SWYN HAF investigates those momentary blips when a Cambridge education just doesn’t cut the mustard.
Cambridge – supposedly full of the country’s brightest, wittiest, etc. So why is it that we so often find ourselves phoning our old school friends – or, if we’re really in trouble, our mums – with seemingly simple dilemmas, like, “my room’s too hot – what should I do?” No wonder that when I go home and tell people where I’m studying, as often as not they’ll just laugh at me. And I know I’m not the only one who suffers from these “Cambridge stupid” moments.
Sometimes, I just can’t blame people for laughing at us – my siblings and the old ladies at the bus stop have never read the awe inspiring intellectual explorations that are our essays. They (and their equivalents all over Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, China, India and the rest of the planet) only encounter us in the real world, where Bergson’s theory on laughter really doesn’t matter, but knowing how to get red wine out of a carpet really does. So when they see pictures of us on Facebook, twatted, dining by candlelight in our gowns, and then meet us, twatted, frantically stamping copious amounts of white sugar into an ever darkening purple stain on the shag pile, of course they laugh. In fact, they usually snort and guffaw and chortle at our expense. (In case anyone is wondering, you use white WINE to get red out of a carpet, not white sugar. And you definitely, definitely don’t use red to get out white. Ever.)
Obviously, the wine stain catastrophe could sneak up on anyone. But I know that when I visit friends at other Universities, they raise their eyebrows behind my back when I ask things like, “can you tumble dry carpets?” I obviously realise that that would be logistically challenging, but I’ve trained my mind now not to reject any notion before subjecting it to rational inquiry. Sometimes I do that out loud, ok? And let’s not pretend we don’t all have our Cambridge-stupid moments.
Anyone familiar with the two dine for ten pounds deal at Marks&Spencer? Well, in case anyone falls into the same misunderstanding I heard someone else say out loud, the dining is still in the food hall. There is no secret restaurant where you can book a table.
Have you ever been frustrated by how long it takes to run a bath in the middle of your hectic, Cambridge undergrad schedule? Well, if you opt for the seemingly ingenious plan of running the taps AND the shower to speed things up, you definitely can’t leave the process unattended. And if you absolutely can’t bear the deafening sound of the bath rapidly filling up, don’t lock yourself in your room with your headphones in for twenty-five minutes. That’s just asking for trouble (in the form of a paddling pool for a bathroom and a shower for a ceiling in the kitchen below).
If you’re a scientist – Tolstoy was a writer. If you’re an arts student – genotype is not a new social label for people who only wear jeans. It’s something else, to do with… Genes, I guess?
As much as straighteners need to be switched off and unplugged after use, a hairdryer needs to be plugged in BEFORE use, otherwise it really won’t work and you really will feel like a knob when your boyfriend points this out to you, however kindly.
When leaving the fitting rooms in a shop, please remember to put your original clothes back ON after taking the new clothes back off.
A baked potato does not take as long to cook in the microwave as in the oven. But they can still be cooked in there (it amazes me how long it took me to discover this even lazier alternative to pasta!)
If you miraculously manage to set fire to the microwave, it will NOT sort itself out in a minute.
More flour cannot substitute eggs in cake mix. But apparently (I have to admit I haven’t tried this, so don’t sue me if I’m wrong) cornflour can. Continuing the culinary theme, pancakes always need to be done on both sides. Why is it that we have such problems in this area? You would expect us to be experts at microwaving and cooking things on the hob, even if not at roasting and baking… Is there something in the water, or are all our cooking brain cells just fried by all those heated supervisions?
Here, I give my lecturing a rest. Of the few atrocities I’ve mentioned above that I didn’t commit, there are none that I couldn’t easily imagine myself committing. So, I’ll stop pretending I am in any way qualified to help anyone else self improve. I just leave you with the comforting thought – I bet the students at Oxford are worse than us!