Patrick Leigh-Pemberton: On stuff

Patrick does stuff for a change.

My life at University has taken a radical new turn in the last week. I have discovered a wonderful new thing that might just have changed my life, and helped me to adjust to the fact that I am going to have to leave this fairytale relatively soon. You see, in a fit of pre-emptive nostalgia, I decided to do something that I had never previously thought of. I engaged with stuff. You know, in that way that other people who seem always to be having a nice time say that they do? Well, for a week, that has been me.

I won’t pretend that this has been a completely self-driven change, as it wouldn’t have happened without the help of a lot of my friends – the sort of people who seem to know what’s going on, and go to the things that the rest of us only hear about afterwards when we bump into the first sort (you could just skip to the end of this sentence if you want, it doesn’t get any less confusing) talking to others of the first sort talking about how good the thing that we didn’t hear about was.  Deep breath. I think I explained that scenario rather succinctly.  You know the sort that I am talking about: they say things like “are you thinking of going to this [insert culturally/politically impressive event here] later?”, to which you respond with a non-committal shrug and something about an impending deadline. Well, I have decided to avoid the non-committal shrug, and move on to the wholehearted “well, I hadn’t thought about it, but now that you mention it, when/where/how expensive is’t?” And that is how it all starts.

I mean, some of the stuff that I have done over the last week isn’t that new- I went to minimood for instance, which isn’t new for me. (Yes, I know this isn’t the forum for boasting about how I like music and dancing – oh wait, no,  it’s a column in the Stand. Of course it is that forum). But I also went to a Jazz festival. And a play. And a fine food fair. And a Farmers’ Market. That is some stuff that I have done, and it doesn’t sound that impressive. But honestly, for me, this new doctrine of engagement has been fascinating. I have spoken to people who aren’t students, which is nice, and also exposed myself for the first time to the creative efforts of students. And at no point was I desperate to be doing something else, or to be somewhere else. Which, on a weekend in St. Andrews in your fourth year, if you don’t play golf, is a novel experience.

Turns out, all these things are advertised in both the real and virtual worlds, on posters and facebook groups of which I am already a member, but have just ignored. And, it turns out, that all of those things were really, really brilliant. So, that is my advice for this week. Do ‘stuff’, it can be immensely rewarding.