Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates: Week Seven

The penultimate installment of Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates this term. You know you don’t want to miss it.

4OD Cambridge Chatroulette drinking society Nicole Kidman Phoebe Luckhurst Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates Tom Cruise Varsity

Tab Rates

Inventive Raingear. Umbrella shmumbrella. Why use conventional raingear when you could put a plastic bag over your head! Why use conventional raingear when you could tie a jacket and/or scarf around your head, creating a cloak-like garment and thereby giving the impression you are a member of some kind of occult sex cult! Why use conventional raingear when it costs about £9 for a sodding umbrella from Boots and for that price you could buy a Ryanair flight to a hot destination! Admittedly, only as long as you commit (air) tax fraud and don’t want to take any baggage, a regulation that unconfirmed rumours suggest may soon apply even to the clothing you are actually wearing at the time of departure. But still. A Boots umbrella is more expensive than a theoretically naked, illegal Ryanair flight.

Chatroulette. Everyone is familiar with this gem of a website. If you’re not, you should be. Sick of seeing your friends’ horrified visages as you talk about wanking/whip your cock out? Now there’s an online forum where you can shuffle until you find someone who wants to hear it/see it! Sick of having no friends? Chatroulette will find you a friend! He may be middle-aged, wearing a plastic mac and a obscured behind a Pikachu mask, but he’ll love you for who you are/what age you are/what bra size you are! Chatroulette is a big democratising force for the processes of social interaction. Just shuffle away until you find someone who’ll talk to you! No one is excluded. So if you’re unable to find friendship here, you’ll know you’re a really repellent human being. Always better just to know.

Inventive Insults. In Rates purely because of their inventiveness and sheer deadpan execution. I salute the ‘offenders’ in question. The illustrious and lovely president of my drinking society: “You know, Eyes Wide Shut, the one with Tim Cruise and Nicole Kidman and the guys in cloaks and orgies and the weird sex cult? Phoebe, you must have seen it.” All eyes on Phoebe. I am obviously the sort who looks as though they may have the results of the Google search for ‘weird sex cults that partake in cloaked orgies’ in my ‘Favourites’. (Is it the bob? The over-long arms that are definitely out of proportion with the rest of my body and give the impression I may, possibly, be some kind of circus attraction?) My mother: “You’ve given up drinking for Lent? Oh darling, you must be losing so much weight!” Er. Thanks Mum. Obviously this was enough to send me straight back to the bottle (see Slates). “Nah. I wouldn’t want to marry Phoebe. She’s too tall.” I was wearing heels. I’m not even that tall. Of all the things to select, pick something that genetics decided for me and annihilate my already dented self-image (thanks Mum). Woe is me.

'Only in Cambridge’ Conversation. Not just the obscenely, offensively geeky but the incomprehensibly strange. West Road: “I mean, why on earth would I want to shower in my own bathroom? It‘s ridiculous.” Perhaps the taxing demands placed on our brains during the cycle of supervisions, seminars, panic attack in English faculty toilets, library, cigarette, chain smoke eight more cigarettes, second supervision of day, weep, removes the ability to converse on any level of normality from our capability. Fortunately, since we’re all being dragged along in the same cycle (everyone’s having panic attacks in their faculty bathrooms, right?), what constitutes the level of normality moves whilst we’re in Cambridge so no one here thinks you‘re particularly strange. Unfortunately, this redefinition of boundaries does not apply to The Rest of The World. So when you leave Cambridge, and start talking about your rejection of the notion of showering in your own bathroom, and speak with scorn about the audacious absurdity of this idea in a job interview, you will face the first professional rejection of your life.

Tab Slates

Sportsmen and women. Is it just me or is it Varsity everything at the moment? Even my very own Tab, usually a safe haven from the stresses of academia and the human condition, can’t get enough of these people who are spatially-aware and in peak physical condition. For someone who is spatially-retarded and whose physical condition can be described as ‘technically alive’ this is very galling. They’re in Life in their sporting apparel, celebrating wins and commiserating losses (that’s as specific as I can go on the scorelines), ‘grinding’ with far more co-ordination than you’ve ever managed, they’re wandering into Sainsbury’s to buy protein while I’m standing in the automated checkout trying to work out which one of my four items (Babybels, Sesame Snaps, cornflakes or vodka – Lent failed –  otherwise known as the groceries of champions, if champions lived on highly-processed, nutritionally-imbalanced groceries) needs to be removed from the bagging area before it will let me flee the looming shadows of these superior beings. And what the hell is a 'bump'? Is it good, like a high five? Or is it something humiliating like genital warts?

