Wednesday, 16 March 2011
Leaving Cambridge - Cambridge Tab
Published by Cambridge Tab - 13th March 2011
I guess this is goodbye. Like many of you reading this, I will be hanging up my gown for good after we graduate this summer. Maybe I’ll only ever get it out of the loft as part of some novelty act to entertain grandchildren, or maybe I’ll sometimes return to it, look at the wine stains, and smile in blissful retrospection.
I realise it is only early March, so you might think these words are premature. But, for many of us, the end of this week will be our social death. We will return to our hometowns, and after a few days of liberal access to the food bought by our parents, shit will start to get heavy. Exams. Careers. Training Contracts. Grad schemes. We will realise that exam term requires nothing less than an emotional and intellectual burnout if we are to remedy the unrestrained laxity of the previous eight terms.
I don’t want to say farewell to Cambridge in the midst of exam term anxieties, and I don’t want my lasting image of the university to be the menacing empty frames attached to Senate House, awaiting their chance to present our fates to us. So, I’m going to start my goodbyes now.
I’m going to miss weaving through Chinese tourists on King’s Parade, as each of them makes his own version of the images of the chapel identical to those on Google Images. I’m going to miss hearing a chorus of church bells to remind me that the lecture I should be attending at Sidgwick site has begun. I’m going to miss a city where I am so settled that I recognise café staff when they are out of their uniforms. I’m going to miss feeling safe enough to walk home at any hour of the night.
I’ll miss the libraries, where I’ve enjoyed plunging into the depths of human knowledge maybe twice a term. I’ll miss the idiosyncrasies of the lecturers, who have morphed from the distant celebrities of first year into the three-dimensional stop-and-chat partners of finals. I’m sure I’ll even pine for Homerton.
On a more personal note, I’ll miss Cambridge SCA, the local charity I’ve been involved with since first year. It has insulated me from the worst excesses of the bubble. I’ll miss the two kids I visit each weekend on Big Siblings, whose disregard for genteel social norms rivals my own, thus making them perfect companions. I’ll miss the organised chaos of the Bounce project, which I’ve done since first year, in which we put on a sports session for kids aged five to 15 in the apt location of the Pro-Am Fighting Centre.
Next year, if I want to talk about something, or share a problem, or rave about an idea, I might have to arrange to meet with somebody, rather than just knock on their door since they live 10 metres from me. This thought is unsettling to say the least.
And, I suppose a final farewell ought to be to you, The Tab. I shan’t lie, I thought you were all going to be intolerable twats – the other writers, the editors and especially you: the readers. I thought I was going to have to defend myself, as you systematically ripped the shit out of me every week, and denigrated my autistic non-appreciation of your drinking culture.
But, the overwhelming majority of you are absolutely not twats (by which I mean you sometimes validate me). Even those who are twats are okay, because I see you as my twats. My own loveable Tab-twats. It has been a pleasure.
To Cambridge as a city and a University, to the people, and to the redtop I unexpectedly grew to love, this is a fond farewell.