Evie Prichard

EVIE PRICHARD returns as a columnist to reveal her travails with toasters, tramps and the contents page of Time Out.

For the first time ever, The Tab has brought back two of its best columnists.

Evie Prichard and Anna Isaac will be writing on an alternating fortnightly basis. Keep your eyes peeled for our new crop of columnists later in the week!


During the past two terms several interesting things have happened to me. I left my phone in a pile of rubbish outside McDonalds and had to buy it back from a tramp; I had a near death experience with a toaster; I got to exactly the same place again in Jailbreak and, having invited a load of friends over to celebrate fake Christmas, I found our family’s tree pruned into something distinctly unchristmassy. Something which really has no place in the story of the Virgin Birth.

All of these incidents might, at a stretch, be column worthy. I learned valuable lessons ranging from the practical (always unplug the toaster before sticking a knife in it; never tell anyone suppressing giggles where the garden shears are kept), to the profound.

I learned when the tramp charged me only £30 for my HTC that moderate kindness from someone in desperate need is far more admirable than the casual honesty with which I’d have handed it in. I learned from the toaster debacle that life is a fleeting gift and we must clutch at every day like it’s our last, skip barefoot across the meadow of youth etc. etc.

But the incident from which I’ll be drawing enduring life lessons this week is something much less obviously interesting than any of the above. It’s the college telephone campaign.

I spent two weeks at the beginning of this holiday flirting with strangers and learning more than is useful about railway signalling systems and data storage mainframes. I also talked to a huge number of fascinating, friendly and largely generous people.

Before we could get started, though, I had to sift through hundreds of little lists of people’s interests, ticking those with which I thought I had something in common. I’ve never been a fan of melodrama, so I’ll tell you plainly that it was a stark and uncompromising vision of the fate that lies in store for us all.

As a result of my research I’ve discovered that it is a statistical certainty, a rigorously proved scientific truth, that the majority of us upon graduation will become the sorts of people who describe their own interests as “food, wine, theatre, foreign travel”. That is all we have to look forward to: homogeneity and meals out.

Now I’m not saying that these don’t sound like the components of a contented, comfortable, affluent life. Of course they do. But I still wonder at what point in our futures our carefully cultivated eccentricities and quirks, the awkward first steps we’ve all been taking towards individual personhood, will boil themselves down to the contents page of a Time Out guide? How could so large a proportion of the interesting and interested graduates of Cambridge end up leading exactly the same life? And shouldn’t we be at least a little afraid of ending up the same way?

So the moral of my article today is simple. If we want to avoid the scorn of some gauche and judgemental 20-year-old in thirty years’ time, we must try to retain the originality to which we aspire at the moment. We must follow through our most lunatic ambitions and refuse to compromise our individuality for mere comfort.

And if we do this perfectly, if we dedicate our entire lives to this aim and nothing else, we may come somewhere close to the brilliantly evocative, haiku-like sparsity of my favourite interests list of all time. “DIY. Small children. Canals.”

University of Cambridge columnist Evie Prichard telephone campaign time out toaster tramps