Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates: Week Four

Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates apologises for its lateness this week, but it’s been in a dire essay crisis and the maintenance man’s pigeon carcass didn’t help matters.

Ark bike Catz Crisps Drinking Ede & Ravenscroft English Faculty King's Librarian Maintenance Man port Sainsbury's Sam Smiley's Basket Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates

Mysterious benefactors. While my bike basket is accustomed to serving as a receptacle for leaflets, empty crisp packets and the occasional bit of baguette from Sam Smiley’s, flung at rage into my wicker vessel after the consumer bit his tongue trying to scale the knobbly bit at the end, recently, trips to the bike rack have yielded a new prize. I keep discovering a new brand of carrier bag placed considerately on top of the pile of mouldering leaves currently forming a viscous ecosystem at the bottom of the basket. On Monday, the gift being a ubiquitous orange Sainsbury’s bag, I presumed a violent gust had carried it in there. Admittedly, finding a jaunty pink Ark bag the following day threw me, but it was only by Wednesday, when an Ede & Ravenscroft bag was perching imperially on the top of the basket, its (possibly) whalebone frame too robust to be folded and forced into the body of the basket itself, that I began to consider that this was some sort of elaborate, if perfectly good-willed, practical joke. Perhaps a neo-environmentalist, determined that I do not continue to ask Shirley for a plastic bag when picking up a bottle of Basics vodka and a bag of Royal Galas, has made sure that my bike always carries an environmentally-friendly alternative for my Sainsbury’s dash?

Aggressive Sexual Harassment. On Wednesday, en route to another hour and a half of ritualised pseudo-slaughter (a supervision, not a simulated sacrificial cult that I have joined), a man on the street growled at me. ‘I’d like me a piece of that,’ the rumbling predator burred. I wept tears of amusement. He was the least likely candidate for such aggressively-worded sexual harassment, being possibly four foot tall, mounted on a girl’s bike and wearing a fluorescent helmet at a particularly rakish angle: either a sartorial decision or, more likely, designating possible mental health complications. Finding me neither perturbed nor particularly suggestible to whatever it was he was offering, he growled again, at which point another woman was very visibly offended and I scuttled down Senate House Lane choking on my own saliva, (symptomatic of my excessive amusement, rather than of some congenital dysfunction).

Roadkill. I was trying to write an essay on the plays of Euripides and Sophocles, having read a very small fraction of their canon. I was very sad. Very very sad. Spotting my sorrow, my favourite maintenance man sat down next to me in the smoking area and asked if I wanted to see something. Pretty certain he wasn’t about to expose himself – not positive, but pretty sure – I agreed. Yes, I did want to see something. He brought out a Sainsbury’s bag – seemingly a theme of my week – and with the hushed, venerable air of someone about to unleash his life’s work, untied the ragged ties and opened his booty. It was a dead pigeon. I suddenly went very cold. I was outside, why did I suddenly feel so trapped? Was it possibly the glorified rodent carcass mouldering in an orange bag under my nose? Quite possibly, yes. I think it was safe to say that my essay crisis had reached a new low.

Weather-related calamities. I was pretty excited about my packet of prawn cocktail crisps. I was less excited about travelling down the wind tunnel of King’s Parade, wielding, as I was, a completed essay that I was about to hand in and which I feared may be carried off in a violent gust. But I had a bag of reconstituted prawn-flavoured morsels and life was looking good. I hadn’t yet even seared the roof of my mouth on a particularly sharp reconstituted prawn-flavoured morsel. Perhaps it was my surprise at this unusual dental dexterity, but all of a sudden, I wasn’t holding a bag of reconstituted prawn-morsels any more. Instead, they were littering King’s lawn like some kind of cheap, deep-fried confetti, the sort of residue left trampled into the floors of a Wetherspoons after the wedding of a Glasgow ganglord’s daughter. But short of leaping over King’s wall and licking crisp particles off the grass, in a blatant of violation both of the sanctity of this lawn and the five second rule, I was sort of stuck. Instead, I hovered around until the opportunistic pigeon who had been watching this whole debacle unfold waddled towards the remains of my salty delicacy and I abandoned the scene of recrimination.

Personalised emails. Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates has long since documented my struggle with various librarians, the English Faculty duenna being a particular adversary of mine. I’d say she was an unreasonable harridan – she is – but I do owe the faculty £87.50 in fines and £20 worth of lost books. Every time I receive a ‘Statement of Fines and Fees’ email, graduation becomes infinitely less likely; what becomes more likely is me, sitting on King’s Parade swigging from a bottle of college port, vomit forming an intricate crust on my clothes, watching the rest of my year’s procession towards futures, employments and successes, while I ramble about how, ‘it should have been me,’ had I only paid the requisite fines and cleared my path to graduation. But when am I going to have a spare £90? Furthermore, I am now getting personal emails from my  college librarian. What is worst is that he, unlike EngFac harridan is not angry but pleading; not righteously indignant about my incompetence but genuinely dismayed. He is begging me to return ‘Flaubert’s Characters’ but ultimately does not expect me to do so. I have single-handedly obliterated Colin’s faith in humanity and there is something rather awful about this.