a discussion on Thatcher’s Britain. There are alarm bells when he keeps referring to everything as “the other”.
He’s alright tbh.
The really keen 25-year-old girl who had a kid
She actually does more work than you, as she’s left her kid in childcare from 9-5 while she slaves away in the library. No fun for Jenny.
No Anthony, you can’t come to Spoons with us tomorrow. I don’t care if you brought in sweets for the last seminar of term.
The guy who always ends up sitting next to the tutor
You’re so keen you can’t wait to nestle up next to the tutor. You emailed them the night before to go over the notes you made in advance, and you’ll stick around at the end too. We get it, you want a first.
The guy who wants to bang the tutor
Quite like the person who ends up sitting next to the tutor. But sleazier. He’ll ask questions for the sake of it and make terrible jokes, trying to find any excuse to email her before lectures. Sometimes he even sneaks in a cheeky “x” in his “won’t make it in today” texts. How does he even have her number?
Most likely to raise some kind of tenuous drug legalisation point over and over again.
The person who actually did the optional essay
We’re all trying to get through this together you fucking scab.
The guy who goes for a smoke every time they give you a smoke break just to look artsy
First of all, those are Benson and Hedges, Harry. Nobody, not even those prisoners on death row with a very limited tuckshop, pick Benson and Hedges as a first choice of cigarette. Second of all, we get a smoke break every 45 minutes. Nobody needs to smoke that much. Thirdly — and this is probably the most important one — you’ve positioned yourself carefully against the opposite building as you smoke, just so we can all watch you. The smoke curls upwards. It is a foggy dark. You’re wearing a dark grey snood.
I’ll give it to you you’ve planned it well but this is quite excessive.
The silent one
For the love of god Katherine will you just fucking say something.
The one who turns up to the first seminar and you never see them again
You caught their eye in the first seminar and smiled. This is the start of something, you think. You rush early to the second lecture in the hopes of seeing them and maybe sitting next to them, but alas they’re not there. They will never be there again. You see them again at the exam in two and a half months time, and you desperately try to catch their attention. But it was never meant to be.
Annoyingly, they’ll end up getting a 2.1.
Your mate’s ex
You invited her along to a night out in the third week of term because you wanted to shag her, but she ended up getting with your mate despite him telling you he wouldn’t snake you. Needless to say it didn’t work out, and now you have to handle her hateful glare through ever seminar like some kind of arsehole-by-proxy.
The mature student
Three piece suit and leather satchel at the ready, Peter Harris is here to conquer all in front of him. He’s not Peter, he’s Peter Harris. When asked his name, he will give both first and his last name. In two hour stints, he’ll crack open a banana at the break, fresh from a food bag so it doesn’t leak over his vast selection of Parker pens – he had a bad episode ten years ago during his undergrad.
He gave up his boring job in retail after a first from Goldsmith’s and turned his life around by taking on a new challenge. Anything you contribute will be met with a response – regardless of if he agrees with you or not. Peter Harris speaks in full paragraphs, with references to set texts and even footnotes. He’s done all the reading, and if one night he couldn’t – that’s fine. He’s got them all on audiobook which he listens to, in his Skoda, on his way to his parent’s house.
The guy who is live tweeting his cruel observations of everyone in the seminar and thinks no one else can see it
Give it up @gossipguyleeds – we know who you are.
The one you’d 100 per cent shag, should’ve shagged and regret not shagging
Even after you and Jenny got put in a pair for that group assignment, you still haven’t mustered up the courage to interact with her more than an awkward grumble as you shuffle into the room every Tuesday morning. Now it’s late May and you’re both in the Union bar drinking warm prosecco with your coursemates, trying to think of something to say other than that you nicked her point about Voltaire for the exam.
The one who did ALL OF THE READING
“Are you not terrified about our exam”, Noel would say through his crazy eyes as he relentlessly shakes your shoulders. He’ll be on his seventh cup of coffee after doing an all nighter finishing next terms coursework already. He’ll constantly be asking questions about how you answered question 2A, and wants you to reassure him that you’re less on top of things than he is. He’ll stress you out more than necessary, but he’ll end up scraping a 2:2 while you breeze by with your 2:1.
The one who asks questions for the sake of asking questions
You’ve got to admit it, they’re the real heroes of your seminar. Passing time, distracting the tutor and oh will you look at that, it’s time to go. Thank youuuuu.
The one who sits on Facebook
The most annoying thing about these people is not that they’re wasting their time — nobody actually cares about that unless they liked one of those “I didn’t pay 9k for this Mr Osborne” Facebook pages. The annoying thing is that you feel yourself start to become so involved in their personal life. Last night, Kate didn’t come out to the club. She said she was ill, but she’s uploaded a pic of her watching TV at her boyfriend’s house, all curled up with some Cookie Dough Ben and Jerry’s. The girl in front, watching this all unfold on a cracked iPhone 6 screen, is appalled, understandably so. But now I am too. I don’t want to be involved in this. I have my own struggles and my own friends and my own photos to swiftly detag the morning after. Why do I care about this? Why do I miss it the one week she doesn’t come in? I can’t even bring myself to add her.
The one who reminds you that we’re paying £9,000 for this
Better make the most of it then.
The one with no friends
Hear me out okay. I didn’t go to the first week seminar, the one where they had the ice breaker. I got a bit lost and only found the room at like ten past, and by that it was too late. I didn’t want to awkwardly shuffle in while everyone else was already paired up and doing their ice-breakers with all that ‘scuse me pardon me’ oh here comes the last one, I thought it would be too tragic. So I didn’t go, alright, and now everything is so much harder. I don’t know anyone — I don’t know how old their little sisters are, or where they went to school or what they said at the end of their name when they introduced themselves which made everyone laugh, even James who sits at the back and doesn’t say anything and wears that long black overcoat and you think yeah, if there was going to be a shooting, it would be James wouldn’t it. I don’t know any of that. I don’t have any friends.
And it’s too late now. I’m just sat here for the next nine weeks feeling a little bit left out. And sure, I’ll pitch in for the group work, and I’ll answer a few questions, but I don’t even feel like I deserve my 10 per cent attendance grade, if I’m honest, because I’m not really present. It’s a bit lonely tbh.
Your seminar bae
Will it ever happen? No.