Confessions Of The Degraded: 2

Leaving the bubble: DOUGLAS THOMSON in the second part of his degrading confession.



I did well for the first few weeks at Cambridge. Established as a socialite, first on the bench at lectures, I even had things to say during supervisions. Then a series of events began and my façade slipped. I decided to change one of my modules, setting me back four weeks, which I wasn’t too resolved to catch up on. I fell for a friend and after a heavy night (and inches of spirits later) a bridge was burnt leaving the town on fire. My alarm broke and my bike got a puncture. I ended up sitting up till four in the morning trying to comprehend the lectures I had missed. Weeks of sitting in College thinking up excuses for supervision and I came out of Michaelmas battered and beaten, feeling all too nihilistic. 


Then the Christmas holidays; sheer relief of being out of the bubble, rekindling past relationships, seeing the boys again. I slipped back into my happy little world, never catching up and not giving a thought to vacation work. Here my fate was sealed, shuffling into Lent knowing nothing more than I had on my first day. Hearing people claim that they’d done “no work” was frustrating as they cycled off to lectures and supervisions – I was doing No Work and it didn’t feel good.  The music started to play quietly, but I wasn’t ready to face it. A few weeks in, and the music got louder. My supervisor made the suggestion; I made the decision. I had been thinking about it for a while, but such a thought needed to be validated, and when it was, my unhappy little world crashed around me.


I cried like a girl. The first time was walking through town, overcast and pissing it down. Talk about pathetic fallacy. Then five mornings, two evenings, and once in front of a girl who after such a stunning performance wishes she could pull off the waterworks with such style. N.B. I’m never one to cry so please return my man-card, thank you. The stresses and strains of missed deadlines, lecture truancy and abandoned supervisions seemed like a punt down the Cam compared to just the idea of throwing in the towel. I know it sounds ridiculous, and even more so coming from a NatSci, but this was my ship in the midst of a perfect storm, and with her I wanted to sink. 


During my mourning period, I’d wake up with a cycle of things I would miss wrapped around my mind. The unbelievably incredible friends, romance about to germinate, corridor parties, Fez, Kambar, Cindies…not so much, making a rollie while cycling down Tennis Court Road, Sainsbury’s just before midnight, preferring to be at Oxford than St. Johns, chundering at the Mahal, falling off bikes, pool in the college bar, drunk lectures after a night on the lash, saving the queen, admiring the architecture. More than anything that feeling you get when you realize what University you're at, the fact that you've fulfilled a dream, and that you have after all this time made your parents proud of you. 


I then picked up the phone, told mum I needed to be picked up next week, and to please bring some boxes.  Cue the tears. 


If I’m honest, I didn’t feel like I had good reason to leave. With three days before departure, my resignation letter signed and dated, I cast a discouraging look at my last chore, the trip to the doctor’s. I felt like a fraud as I sat in his office, convinced by various staff members I was depressed. He called it bullshit, not that I blame him, it being his job and all. It was humiliating trying to convince him that I had cause to degrade, with the elephant in the room being the fact that I’d already made the decision and was only there for the note. My final diagnosis was ‘anxiety’, told to quit the drinking and come back two weeks later, sober (which of course you can’t because you’ve already decided to go). 


This got me thinking about the irony of the whole situation. Degrading was strictly not for academic reasons; unless the pressure of Cambridge gives you a mental problem then it’s all support, understanding and this is your decision, get well soon. I’d had enough of this deranged microcosm. Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the bubble.