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Friday, 4 February 2011

Psychological Decline - Cambridge Tab

I am feeling unapologetically morbid right now. Rather than allow this feeling to fester until week 5 and synchronise to everyone else’s grim misery, I will – to use the only new word I have learnt since I matriculated – ‘expunge’ my bleakness now, and make this my ‘psychological decline’ column.

I like to think of myself as being pretty outgoing, but lately I’m finding it ever more difficult to convince myself of this. You see, outgoing presupposes going out. The melody and pizzazz of my speech only really translates into a character-forming trait if I speak among other people. And, at the moment I’m forcing myself to realise that no matter how much satisfaction I get from interacting with the mirror in my bathroom, it should be no substitute for, you know, genuine, human interaction.

I first realised I had a problem when I was late for lectures last week, because I was trying to teach myself ventriloquism. I don’t think I’m being too much of a hypochondriac when I question whether this was symptomatic of something. Or, maybe everyone in this little cobbled asylum we call home has got these disconcerting habits when forced into solitude? The only difference is that you are all wise enough not to broadcast your habits on an Internet tabloid. You, unlike me, will be able to find employment in the next decade.

I spent this evening watching Shameless on 4od. Shameless makes me jealous. Maybe this is some side effect of my current flux and confused sense of place within the class structure, but for a few minutes, every part of me wanted achingly to be living on the Chatsworth Estate. Sure, they might not have much money, or jobs, and they might be a little lacking in charm or morals or sanity, but I don’t think people in Cambridge have these things either. The difference is the Gallaghers and the Maguires are happy.

I look at the sour panoply of sullen faces among fellow finalists, and I certainly don’t feel like we’re drifting freely through a bastion of privilege. I sit in seminars alongside Masters students, and I see the uneasy way they carry themselves: the way they look to be detached from any semblance of care for their body, which has become a mere vehicle to transport their pulsating mind between lecture hall and library. I stare at these breathing cadavers as they note-take impulsively, and I think: ‘I’ll probably end up like that.’

Things could be different. My school friends are now getting paired up, getting engaged and eying up their first homes – they are settling into being functional grown-ups… in relationships. The only thing that wraps its arms around me at night and whispers in my ear is the sense of encroaching sorrow as the inexorable sands of time flitter down my pillow, making little gritty embankments in the fabric streams of my now stagnant tears. Some of these old school friends get woken in the night by the sound of their children calling them – presently, some high-heeled skank is stood outside my window in Homerton yelling drunken obscenities in RP at some unseen other who will inevitably look exactly the same, preventing me from entering the land of Nod.

So, this is my cheery week 3 update for you: my life is, at present, a cold-scarred wilderness, barren of smiles, in which I sit transcribing children’s voices for my dissertation, eat Go Ahead wafers and wait eagerly for some neighbour to make the mistake of knocking on my door, thus providing me with an opportunity to regale them, face to face, with all of the above.

If you are reading this, neighbours, tiptoe down to 215 – if I’m not at my desk, I will either be at the bathroom mirror fashioning a hoody as a puppet for Stage 2 of the ventriloquism education, or my head will be planted deep in the salty tear-grooves of my pillow.

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