Reflections at Halfway Hall

At this monumental milestone, CHARLIE DOWELL looks back over his first year and a half at Cambridge.

bees Blues BNOC charlie dowell firsts goals halfway hall internships johns Natsci orchids soul stuff

I’ve had the extravagant meal, put up with fellows staring at the breasts of the woman next to me, and pretended to be interested in their view on the decline of college sport since it became mixed thirty years ago. Now I’m back in my room, still slightly drunk, reflecting on my demi degree. What have I achieved in this past year and a half? Where have my aspirations gone?

I came to Cambridge full of hope and optimism: I was going to get a hot clever girlfriend, a first and a blue. I was going to throw myself into these three goals and not look back. I would be a BNOC. It didn’t matter that I was an odd kid at school who used to grow orchids in his bathtub, or was the head of the carnivorous plants society. Who cares now I’m at Cambridge? For all they know I’m an intelligent stud and a natural sportsman.

A cluster of pink orchids

The pinnacle of my teenaged love life

Fresh faced, walking through the gates of John’s, I decided to attempt my first goal, a girlfriend. Now I am naturally an awkward chap (I once went on a date and only talked about beekeeping), but that didn’t matter now I’m at Cambridge, surely everyone here is slightly odd. Surely they’d love my chat about the waggle dance and how male bees lose their penises during sex.

Well it turned out not to be quite true. All the attractive girls were surprisingly normal, far too normal for me. They liked the same jock type I envied at school, who got all the action at parties while I sipped my beer. Faced with this social Eiger, I immersed myself into the lad culture. This was fun, I was getting smashed and actually getting with girls. Who knew alcohol (such a simple compound) could have this effect?

After the initial success of this tactic, I soon realised I could only get with girls when drunk and that really I had become a bit of pervert, scanning the dance floor like a future serial killer. This was worrying. The drinking was also not good for my body, culminating in me waking up after one heavy session not being able to walk (bad times and a lot of physiotherapy).

Standard morning after really.

Standard morning after really

Realising I was rubbish at being the lad and that my groping advances were not those of a seasoned stud, I decided to become the academic. Get that first. Girls love firsts.

This again I failed at. I’d like to say I could blame my 2:1 on my handwriting (one of my exam scripts was illegible), but in the end I was not clever anymore. Cambridge has made me stupid. Both the mental and bodily fatigue of the place have taken their toll, leaving me an academic jelly: passive with minimal interesting responses.

What now? It was the start of second year and I had achieved very little. Time to do something: get a killer internship and have a punt at that blue. Well the first one has been a success. Who knew I would end up studying more economics than a NatSci? It takes a lot of effort and quite a bit of luck (I was given a job offer despite letting out an awkwardly tangy fart in an interview) to successfully sell your soul. With that in the bag I moved on to the blue.

Blue is the warmest colour.

Blue is the warmest colour

Having never really been good at sport at school, this one was going to be the hardest. The only way to achieve this was to think of the easiest most obscure sport to play. Meandering through the Freshers’ fair, I honed in on fencing: nobody does fencing and to be honest how hard can it be.

Well very hard in fact. For the past term and a half I have had my nipples poked by a metal stick, whilst standing in prenatal squat. The three musketeers never put up with this shit. I’m pretty sure I can say au revoir to the blue, the last of my three goals.

Despite my failing at all three aims so far, I am only halfway through. There is still time to achieve any of them, but to be honest I don’t really care anymore. I just want to have a good time and maybe try and reinvigorate my previous interests. Maybe in my search for the so called Cambridge triple, I’ve lost sight of who I am and should go back to growing flowers in the bathroom or lecturing women about the sex lives of bees.