Like any good pensioner, I despair of the young. As I write, it’s the end of October and the latest entrants to this accelerated ageing process have settled in ? even if they haven’t blended in. First years are an extremely easy creature to spot.
On campus, they’re the ones who haven’t perfected the dead-eyed, middle-distance stare required to get through hoards of pamphleteers without being accosted. Once one pamphleteer gets a leaflet in their hands, the others will swoop down on them, like pigeons attacking a tourist holding out breadcrumbs.
On nights out, they’re generally the ones in face paint, screaming chants about the halls in which they live, said chanting often being amplified with the aid of a traffic cone. They’re even easier to recognise inside a bar. A fresher can generally be spotted screaming “WHAT’S CHEAP?” at the bar staff, probably dressed as a pirate.
These descriptions might sound a bit disdainful. Good. They are meant to be. Freshers are extremely annoying. They make too much noise and have a habit of throwing up in public. Maybe it’s just my age, but I was sure that things were better in my day. I can’t have been that annoying at 19, can I? Then I have a flashback.
I was at my current job in a bar, and a first year on a bar crawl was bawling “WHAT CAN I GET FOR A POUND?” at me. I suddenly recalled a younger me ? with more hair on my head, and less on my face ? in a bar. I’m on a bar crawl, covered in felt-tip pen and demanding something, anything, that’s cheap. I realise that I was once one of them.
What fun being a fresher was: you go out all the time as there’s no actual work to do. The Student Loans Company gives you a lot of money. Your nice bank gives you some more in a large overdraft (and it would be a shame not to use it, wouldn’t it?). Life is good.
Then you become a student pensioner.You don’t want to go out anymore because everywhere is full of freshers. And even if venues weren’t packed with vomiting 18-year-olds, you no longer have the time to go out anyway. The letters from the loans company contain repeated reference to the word “interest”. And, to top it off, your bank points out that their “free” overdraft isn’t as “free” as you thought.
Youth is wasted on the young? Well, first year is wasted on freshers. I’m an archetypal student pensioner. I spend nearly all my day grumbling about first years. I spend the rest wishing I was one still.
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