Tuesday, 23 January 2018


The best things about student life are the writing and the students - and the writing by the students - and the worst things are the rucksack and Southern Rail. 

Southern Rail.

Some months ago, on the first few occasions I marched down to the station carrying my heavy rucksack to catch the direct 09.03 to London Bridge, stopping at New Cross Gate, I thought it was a breeze. "It's a breeze," I told all my family and friends. "There's a direct train that gets me there in plenty of time and it's always empty and peaceful so I can work on the way." Since then I've caught the 09.03 direct to London Bridge about four times because it's nearly always cancelled. The other day five Epsom-bound trains were cancelled in a row and mine was delayed and delayed and delayed and when it finally arrived there was an announcement to say it wasn't going to stop at New Cross Gate at all. Last week I gave up and got the tube to London Bridge and a taxi from there, which didn't feel very studenty.

The Rucksack.

The rucksack is huge. Filled with books and a laptop it's incredibly heavy. By the time I carry it from home to station to catch the mostly mythical 09.03 my back is hurting, a lot, and there's roughly ten more hours of lugging it to go (interspersed with dropping it at my feet in a seminar or lecture). By the way, the rucksack here doesn't represent anything, it's not a metaphor or a symbol. That's been done, to death. If one more writer or film-maker should try using abandoning luggage as a metaphor for emotional growth and renewal they should be immediately struck off, not that a writer or film-maker can be struck off (unless it's Woody Allen) because it's not a proper job, but you know what I mean.

On Wednesday, when I'm given additional items to put in my rucksack - twelve heavy sets of creative writing - I decide to hold them in my arms in a folder for the rest of the day rather than add them to my already over-loaded rucksack. This might be inconvenient, I think, but it might also make me look more studenty, like Sandy out of Grease, perhaps, except hideously deformed by age. 

The rest of the day passes in this pleasantly deluded manner, carrying a rucksack and folder, pretending I look like Sandy out of Grease. I have a seminar, eat lunch, work in the library, attend an awards ceremony then go to the pub with new student friends. We take part in the pub quiz (again) which we win (again). At the end of the evening we contemplate our various routes home. "I could stand on a cold and windy platform at New Cross Gate waiting for a mostly mythical train," I say. "Or I could just get an Uber."

"I live in East Dulwich," says one of my new student friends. "Why don't we share an Uber?" So we do.

Next morning, when I rise, I go looking for the folder I was carrying, Sandy-like, all the day before and can't find it. I must have put it down somewhere in the university or the pub. I WhatsApp my new student friends. "I lost my folder with all the work in it!" Not long after there's a reply from the friend I shared the Uber with, emailing me copies of nearly everything I lost.

Love E x


P.S. He also suggested I check lost property, which I did, and it was there.

No comments:

Post a Comment