Tab Rates vs. Tab Slates: Week Seven

It’s the penultimate installment and Rates/Slates is feeling peaky.

Catz doctor Hockey illness supervision Trumpington Street university

Inadvertent wardrobes. This term, I have acquired what I fondly refer to as the lost property bin. It is a moniker that revisits that demonic gleam in my hockey teacher’s eye when I admitted I’d forgotten a shinpad and she directed me to the bin of spoiled and pungent detritus in order to ‘kit up’. This lost property bin is, by contrast, rather perfumed and populated largely by clothes much nicer than mine: they are lovely clothes which lovely friends have left in my set. But these lovely friends often forget to return to claim said garments, and thus all of a sudden I find myself with an inadvertent wardrobe of cardies, accessories and the odd coat with which to offset my own mouldering outfits, bedraggled after too many cycles in Catz’s industrial washing tubs. It’s great – like being in Topshop, but everything’s free and in my room and kind of mine by default! After last week’s ‘danger milk’ revelation, I continue to endeavour that, eventually, no one will ever come to visit me and I will be left, sitting in someone else’s clothes sniffing off milk and stealing glances out of the curtains.

Doctors. Being half-Scottish, I purport that I have a congenital refusal to indulge illness. My attendance record at school was impeccable, because my Glaswegian mother favoured erring on the side of cruelty and sending me to school, even if I had been vomiting blood from my ears all night. And therefore I became inured against ailments great and small. I don’t necessarily know why I perceive this as symptomatic of my half-Scottish genealogy. Probably something to do with the cold or something. But I maintain that were Alex Salmond to have his way, you might take the economy, but come an apocalyptic pandemic we’d all be round my Gran’s laughing over Sky News as yet another South-Eastern cherub was put into isolation. Of course, this is a horrible, philistine preamble; but it is a preamble to the admission that this week I wussed out and decided that a doctor’s visit was necessary. I don’t think dizzy spells are normal. ‘You mean you get a head rush when you stand up or, for example, walk too quickly?’ ‘Um, no,’ I mused, not wanting to ask exactly what it is about me that screams, ‘I find it too onerous to walk at speed without needing a cup of sweet tea and a sit down’. ‘Is this, er, brought on by consuming alcohol?’ he enquired delicately. No!! I am not describing the sensation of intoxication!! I am ill!! Indulge me in the way that my mother never has!! Prescribe me something!! Take some blood!! Of course, I didn’t actually exclaim any of these excessively punctuated effusions. Instead, I left with the vague sensation that he was taunting me. I am now worried I did something wrong. Was I meant to tip the fellow when I walked in? Ought I to have wedged a twenty between the tibia and fibula of the friendly display skeleton chilling in the corner of his surgery? Please can someone just prescribe me something!! Take some blood!!

Basic academic failures. It is standard practice to arrive at a supervision with only a Spark Notes grounding in the text that I am supposed to have read, perhaps a cheeky copy of the ‘A Short Introduction To…Literature’ stuffed into a deep pocket out of sight. I say this not to boast – oh wow, look at me, I’m so radical, I don’t do any of my reading, I’m like, post-reading or something – but as a lament. I symbolise an academic void, one which could have been filled by a conscientious, model applicant who wouldn’t still be in the grips of the mystifying conviction that, ‘it’ll all be fine come Finals,’ despite evidence arguing the opposite, and what’s more, with the sort of convincing, coherent and structured case I can never muster in an essay. But I am used to watching them deflate as they realise that all I have to contribute for the next 90 minutes is some A-Level dialogue about the theme of revenge in Hamlet. Unconsciously however, I am always attempting to atone for my own academic subnormality by always ensuring that I always have more than sufficient stationery for the supervision ahead. I may not be able to say anything, but boy can I underline notes with my 15cm flexi-ruler! I definitely haven’t read the tome you wrote, but I have a menagerie of gel pens spanning three different models of rollerball nib! I may be making a mockery of the discipline to which you have dedicated your existence, but I have both blank and lined paper with me! (For what, in case I need to construct a diagram? For my English degree? I disgust even myself.) So this week symbolises a failure of catastrophic dimensions. This week I plunged to the nadir. I forgot to bring a pen to my dissertation supervision. Opening my bag and realising this, I emitted a strangled sob that I disguised as indigestion. I sat with my paper (lined, not blank, incidentally) open on my lap and then put on my best ‘thinking’ face. But lo. About ten minutes in, my supervisor enquired, ‘Aren’t you going to write any of this down?’ ‘Um. I have a really good memory’. He surveyed me with an archly cynical eye. ‘You forgot a pen, didn’t you?’ ‘Um. Yes.’ I am a void. A husk.