Alex Jackman: Week 1

In his debut column, jaded third-year ALEX JACKMAN explains how he got to where he is today.

Alex Jackman boarding school column columnist reveal columnists cynical first column Jaded life story primary school week 1

Hello Cambridge. I’m Alex Jackman. I promised nothing in my introduction, and I intend to deliver it. I was just watching the freshers passing happily beneath my window. They know nothing of being a jaded and cynical third year: purposeless, anxious, and wracked by the guilt of unfulfilled potential. So let’s look back at how I ended up bitter, and on The Tab.

Figure 1 - Freshers: this is you in two years' time

Figure 1 – Freshers: this is you in two years’ time

Primary school was not life-affirming. Teachers ended up explaining to Mum that her son was alone in the playground “because his games are too complicated”.  It turns out most six-year-olds don’t question the physical basis of stuck-in-the-mud or discuss the hygiene problems of kiss chase. I fear those long, lonely afternoons by the wendy house watching the cool kids play football may explain why I now think that everyone currently in Fitz café is judging me for sitting alone and crying as I tap away on my laptop.

I grew older, and moved to Cumbria. While in the South being openly nerdy and awkward is a source of ridicule, Northerners are simply uninterested, and let you get on with it. Unfortunately, I “sounded posh” and so got bullied, once for using the word “curriculum” in conversation. Happily, the other boy now works in ASDA. At this point I’d like to say that I’m not technically posh.

Figure 2 - Wearing a dinner suit, but disdaining what it represents

Figure 2 – Wearing a dinner suit, but disdaining what it represents

Sixth-form, boarding school, and I began to project that unique public-school veneer of charm and wit. To combat this, I decided to apologise for things pre-emptively and be awkward for no good reason. Here’s an example from this Freshers’ Week:

Enigmatic Sam: (might be a recurring figure in my columns, so if you plan to endure more than one, remember him): This guy writes for the Tab now. He’s the B’est of NOCs.
Friendly Fresher: …
Me: Sorry, no, I’m not really that…I’m actually very awkward, sorry! Ha ha ha. Er, [mumbles] which block are you living in this year?
FF: Which what? Which block? Oh! C block!
Me: C block. Sorry…well…that’s fine, yeah …rooms are…view of the bike park…abysmal.
FF: [Laughing] Oh, the bike park! Yeah, it’s gorgeous, right? My room was odd when I arrived, the bed was, like, in the middle of the room and…
Me: …Don’t  want to fall out of bed hahahahahaa!
FF: No!
Me: Sorry, I’m not usually this awkward
Wanky Tom: He is. You are.
Me: I am always this awkward.

[About 30 seconds pass in silence. We are all looking in different directions.]

Me: Wouldn’t this be funny if I wrote about it in the Tab? Like, “Ha I’m so awkward!”…I bet THAT’S never been done before! Sorry, feel free to leave, at any time, at ANY time, sorry.
FF: No! It’s fine, this is a more interesting conversation that the usual fresher things.
Me: I’m going to go. Sorry for inflicting myself upon your life for the last fifteen minutes.
FF: Nooo! It’s fine, what are you talking about?
Me: It was nice meeting you! Sorry.

I originally applied for a university that was not Cambridge, and failed to get in for English. When asked at interview whether I liked the Romantic poets, I replied, “not really”. In the magical world of UCAS lies, I had mentioned a deep and abiding love of Wordsworth. Yet I hadn’t actually read any, due to my campaign to be one of the cool kids who only works ironically – part of the reason I now study geography.