Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates: Week Eight
It’s the final installment of Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates. You know you’re going to miss it.
The punting guys who stalk King’s Parade. I’m going to do something deeply unpopular and stand up for the guys who stomp up and down King’s Parade flogging extortionate punt rides. Give them a break, they do have to learn to say “punting” in four different languages. Admittedly, we got off to a difficult start. “Is that a Barbour? You twat.” “Where’s your accent from? Scotland? Do you live in a mud hut with only your Barbour for warmth then?” But after spending a baltic, wet morning helping out at the Amnesty stall with this lot for company (they‘re nothing if not waterproof), I feel a sort of inextricable bond has developed between us. You know, the kind of bond you never managed to cement with your college sibling because they admitted four days into your (forced) acquaintance that they didn’t believe in showering (admitted, and verified by the pungent fug hanging around them). I admire the punters’ laugh-in-the-face-of-the-British-season (yep, we only have one, it’s completely unpredictable and whatever you’re wearing, it is inappropriate) philosophy as they saunter up and down the same ten metre stretch in indecently short shorts (a sartorial choice defended on the grounds that “punting is wet” – yes, the stretch of water is integral to the process). Long live Scudamore and his princely champions.
Inventive chat-up lines. Courtesy of my favourite maintenance man at St Catharine’s College, after I commented that he’d almost run me over with one of those massive trolleys used for transporting undergraduate’s lives from parental nest (well, the Ford Focus) to your broom cupboard on the eighth floor of college’s ‘new’ (read: circa Seventies) block: “Don’t worry darlin’, if I ran you over I’d soon revive you with the kiss of life.” I was touched by the romance of the sentiment. Well. Romance-ish. OK, well it’s still more appealing than someone slurring, “Can I buy you a VK?” as an opener and chucking a couple of salt and vinegar crisps down your dress ‘flirtatiously’.
Ballot battles. For someone who’s middling on the ballot and therefore not going to get a great room, but probably not going to be stuck with one of the ones that I affectionately call ‘The Dungeons’ (complete with chains, dripping walls, shackled and a withered old crone in the corner croaking callous fatalisms. Probably.), I can observe the ballot battles fought between those in the golden spots at the top with the kind of detached amusement with which you watch a couple having a minor argument. A painful atmosphere descends in hall when you off-handedly refer to the ballot and realise that two of the people sitting with you haven’t spoken since Wednesday when X realised that Y was going for the exact room with the south-facing window and pleasing proximity to the gyp room even though he said when asked that he was going for the room next to it and now Y has ruined everything.
King’s Wall. A multipurpose location. You could eat your M&S wrap there. You could drink your Nero’s without worrying about spilling it all over your jumper (and chin) after attempting the ambitious task of drinking and walking simultaneously. You can smoke a cigarette there, without worrying about bumping into someone and having to pant “Hi!” enthusiastically at them after attempting the ambitious task of smoking and walking simultaneously. You can people watch, and get a simply fantastic array of specimens, since it is one of the town’s main thoroughfares, which means you can also wait for (read: stalk) that girl you fancy because if you sit there long enough in all probability she will pass you at some point (oh, when she walked past you could smell her hair! Would it have been a bad idea to try and stroke it? Tomorrow. You’ll stroke it tomorrow.) You can chat on the phone. You can chat to the punters. See? Multipurpose.
Offensive post. Obviously, it is trite to observe that post is a source of inexplicable joy during term. Obviously, it is trite to observe this, but I have just made the observation nonetheless. However, what is not a source of inexplicable joy is receiving a letter from your doctor expressing concern about your (filthy) smoking habits and inviting you to some kind of counselling for the nicotine dependent, where I will possibly be assigned a sponsor who’s been off the fags for three years and “never felt better!!!” “Just picking up this brochure means you’re already thinking seriously about going smokefree. That’s great.” Well. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t pick it up. I’m pretty sure it was sent to me. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure smokefree is actually an incorrect amalgamation of two words, namely smoke and free. So, again, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure it’s not “great”. It’s just a big old altruistic act that serves to make me feel shit. I pre-empt the comments below slating me for being so arsey about this, but in my defence, I know that smoking is Bad For Me. I know this and I am exercising free will in continuing to do so. And I don't think a grammatically-challenged leaflet will catalyse an epiphany. My only consolation is that I could practically screw the leaflet into a ball and throw it directly into the paper bin in the waiting room, so close is Trumpington Street Medical Practice to the Porters Lodge of my own college. Ha. My doctor just wasted 39p on an impotent first class stamp. It’s the petty victories that count.
Pity. Alright, so I have a hole in my shoe. I am sufficiently disgruntled at the pond I sloshing around in my left ballet pump without you simpering at me as though I am some sort of dispossessed waif, with the sort of look usually only reserved for those emaciated donkeys in the animal charity adverts. There’s something about pity that is quite repellent. Sympathy is comforting. Pity is rather condescending. Even The Cold Hard Truth is preferable to pity. “Yep. That was fucking stupid. Have fun getting yourself out of that one.” “Yep. This essay is poorly researched, poorly written – does that sentence just stop half-way through? Did you just get bored of that sentence, Phoebe? – and generally very poor. Don‘t expect a stellar supervision report at the end of this term. You aren’t getting one.”
Talking to yourself. If you’re talking to yourself whilst alone in your room with only the possibility of a perplexed flatmate as auditory verification of this eccentric practice, that’s fine. If you’re talking to yourself whilst ambling down King’s Parade and then come face-to-face with a quite aggressive man who becomes convinced that it is to him that you are directing your introspective ramblings, that’s less fine. “Oi. Are you talking to me?” “Um. Oh, no, sorry.” “Who were you talking to then?” “Um, myself?”
Extended library opening hours. “From [date-that-seems-absurdly-long-before-your-first-exam] we’ll be keeping your invaluable faculty resource open till [time-that-is-hours-after-you-would-have-given-up-working-on-any-given-day].” Otherwise known as It’s A Sign. Not revising? You should be now. Of course, the only people who will profit from the extended library hours are the librarians who are being paid overtime for working there. Everyone actually studying there will be staring off at that indeterminate space in the distance, eyes clouding over with tears, the hysteria slowly rising in their chest, as they realise they really haven’t done any work for one/two/three years and the library being open longer is not rectifying this error.
Emails about resources you don’t use. What’s a Camtool? Should I be using one? Should I fine someone on a swap for using one? Or does everyone use one and I’m just the big lemon who doesn’t know what one is after almost two years at this university?