Personal Space

LVJ on those times when “cosy” becomes “claustrophobic”.

Cambridge is the kind of town an estate agent would describe as cosy. Its cute, and there’s no denying it; we all love the big stone buildings hanging over every other corner. But at the same time its just too damn small. Perhaps useful when you’re late for lectures and madly cycling across Market Square, but on the other hand it’s slightly too claustrophobic, and just a little bit difficult to escape from.

Then of course there’s the fact that pretty much every time you leave your room youíre going to run into someone you know. We’ve all been there: the morning after, horrendously hung-over with no memory and a parrot-shaped balloon on your floor, perilously close to vomiting mid-supervision. You don’t shower when you feel like death; your eyes are beyond bloodshot and you’ve got a lovely pasty glow going on. Turn a corner, and bam, it’s the cute guy you’ve been leering at for the past 7 lectures. Or your DoS, who then emails you to check you’re still feeling OK this term, that things not getting too much for you, and to make sure you’re getting enough sleep: “you don’t want to fall ill now do you?”. Yeah. Yeah, thanks for that.

But let’s not be too pessimistic. Maybe you’ve got some make up on, maybe you’re even wearing a halfway decent outfit, but if you’re being honest, you’ve just had the most horrific day. Lectures from nine, a supervision that overran with the scary supervisor you suspect doesn’t really like you all that much. The essay was in late and he gave you a terrible mark. You’re pissed off. You’re angry with the world and every annoying, smarmy person in it.

And then you run into someone you know. Someone you’re not that close friends with, but you talk to them now and again. You might find them a bit dull; it’s one of those people who you have to be on form to manage more than an awkward minute before you both admit defeat, say you hope to see them around (when, as has much been clear, you don’t), and walk off making sure you don’t turn around to look back. Not such a fan of cute, cosy Cambridge then are we? Because when you do this to us Cambridge, well… you’re just bloody annoying.

Most of the time here we’re in a hurry, and if it’s not the amalgamated mass of tourists clogging up Kings Parade (who are blatantly ignoring your violent bell ringing), then it’s that really frustrating kind of friend it’d be rude to ignore but you really don’t want to talk to right now. They usually pop into your life just as you’re undergoing mid-essay crisis, whilst also being late for a supervision. In this situation, not even Dale Winton could be in the cheery chirpy mood required for Monday morning small talk.

Even worse is running past your supervisor, waving cheerfully at them well aware that they’re about to go home, check their emails and find a very long contrite message from you explaining that while you tried your best you just didn’t quite find time to do his essay this week. It’s not just on the streets these mishaps can occur either. Try running into a lecture late, sitting in the first seat you come across, only to find yourself sitting next to the random you pulled at Cindies last night. Cue 55 minutes of wishing lecture chairs featured emergency eject buttons.

Cambridge as a town is very like Cambridge as a university. On one hand it’s amazing, a beautiful place, and there’s just about enough shops to last you a term and sometimes you’re swollen the with the notion that you’re so damn lucky to be here. On the other hand, when you’re tired and irritable and have had a month of the same bad clubs, the same clothes shops and the far too small Sainsburys: then you’ve had enough. And the endless run-ins with people you just don’t really want to see/talk to at that point in time aren’t helping. But I suppose, the only thing to do in those situations really, is grin and bear it then use the story as a funny anecdote.

Either that or fake text and pretend you can’t see them.