Awkward Supervisor Encounters. I’d just had A Really Good Supervision. You know, one of those rare gems of academic productivity, when you find yourself capable of supplementing ‘this book was good/bad’ with more sophisticated synonyms for your value judgement, and actually finding myself able to explain the reasoning behind this informed opinion. There’d even been a moment of what can only be described as sparkling ‘banter’ between myself and my academic superior. One of those moments which blurs the usually insurmountable boundary between focused academic and bleary, monosyllabic student. It was sort of like a scene from The History Boys, except without the inappropriately sexual teacher-student undertones. I’d even managed to go a whole hour without one of those interminable pauses that causes a schism between mental time and clock time as you become convinced you have actually been ‘considering their point’ for 30 seconds, but it transpires it’s been three minutes, it’s a one-on-one supervision, and the college First Aider has been called to check you haven’t actually gone into cardiac arrest. Basically, I was on fire. Until I was tossing books into my bag carelessly, causing the at least forty sugar sachets I’d ‘borrowed’ from the English Faculty graduate ‘tea station’ on the second floor to fall out of my bag. (We've run out of sugar, ok?) Awkward moment as supervisor observes my stash. “Lot of sugar there.” “Um. Yep.” “You must like sugar.” “Um. Yep.” In two seconds I had basically undone all my measured arguments by appearing both to have some kind of bizarre saccharine addiction and also a vehement objection to capitalism, since I had obviously refused to buy my own sugar. I might have to tell my DoS that there was, in fact, an inappropriately sexual student-teacher undertone to that supervision to avoid ever having to see the supervisor in question again.

Desperate Housewives. I never understood the popularity of Desperate Housewives. I would have assumed that the two words of which its title consists would have been enough of a repellent for even the least discerning of viewing public. What is attractive about ‘desperation’ or ‘housewives’, I thought. To be fair, then I saw the ‘Desperate Housewives’ in question and worked it out. I do attend the University of Cambridge and it has been said that this might therefore mean I am in possession of some quite enviable faculties of investigation and reasoning. Get this. The housewives are actually really hot. I know, I know. Genius. Which prodigious director thought of structuring a show purely around the fact that the cast members are perfect physical specimens? Unique and visionary in extremis. But really. Read the blurb for the episode I selected at random on 4oD: “Susan finds her daughter Julie unconscious in the garden after being strangled. Lynette reveals that Julie might be pregnant and, incidentally, that she herself is also pregnant – and considering an abortion. Bree worries that people will find out about her affair, while Gabrielle tries to find out what Ana was doing on the night of the attack.” A strangling, two pregnancies, an abortion, an affair and an attack. All packed into 45-odd minutes of glossy American drama. Maybe if it was set over the course of a year on a Newcastle council estate, this would be a more convincing premise. Then again, I don’t think they’d be able to find the same calibre of physical specimen.

Embarrassing Injuries. No, not that programme on Channel 4. I am not about to admit to some kind of revolting urinary tract infection and then horrify you with graphic pictures. But I seem to have self-inflicted a series of quite ‘special’ injuries this week. Lacerating my forearm on a door hinge was a highlight. “Phoebe. Have you been cutting yourself?” Well. If I had been, I’d have been doing a pretty poor job of it, wouldn't I? Forearm rather than wrist, door hinge rather than razor/compass/knife, four centimetre scab over a the name of a boy I harbour a deep, burning and intense obsession for. Then there was the morning I woke up with absolutely no feeling in my right arm. Naturally, I panicked. I think I may have shrieked. I heard my bedders’ voices drop in the corridor, obviously now labouring over my pots and pans under the illusion that I was in there having some kind of really rough, really loud, whips ‘n’ all sex. Nope. I’d just been sleeping on my own arm and managed to deaden all feeling in it. Not technically an ‘injury’ but it did take about fifteen minutes for sensation to return to normal so I’m counting it.