TAB TRIES: 24 hours in the library

Not the investigative journalism you asked for, but definitely the investigative journalism you deserve

camrbdige essay Exams labour Library Life Student university working

In the year of Our Lord 1962, when referring to the age- old issue of the essay crisis, part- time President and full time womanizer John F. Kennedy famously said, “we do [these] things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

54 years and 5 months later, part-time beleaguered Tab journo and full-time waste of space Leila Sackur (aka me) agreed and went further, stating, “we do these things not because they are easy, but because they will earn us social validation in the form of internet clicks, and also because our essay is due within this time span”. Lo, the Tab Tries: 24 Hours in the Library article was born, and angels filled the sky.

So, let’s begin. A day in the life of me, a diary.

I would not normally wake up at the crack of 9am because I am a historian and therefore haven’t actually done any work in my life ever (but it’s ok because as a historian I still won’t have a job in 3 years regardless of whether or not I do any work now, so hasta la vista, baby) but somehow I’ve managed to convince myself that 24 hours starting at 9am is somehow shorter than if I were to start it at 2pm, even though it’s still 24 hours.

I march towards the library, looking outwardly determined, but with the dread of one who knows their mission is futile. If you hold a Labour party membership, you probably know what I mean.

Marching towards socialism / sadness

9:05 in the Library. It always creeps me out how no matter what time you get here, there will always be someone here before you, with their life together. Fully dressed, banging out some colour- coded notes on their pristine 100 gsm paper. What the fuck. In my college library there are 3 different levels for you to work on, so I sit on the top one a) to prove my moral and intellectual superiority, and b) so I can observe all my competitors from above (which is definitely the moral thing to do.)

9:10 Since I’m here, I may as well do some work. Essay this week is on early- modern oral cultures, whatever the fuck that means. Time to get on JSTOR and do some serious plagiarism.

9:15 Dear God I want some JSTOR merch, imagine how sick I’ll look wandering Boomtown this year with this cool cap. Ha ha ha, so ironic, so cool. Wow.

My birthday is November 25 if anyone was wondering, but I do accept random presents and acts of kindness before then x

10:00 Literally bored of this essay already and I’ve been here for less than an hour.

10:18 Didn’t have breakfast and getting mad hungry, but I feel it’s too early to crack into my provisions.

My provisions include:

3x digestive biscuits

1x packet of maltesars

1x bottle of coke

1x apple

So if you’re reading this and you are also my mum (there’s a 100% chance that you are my mum if you’re reading this because pretty sure only my mum still indulges in my shite), at least you know I’m eating fruit and am staying really healthy at uni.

10:27 I go downstairs to “get a book”. Casually brush past my competitors to see what they are doing. One is on Facebook, PROVING once and for all that nobody in the library is actually working (discounting the 5 other people in the library who are actually doing useful things). Everything in the library, as in life, is an illusion. All is not as it seems. I feel buoyed

11:00 ONE OF MY FRIENDS HAS JUST COME INTO THE LIBRARY! Time for a bit of social interaction. Who said the library can’t be fun? I move all my stuff downstairs.

11:01 “Friend” has just said “please don’t sit with me, I want to work”. Great.

12:41 Time to crack into my provisions. I take a bite out of the apple, and some member of what appears to be the Medwards version of the Stazi actually shushes me. Do these people actually want me to starve?

(Spoiler alert: yes. Yes they do)

12:42 I’m not scared though because Grudgebridge has closed down (God Rest it’s Soul) so they can’t do anything to me.

14: 25 This exchange.


17:54 I’m reading about ballads in 15th century Lancashire. I’ll let that speak for itself.

18:12 You know you’ve reached peak boredom when you actually a) vote and b) read multiple articles on, the CUSU elections. (No offense Amatey Doku because I’m actually in love with you and once saw you in the Maypole and was actually starstruck. Cba to write a Crushbridge about this but there you go)

19:00 Eaten all my provisions ):

20:11 Went to the bar to get a snack from the vending machine, took me approx. 2 minutes, so this article should actually be titled, “23 hours and 58 minutes” in the Library. I’m still going to call it “24 hours in the Library” making it officially FAKE NEWS!!!!!!!! If you had any doubts before, The Tab is now officially part of the lying, biased, media. Sad!

20:14 Fresh off the press: The Tab has just been banned from White House press briefings. This is all my fault.

20:17 It’s 20:17. Ha ha ha. Like 2017? Do you get it? Do you?

21:00 Can’t believe I’ve got another 12 hours in this shithole left.

21:05 Musical interlude.

Still 21: 05, I just wanted to find a way to separate these points: Did you know I used to get Bon Jovi and Bon Iver confused? Sad, but true. It’s now 21:06.

21:08 Literally what is the point of you going to Cindies when you can just count on me and this article to bore you to death and force shite music onto you. I am basically the new Cindies. Other similarities include the fact that I’m occasionally sweaty (um..) and have a smoking area (my face. Is smoking. God, I’m too good. Why I’m not in Footlights I’ll never know)

22:23 There has to be A MILLION free tables in this library and some utter TOOL has come and sat down RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Stop co- opting my safe space, please leave immediately.

22:25 So weird, some 32’ tall man just randomly came up to me in the library and started yelling at me about how safe spaces don’t actually exist and I’m in the real world now and need to stop crying and being such a snowflake? Kept chucking water at me from his mug which read, “Liberal tears”. I’m confused I don’t know what to do? Stay safe everyone.

00:00 It’s the Witching Hour, but all my demons are in my head. (Deep) There’s a girl who’s been here nearly as long as me, but only one of us can win the Game we call Libe.


03:25 for those interested, in the time elapsed I’ve actually managed to do some work!!!!!! I am officially an intellectual.

Me, an intellectual

04: 40 I think it was the philosopher Adrian Mole who first discussed how difficult it is to be an intellectual when fundamentally you are not very clever.

04: 44 I can’t even do any late night Tinder swiping because I deleted Tinder as it takes up too much space in my phone. I could construct that into a metaphor about my wider love life, but frankly, I don’t have the energy and also who is even reading this anymore? I’m not even reading this. I’m writing it with my eyes closed. Giogns ghrseiogjn ckuf. See?

05: 38 isn’t it so weird how in 22 minutes all the rowers’ alarms will be going off whereas I’m setting my alarm to not go off for the next 22 years.

07:00 The time at which academic people apparently come into the library to start their day.


08:00 ONE HOUR LEFT even though there is officially no point in me being here anymore since I’ve finished my essay. Fleetingly, the idea of doing some reading for next week crosses my mind, but then I remember myself and laugh hysterically.

08: 31 Friend and fellow historian Rachael has just entered the library. Where have you been for the past 23 hours and 31 minutes when I needed you most?

09:00  The time has come. At this great hour, on this great day, I get up. I leave the library. The sun is shining, the birds are tweeting, the crickets are cricketing, probably, but they don’t live in the UK so  I don’t know what they’re doing. Are they endangered? Maybe they’re all dead, and we wouldn’t know. Leaving a moment of silence for the lost crickets of this world, I recover and hobble back to my room.

09:03 I forgot my bedder comes to my room at this time and I am too socially awkward to be in my room when she is, so I hobble back to the library. This wasn’t part of the plan, why am I returning? DEAR GOD, WHY ARE YOU STILL READING?

09: 12 Still in the library. Maybe I should do this for another 24 hours just to prove I probably can. If I wasn’t voluntarily doing this to myself I would definitely sue The Tab. But I am, I am, I am. Which makes that statement, sort of like this whole article, ultimately  pointless.