The blog post I shouldn’t write
I intend this to be an analysis of my 2011, at least the bits I can remember. We’ll see how it goes.
Despite YKTS being live for well over six months now, this is only my second post for the ‘Myscore’ section. I think the main reason for the dearth of updates lies not in a lack of desire, but rather a fear about what I might find myself writing. You see, anyone who knows me can testify that on certain occasions (i.e. 3 hours in the pub) I become incredibly honest and open up. All the thoughts I choose not to disclose, for one reason or another, seem to make their way out. The difference is, on previous occasions I have not had the luxury of a blog as a canvas to let loose. Given this, I can guarantee that something I write here will be of regret and leave me thinking: ‘Christ, didn’t you learn anything from that awkward first year at University’. Heck, even the cat is looking at me with a mixture of disdain and pity.
I think I should start from where I am now and work backwards (see, you’ll make a Tory out of me someday). It is past 1 am on the 13th of January 2012. I currently lack a full-time job, yet I am sure one of my work experience placements discount me from being a statistic in the 20 year high of graduate unemployed. For instance, even if I lack financial income, I am currently writing music reviews for altsounds.com, working for the local paper and have work experience lined up with The Metro. I mean, I graduated from the money making machine that is Warwick University Ltd, so I’m probably defined as taking an ‘enforced hiatus’ or something. The problem is, my MA applications are due by the end of February and I cannot help but worry that, even after all my effort and relative achievement, I simply will not make the grade. My dad has always followed the maxim ‘there’s always going to be someone better’ and has frequently imparted it upon me with purely positive intentions. Whilst this is true, it does not help those like myself who spend most of the time chasing the leading pack rather than the front-runner. However, I’ll still work as hard as I can to get accepted – giving up really isn’t in my nature.
Accepting your own best is one of the most valuable lessons I learnt whilst at University. In my first year, the bravado of many fresh from gaining straight A’s at A level proved unsettling. Personally, I found the academic jump challenging at first and made the novice mistake of admitting as much to others. Consequently, it became demoralising hearing: ‘I got a first in my essay, what did you get?’, ‘This is so easy, HA HA!’ or some smarmy git say ‘I should be at Cambridge/Oxford’. Eventually, I realised these people were masters in what I believe is called ‘transference’. Indeed most people are capable of achieving firsts, but the few who follow through on this promise work damn hard; saving energy in between times by keeping their mouths shut about their brilliance. Oh, and if you are wondering, aforementioned ‘smarmy git’ got the same as me: a 2:1. Needless to say, our reactions were palpably different come graduation! I guess what I am trying to say is, the art is where you finish, not where you begin; do not judge yourself against others because ultimately you have no idea where they will end up. This is bloody impossible advice to follow, mind.
The funny thing is, now I have left University and moved back home, the sense of achievement/relief has morphed into an aching realisation that ‘it’ is all over. ‘It’ being incredibly difficult to define (now I understand what Mr Casablancas was musing over), nevertheless I am pretty sure of what ‘it’ isn’t. I am certain, for instance, it was not the sleepless 48 hour marathon I underwent to finish my dissertation, which incidentally I handed in whilst wearing pyjamas. Nor can it be the repulsively underhand characters whom I naively put my faith in as an 18 year old – trust me, those mental wreck, borderline sociopathic types still exist at University – just in a more intelligent, manipulative form. I honestly believe they should introduce some kind of sanity test alongside the UCAS personal statement. I’ll put it down to bad luck.
Then again, who am I to be talking about sanity?! My best efforts at describing the intangible ‘it’ involve me letting go, embracing the freedom and possibility afforded by complete personal autonomy. Going to the extreme because I could: partying for a solid week, chance meetings evolving into great friendships; all propelled by a spontaneity borne from the burning desire to make up for lost time. At this point I feel I need to thank all the great people who helped me live independently, becoming cherished friends in the process. You know who you are and all I can say is ‘iche liebe dich’. Indeed, I could recount thousands of vivid/slightly hazy memories that were only made possible by the student lifestyle, but the key ingredient in all these, both good and bad, were the people involved. Fortunately, the good people far outweighed the worthless by the end of my time at Warwick.
