This week, ELINOR LIPMAN confesses that she’s actually pretty homesick
Particularly observant readers may have noticed I consistently devote an unseemly amount of column space to my dad, Frank.
Whilst this has given him a certain BNOC-ish status amongst his friends, the question of how relevant his antics were to the observations of a fresher columnist is something that has perplexed many, including myself. It wasn’t until today I realised why this is the case.
It’s been a weird few weeks – but number five is really when the shit hit the fan. There are some things about this mad, mad place that I don’t think I’ll ever get over. These inconsistencies combined with the stress of this nervously anticipated week required moments of severe endurance.
Take last Wednesday night for example. My column was done and I decided to go out and get totally Corpus Clocked. But in the aftermath of a brutal night at Cindies, I was left truly appalled.
Imagine yourself a hungry, lone fresher in need of replenishment after a night spent having happily inebriated couples sweatily grind upon you. The exhaustion is such that you don’t think you can make the long queue of the Van of Life or Gardies. Out of nowhere, the beaming glow of the Subway sign calls to you from your other spiritual homeland. It reminds you of all those journey’s home on the 214 bus. It reminds you of all those times you tried to say that one sentence your Russian best friend taught you like General Gogol, in attempts to scare the muggers off on your journey home.
To cut short the reminiscing, it reminds you of the nights out that inevitably ended with the glorious Subway opposite Camden Tube which stayed open till 5.
So when I saw that glow, you have to understand it wasn’t just a physical belly rumbling feeling that stirred within me but it inflamed my spiritual connection to a life before this madhouse, comforting me in my time of week-5 blues. The saliva in my mouth was almost as eagerly anticipating my sub as my beating heart. So, imagine my disappointment when the guy told me AFTER I HAD ORDERED IT that they don’t heat their subs after 10pm.
Having to munch on that cold sub was a low point. But it was just the tip of the ice berg in terms of the completely nonsensical stuff which goes on here that nobody can really explain.
Why is there a fake man above the Cornish Pasty Shop? Is this done deliberately to make drunk freshers look stupid when they attempt to make conversation? Why does no one talk about the fact that the entrance to Life is in Waterstones? Who is Greg Hill and why is he all over the Tab comments section? Why are there two bars, one named Ta Bouche and the other Baroosh opposite each other? Is it some kind of sick joke?
This brings me back to my original point. Once, when I was thirteen, in a heady moment of rebellion, I came home at half past ten instead of nine. Frank, his face darkening with parental rage, decided that the best course of action would be to throw some salmon at me.
It was neither live salmon nor smoked salmon, but instead an actual piece of oven cooked salmon that he had been eating. Yet, in his moment of relief that I wasn’t dead, it was instead missing my face and flopped oleaginously onto my left shoulder. Ever since then a part of me cherished the idea that when I eventually left home I would have unfettered amounts of freedom to come and go as much as I want without getting fish thrown at me.
In the narcissistic crevices of the teenage mind I didn’t really consider the benefits of living at home. I forgot that you will not always have people to come up the stairs to bring you toilet paper when the loo roll has run out. I forgot that if you sleep through an alarm, your mum won’t be there to make sure you don’t sleep past your essay deadline. I forgot that even though having a little sister who wakes you up by farting on your face can be annoying, it has its benefits when she always tries to sneak you home an extra piece of cake in her party bag.
In this cantab eat cantab world I was surprised to realise I actually miss my batshit crazy family. And I think that’s why I’ve subconsciously been inserting Frank into my articles as a coping mechanism.
Realising this was actually a very healthy thing for me. After opening up about these feelings to a friend, he reminded me that since I’m doing a humanities degree, it’s incredibly likely that I’ll be living with my family for another eighteen years after i’m done here anyways.
Cambridge is therefore only a hiatus from the bouillabaissian warfare of home.
(P.S. come heckle me in real life and come see the freshers play You Can’t Take It With You! there are also some genuinely incredibly funny people in it, its on at 7.45 at the ADC til Saturday)