Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates: Exam Term
Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates returns for an exam term special to stop you crying over your folders and spider diagrams.
Feeling smug. Miffed after the librarian requested I leave the library with my illicit cappuccino, I took refuge in Nero’s, next to a couch of two of what can only be described as the most cripplingly insipid specimens on the planet. ‘OMG babes, you’re going to Tit Hall too?! OMG babes! OMG!!!!!’ Yes. Your confidante is also going to Trinity Hall June Event. I’m sure it’ll be a topper evening. Next item on the agenda was the latte versus cappuccino debate: ‘Yeah, but I think the big thing is that one of them has chocolate on the top’ – the very cornerstones of philosophical thought are being shaken right there. Or rather, there’s a small corner of a Nero’s chain that will be forever insipid. Then a brief pause as one of them pondered over another mot juste: ‘You know…going out makes you really tired the next day’. Nothing like the moronic to make you feel better about your own exam chances.
Vending machine jackpot. Demoralised after my witty Roland Barthes anecdote had gone down like the proverbial lead balloon – ‘did you know Roland Barthes died by getting hit by a laundry van!’ Pause during which I could actually see my supervisor’s opinion of me plummeting from ‘monosyllabic in speech, but responds with a start to swift movements’, to ‘possible isolated case of rogue ammonia fumes poisoning during Fridge-gate’ – I went to the vending machine. Only calories could resuscitate my flagging spirits. 55p went in and – what’s this? – two Twixs came out! Let me tell you, there is no feeling like strolling into the library, parading your second bar ostentatiously for all to envy. Of course, most people just think you’re a glutton for whom one Twix isn’t sufficient, but you know that an act of God/Roland Barthes (R.I.P.) got you those Twixs and you’re bloody well going to enjoy every caramel whisker that becomes attached to your face when you eat it and which you then spend three hours licking off.
Inventive vengeance. See, you know that no matter how many 14 hour stints you put in, you’ll spend at least six of those hours on extended bathroom breaks, experiencing the post-Twix double comedown and speaking in a hoarse whisper (whispering – actually very loud) to your friend who has had the inconsideracy to ring you while you’re putting in said marathon stint. So instead of revising, why not start compiling a mental list of ‘intimidation tactics’? Two minutes into exam, ask for more paper. Hum at a decibel that is just above silence – just enough to make the people around you think that there is some kind of insect colonising the whorl of their right ear. Put your hand up halfway through and ask for another exam paper because you’ve ‘finished, checked it over and double-checked it over’. Start laughing maniacally. Place a menagerie of mascots on your desk when you arrive, one of which being a Bear Factory bear with a voice box with your own specially recorded message. Message must be something creepy, and bear must be knocked off desk, tripping off speech mechanism (in best of all possible intimidation scenarios. I sense I’m getting a bit carried away now). Preparation and imagination is the mantra. Remember marking criteria: the worse they do, the better you do.
Liars. ‘You look, er, ‘ravishing’ today, Phoebe…’ Alright. I know I have flour in my eyebrows (see Slates) and am sporting a shell-shocked-at-all-times-for-no-apparent-reason expression, but I got up 15 minutes early to apply this coat of mascara on top of the coat I couldn’t be bothered to take off last night and to smear some concealer that is no longer the same hue as my complexion because I’ve been spending so much time indoors and I feel the least you could do is pretend I look fit for human consumption. And possibly cajole me in the direction of those make-up ladies at John Lewis who may, for £18 per 10ml, be able to provide the panacea for all my mismatched skintone woes.
Dramatic showering injuries. See, the thing about being in the shower is you’re naked. You’re naked and you’re vulnerable and were you, say, to fall over you’d probably bruise quite badly what with the lack of any clothes to cushion you. So were you, say, to misjudge the temperature, having already assumed arrogantly that you don’t need that rubber mat designed to prevent you slipping (‘rubber mat? Pah! That’s for infants and the elderly! I’ve been standing for nigh on nineteen years now, I don’t need some kind of prop to keep me upright!’). Yelping loudly as scalding water spurts out of the showerhead and onto your very naked back, it seems you might, say, also fall over. You might then, say, grab the shower curtain in an effort to retain upright status (‘Need some kind of prop to keep me upright!! Where is prop?!’) You might even, say, find yourself on the floor, in a heap, floating in semi-consciousness with the same utter bafflement and numbness of a bomb victim. Admittedly, you’d still have all your limbs and apart from small patch on back, you are probably burn free, but the trauma seems comparable. That is, say this were to happen. Say.
Your body. Frankly, I don’t want to sit opposite you. I’ve made a concerted effort to territorialise, short of actually urinating on my desk and the surrounding carpeted area, I couldn’t make it much clearer that I Don’t Want You Sitting Opposite Me. But I see you, wandering around, looking plaintively for an invitation to take the admittedly vacant seat (well, cranny, I’m not a generous landlord) opposite me. But fine. So be it. On your own head be it. But I emphatically don’t want to hear that Galaxy Caramel whinnying as it travels through your small intestine. That three bean wrap you had as part of your Boots meal deal? I don’t want to imagine it writhing in your stomach acid, bean after third bean slowly submerging into the depths of the belly. And that knowing, slightly sheepish grin you give me afterwards – ‘Ha, my old stomach’s at it again!’ – I don’t want that either. Your indigestion isn’t going to become the glue that cements our library companionship. Piss off and buy some Rennies.
Unknown enemies. No, not exam papers. If you’d done more work this year they wouldn’t be the unknown, they’d merely be exercises in which you could exhibit your flair and aptitude for your subject. Flour is my ‘unknown enemy’. Reeling from an encounter with the door jamb, which reared tyrannically out of the half-light of my bedroom, I opened the kitchen cupboard and suddenly, rather perplexingly, found myself covered in a white powder. Wondering whether I’d found my bedders’ vice trove, and whether this dousing would actually be, retrospectively the moment I uncovered the best Tab front page in the history of front pages, it transpired white powder was not cocaine but actually flour, and this was less my bedders’ vice trove than a possible practical joke. It’s really hard to get flour out of your eyebrows.
Street hawkers. I don’t want your leaflet advertising a three hour compassion chant to express perturbation for the plight of one eared orphans in Romania at Great St Mary‘s Church. I don’t want your leaflet telling me there’s a great deal on cut price sports socks at JJB Sports (!!!!). Do I look as if I am in the market for a cut price sports sock? I don’t think I do. Last week a man approached me and asked if I was ‘looking to make some money?’ I remain unsure as to whether he was asking me if I wanted to become a prostitute. He didn’t even have a garish leaflet (‘Do you want to make money from home? Sell your body! Just thirty minutes of oral sex a day and your disposable income will make you the envy of all your friends!’) that explicated his cause. Amateur.