What is ‘it’ then? In the most general terms, I think I can define it as the immersion into a world outside your safety zone. An experience that is scary and unique, yet utterly life affirming. As a result of my experiences at University, I am more self assured than ever before. The problem is, when I came home the contrast between those who had gone through this process and those who hadn’t became glaringly apparent. At some points this temporary reversal back to my past life becomes suffocating, initially, I intended to travel for part of the year to escape this feeling but without funds it is obviously an impossibility, especially since the intern job market sees payment as an alien concept. Time for a pretentious, hipster song from an overhyped band methinks.
So, without delving into the ‘good summers’ I enjoyed whilst studying as an undergrad (it’s tempting but I know I really will end up regretting it), I should say something about my interesting experiences in the world of work. Last October I interned at the WAGGGS for one month, by that I mean the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, not Posh Spice. It was a real eye opener and I never realised how influential or wide-reaching their work is. However, the most eventful aspect of my time there undoubtedly involved my experiencescommuting on public transport as a wheelchair user, not that this should really be a surprise given my last MyScore post! You see, due to Hampstead Heath station not being accessible, my daily commute morphed into a four hour marathon involving 2 taxis and 4 station changes.
Despite the above, I did generally manage to get on the trains fine by catching the guard at the opportune moment…barring a few minor mishaps, such as the train guard who shouted ‘Dave I’m doing a wheelchair’ into his radio as I left the train. In some ways I found it comforting, I must have lost so much weight that he couldn’t see me. Even more unexpected was TFL’s willingness to subsidise the taxi journeys, an offer which led me to meet a number of London’s most eccentric taxi drivers. Two particular individuals spring to mind: the first being a tremendously overweight driver, whom I felt certain was destined to have a heart attack every time he tried to get the ramp out. Over time he mentioned his girlfriend, Jane, and one particular weekend she had invited the extended family over for a party. Exciting times I suggested, meeting the extended family is a big step! Turns out ‘Jane’ was Vietnamese, half the driver’s age and well, you get the picture: ‘they eat everything, don’t speak the language, so I just wait in the bedroom’. The situation was made even more bizarre when one morning we took a detour so the driver could collect £1000 ‘a lady’ (his words) owed him. Upon arriving at the house, a dubious Vietnamese man appeared, minus the money, and let’s just say an intense argument ensued. God knows, I’m probably going to end up an unwitting extra in a Panorama trafficking documentary. Jane’s family and friends didn’t seem to be doing too badly though, the majority working as cleaners for the filthy rich around the area. Jane’s best friend apparently even looked after Lampard’s kids at one point – he gave her £5,000 as a parting tip. The other driver I specifically remember was of West Indian descent, he spent our journeys blasting out Reggae and shouting comments about women on the street: ‘would you look at that fine piece of ass’ or turning to me saying ‘aren’t you lucky! Working with women all day long’. Forthcoming doesn’t even begin to describe the man. I also never quite understood why he had multiple mobile phones, or indeed girls waiting with him in the back of the taxi, who were quickly ushered out as I arrived. He’ll no doubt end up in the same Panorama investigation.
Generally, travelling on public transport is a struggle. Rather than book 24 hours in advance for the ramp as TFL policy demands, I now simply ask the guard – I mean come on, I don’t think any 21 year old has ever planned travel arrangements 24 hours in advance, house parties don’t have regimented start/finish times. Aside from the fact I refuse to embellish the bullshit idea that on demand public transport for wheelchair users is some kind of unreasonable impossibility, this approach is actually more effective. I say this having lost count of the number of times the painstakingly booked ‘passenger service’ has failed to materialise, thereby leaving me stranded. The issue of transport accessibility gets even worse concerning aeroplanes. I recently took a story to the local paper about the injustice of having to pay double the fare because of my disability. Worryingly, the headline referred to me as ‘TEDDINGTON MAN’, there go the last delusions of youth!
Wow, it’s late, I feel it’s best I end things here as I need to go to bed. If I don’t I will end up writing about matters of love, friendship and desperation. I’m not stupid enough to go there, even in my present state….you’re lucky, thanks to 2011, I’m not such a romantic anymore. Honest.
NOTICE: I am only 21, opinions subject to change.