I spent the longest day of the year in Alexandra Square and it was a vibe
The ducks didn’t appreciate me invading their space
Alicia Keys once said: “Street lights, big dreams, all lookin’ pretty // No place in the world that could compare.” Granted, she was talking about New York City, but I think you can also apply the lyrics to Alexandra Square.
Alex Square is arguably the central hub of campus, with anything and everything happening there. So, when it came to the longest day of 2021, I thought: What better way to spend my 17 hours of daylight than in Alex Square?
Plan for the big day
Preparing for the big day didn’t take much. I established a couple of rules…
Rule one: No leaving Alex Square (except for Rule four).
Rule two: Only go to outlets that you can get in and out of from Alex Square (e.g. Greggs and Juicafe).
Rule three: I can use facilities in University House.
Rule four: I can leave once (there and back — straight trip) for my Covid vaccination. Two days before the summer solstice, I received a text that threw a wrench into my plan, which necessitated the addition of this extra rule.
Once I’d established the rules, all I had to do was wait for the big day!
Morning has broken
The second my barrage of alarms woke me up at four on Monday morning, I wanted to give up on the idea completely. In typical student accommodation fashion, the kitchens in Bowland Tower had started making some ungodly noise that can only be described as screaming in the earliest hours of the morning – keeping us all up.
Nevertheless, I pressed on. I chucked two books, my laptop, and a change of cooler clothes into my bag, and headed into Alex Square, just in time for the first minute of daylight.
The first hour or so was completely desolate, with only a few people about. They were all heading to the library or the underpass, and every single one of them stared at me (I wonder why?).
As I got cracking on some Tab work, my only company was in the form of a group of seagulls, who were viciously attacking the contents of a bin.
It was also cold. So cold. In fact, I had to use my laptop as a sort of radiator as I finished watching a five-hour video analysing iCarly. You might be thinking: what can someone possibly say about iCarly for five hours? Well… mind your own business.
By seven, the cold had started to sink into my very being and I was starting to stop functioning. Naturally, I was in Greggs the second it opened, buying a pasty and a hot chocolate in the hopes that it would eke a bit of warmth back into my bones. As I sat and ate it, I heard the world wake up — or more specifically, I heard a block of flats wake up as their fire alarm blinked on and off for 10 minutes.
Alex Square was still relatively quiet, with only a couple of people emerging from the underpass to shuffle into the library. I headed back to the steps to read.
That’s when it started to rain.
I basically had to run for cover in the tents and sit shivering, trying my best to still look cool and mysterious as I froze to death. Luckily, my flatmates arrived with the all-important coat and scarf I hadn’t thought to bring, as well as another hot chocolate.
I spent the rest of the morning watching people as they complained about the miserable weather, and chatting with various mates who’d made the treacherous journey into the middle of campus to stave off my boredom.
At lunch time I had to temporarily leave Alexandra Square. This was technically cheating, but I’m counting it as an extenuating circumstance… I needed my vaccine. I raced down to Health Innovation One and got my first jab. The vaccinator cheerfully commented that it was cold that day… that hurt more than the vaccine.
When I returned to Alex Square, it felt as if the gazebos and steps and LED screens were all taunting me. I stared in despair at my phone as it reminded me that I still had eight and a half hours left.
I decided to distract myself with food — and was greeted by some ducklings, which lessened the agony a little.
At around three, a group of people started to blast music down one end of the Square which, I’m going to be honest, wasn’t a vibe. I fell down a TikTok rabbit hole and managed to waste a bit of time before being visited by more friends (and snacks!!).
About the most exciting thing that happened during the afternoon was getting to watch a group of lads chuck a football into a tree in order to get another one out. I got more invested in this than is socially acceptable.
The final countdown
To be perfectly honest, even though I’d sort of lost the feeling in my limbs and missing the stable internet connection of my room, the final hours of daylight were whiled away with my friends, who came to laugh at me and bring the assortment of food, chargers, and boba tea that kept me going.
By the time there were only 10 minutes left to go, I was really starting to lose my sanity. Conversations were going nowhere, and the clock seemed to slow to a crawl. I did what anyone else would do in the final moments of daylight, and played Man or Muppet from the 2011 hit film, The Muppets.
And as the sun finally slipped below the horizon somewhere behind the bricks of Alexandra Square, my friends (for some reason) clapped. I know I started the article with an Alicia Keys quote, but I think The Beatles summed it up better than anyone: “You do get by with a little help from your friends.”