Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates: Week Two
Rates vs. Slates has had a lot of cycle-related amusement/distress this week, as well as feigning madness to escape college jurisdiction.
Bike names. Often, I make observations that shred the conversational continuum. Instead of the desired susurration of consensus, there is a confused silence, or worse, vehement disapproval of what I have said. However, this one went down reasonably well: has anyone ever noticed that bikes often sound like they’ve been named after nightclubs or Wetherspoon’s in middling-sized regional towns? Strolling down the street the other day, I encountered a ‘Helium’ and a ‘Zest’, and found my own – sadly unnamed – bike parked next to a ‘Regency’. I can see ‘Helium’ now: multiple televisions blasting music channels on which Sean Paul is still an artist, an enamel vista with fluorescent strobe lights beaming like spotlights into its dark corners where girls called Chelsea gyrate for no one in particular. ‘Helium‘ is probably in Slough. ‘Zest’ is an advertising buzzword, a word that believes it is ‘happening’ and which, in Hull, might confer some kind of edgy status rather than evoking images of advertising wankers in a conference room burring about how to make a can of soup sound ‘fresh’. And ‘Regency’ reeks of an attempt to connote class by fostering an association with low-level aristocracy. This is a fun game.
Sign Language. I’ve lost my voice. In fact, I currently sound like my voice box has been put through a mangle; hence, I have taken to sign language. Not the legitimate, official sign language, but signs that are universally accepted as designating a certain action or word. So I point at something when I want someone to give me that something. Pointing up means I am going upstairs. Touching myself – not like that – in a clockwise motion and simulating water falling from the showerhead by wiggling my fingers means I am going to have a shower. Obviously. Miming a pantomime version of someone consuming food means let’s go to hall. This is also a fun game.
Making yourself sound like a lunatic. At Catz, they are particularly pedantic about posters on walls. Even though the previous occupant of my room was certainly using blu-tack, I have had a number of altercations with the head of housekeeping regarding this matter. Nonetheless, being such a maverick, a rebel with an adhesive cause, I have ignored her pleas to keep the posters off the walls. But you don’t become head of housekeeping without some smarts. Yesterday, she sent an underling to my room. His guise was that he was just checking that I was happy with the room: it sounded specious. Yep, I said, eyes narrowed. He then asked if he could see the room. I said I didn’t usually let people in. Disarmed, he questioned my motives. I said I just didn’t like people touching my stuff. Or seeing my room. I basically don’t let people go in there, I said. By now, he was definitely troubled by my mental state but he was also stymied because, short of actually pushing me out of the way and forcing entry to my abode, he couldn’t actually do anything. ‘Righty-oh, then. As long as you’re happy.’ I watched him leaving, exaggerating my breathing slightly for Lecter-esque effect. He won’t be coming back.
Faculty Bulletins. I know it’s my fault I chose to study English. But do I really have to be subjected to the nauseating faculty bulletins that are circulated weekly? For example, the post-exams installment twittered, ‘Sooooooooo, there we go. What’s past is prologue, what to come in yours and my discharge. Not sure what it means but it sounds good for the occasion!’ I take umbrage with, ‘sounds good for the occasion’. I think what would actually have been good is a brief, economically-worded expression of communal relief about the end of exams. Ditto this week’s kernel of faculty wisdom: ‘A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. Says Mark Twain. Now discuss me that!’ Um. ‘Says Mark Twain’ is not a sentence. I particularly resent the imperative form : I don’t want to ‘discuss that’. The faculty bulletin really does not need this wailing attempt at self-expression. It can just be a functional address.
Cycle Creeps. When approaching an intimidating or eccentric character on the street there is always the moment at which your spirit plunges to its nadir as you realise that yes, they are going to harangue you. I was cycling my bike very slowly in the Grange Road area on Saturday night; as was a chap who looked like the offering if Care in the Community decided to field a competitor in the Tour de France. He was watching me quite intently; I knew that he was going to detract from the pleasure of my cycle ride in some way. And yes, of course he sidled up to me unsteadily and requested to be allowed to cycle with me. I firmly explained that I didn’t really need a chaperone, but thanks nonetheless. He was insistent; we were going to be cycle friends and he was going to accompany me. I demurred that I didn’t think we were going to the same place. He insisted we were. Thus what followed was a period of time during which cycle creep stretched temporal and social parameters. I believed I was going to be cycling with him forever; I was convinced his conversation about my wicker basket would travel to ever more dizzying depths of banality. I arrived at my location. We stopped. I muttered something about him leaving. He remained still. I walked my bike over to the bike racks. Yep, still watching. I locked it up. Yep, still watching. I walked towards the building. Yep, still watching. I sometimes wonder if he is still watching right now.
Insincerity. I understand that Freshers are still immersed in their indeterminate ‘settling in’ period. I understand, although I don’t actually care. I also understand that my cruel and world-weary affections are not endearing. However, what is also not endearing is the false sincerity practised by these Freshers, which I think in turn validates my own cruel and world-weary affectations. Sitting in college’s smoking area, I was stumbled upon – literally – by a very drunk and very loud Fresher girl, who proceeded to inform me that the bar was ‘full of boring third years’. I pointed out that I was a third year, to which she gushed, ‘Oh but you’re a cool one, it’s OK’. We’d never met before, and I rather doubt that repute of my ‘coolness’ has become water-cooler conversation in Fresher gyp rooms college-wide just yet. I resented her obsequiousness and therefore found myself in the perverse circumstance in which I wanted to assure her that I was, in fact, deeply, chronically, even criminally, boring so that her presumptions would expose her as an fawning little brat. Unfortunately, she was so drunk that my lame offering that I was writing an essay and thus might be construed as quite a boring character fell flat and she went to scream at someone else, leaving me seething with an indeterminate and disproportionate rage.