I was dumped in a strange city

Back in September 1988, when yours truly arrived at St Martin’s College for what turned out to be a three-year holiday with my friends, masquerading as an English literature degree, I travelled light.

A suitcase, a handful of books, a tape-to-tape player and a few TDK D90s filled with whatever was in the Top 40 at the time - and some cooler tunes recorded from Annie Nightingale’s request show after the chart show finished.

That was about it. It wasn’t a big deal. My dad’s mate and his daughter dropped me off (we didn’t have a car) and after about five minutes, turned on their heels and left me to it.

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Dear reader, when the door of my room in Gressingham Hall slammed behind them like in Ronnie Barker’s cell in Porridge, I was truly alone and was absolutely terrified.

But then, as it turned out, so was everybody else.

Even those who had cultivated brand new personas especially for uni, the ones you meet in the first three weeks and spend the next three years trying to avoid.

Anyway, the point is that most freshers who are off to university in a week or two will turn up at their halls of residence with more equipment than we had in our house two years after we bought it.

And I include daughter #1 in that.

Last week our eldest and the boss did the obligatory sweep of IKEA, where they met every other fresher and their parents (let’s be honest here, it was the mums) doing the exact same thing.

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Laptop, soft furnishings, kitchen gear including a pizza tray, microwave, kettle... basically a pretty comprehensive wedding list.

Earlier this week, daughter #1’s university emailed her a 22-page accommodation agreement, room number and even a moving-in date and time - which is a darn sight more formal than it was back in the day, and about five times the price, and, for that, St Martin’s fed us (absolute slop fit for pigs) three times a day.

That’s not all that’s changed. These days universities tell their freshers who they’re sharing a corridor and kitchen with - and after a quick scan down the list, daughter #1 said they all sound “normal”.

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