Cambridge’s Got Talent. Shame About The Rest Of Us.

Cambridge offers no consolation for my ‘extremely disappointing’ gap year weight gain. Quite the opposite.

Christmas college sport Easter inadequacy Radio 1 weight weight gain

I come from a big family. Apparently my parents really rate their combined genetic potential. Obviously this is great for my Birthday and Christmas present tally, and a winner when it comes to Easter Egg theft. It does, however, have its downsides, the worst of which being that all of my siblings seem to possess an unfailing ability to belittle my achievements with their own, and in the most splendid ways imaginable.

Dare I say it, I felt that on my arrival at Cambridge this year, I had perhaps done something that would guarantee a promotion to the family ‘achievement’ Premier League. Finally my days of festering at the bottom of the First Division, replete with a consolatory box of doughnuts and what my mother describes as ‘frankly extremely disappointing’ gap year weight gain, would be over. Or so I thought.

They were quite pleased – my grandma has even stopped introducing me as ‘the one that goes to school’. It hardly propelled me to the forefront of topics for discussion during Christmas dinner family ‘banter’ though. The one time Cambridge did get a mention could hardly be viewed as a success, because my sister had my six and seven-year-old cousins rolling around on the floor with laughter when she told them that it’s actually called ‘Lamebridge’ (seriously, it’s hilarious). However, if I’m honest, the inadequacies my grandma’s introductions seem to generate aren’t a patch on the feelings of inadequacy I experience during term-time, when I’m confronted by all the successes of members of the student body.

Gracing the ADC stage, braving the 6am cold, sprinting up and down the rugby pitch and filling the choir stalls: the University is a hotbed of talent, nurturing a generation of future stars, or simply affording people who are ‘good at stuff’ the time and facilities to become really ‘good at stuff’. But I put to you an alternative scenario. What if you are sorely missing a finely honed ‘it’s-been-my-passion-since-I-was-six’ (AKA 'I’ve got a really pushy Dad') special gift?

Last term, for instance, my subject department in college threw a Christmas party, inviting all of its students to showcase their talents in an evening of festive fun. One of the organisers paid me a cheery visit a week prior to the event, asking me what I was planning to perform. I replied that I would not be performing. Oh, but couldn't I sing a song? I don’t sing. Well then couldn’t I write something and read it aloud? I’d rather eat my own face than read something I’d written myself aloud, knowing full well that it would later be privately ridiculed by my DoS. But what did I do then? Surely I must do something? No. I don’t. Cue distasteful look and hasty exit.

Now I don’t want you to think that I’m proud of my lack of extra-curricular prowess. Far from embracing it, I just try to be accepting of it. And I do ‘do’ things. Like sport and shit. (But in all seriousness, you can’t write ‘goal shooter for college mixed netball team’ on your CV…). So when I was considering my New Year’s resolutions, my aim was to avoid the ridiculous and unachievable that I have so often favoured in the past. ‘Write a book’ and ‘get a rowing blue’ were promptly binned. ‘Go the gym and run for an hour every day’ was also chucked after I heard Pink on Radio 1 saying she does that. She’s got those muscle ‘v-lines’ above her crotch that make her look like a bloke. No thanks.

So I’m trying to settle for realistic goals, and stop venting bitterly via the medium of internet tabloids about the ones I can’t achieve. I have instead vowed to be thrilled by the successes of, among others, the emotionally charged thespians and hormonally charged sportsmen and women without a hint of resentment, and to support my friends when they do the things at which they are good.  If you are lacking in the talent department, you probably just need to get over it and appreciate watching those who aren’t. And maybe take up knitting. As for attempting the removal of the ‘gap year weight’ (because I do want my mother to love me again), who am I kidding?  It’s not going to happen in term time/ probably ever, plus my sister, the’ Lamebridge’ promoter, is after all the dresses I can no longer zip up. Fat chance.