I think that there is a sort of expectation that everyone has some misdeeds or the like from their past. Stories of amusement, foolhardiness and sometimes outright stupidity. I have some of these types of stories, I guess its a way of acknowledging how far we have come when we look back. Only my whole life has been peppered with these tales, so for me, they act as punctuation, rather than backstory. Sometimes I speak to people who don’t seem to have any of these stories. Part of me wonders why they never pushed boundaries and remained so level-headed throughout, and part of me admires that. They clearly never needed to see where their limits were, they already knew. However, it is much less exciting in terms of storytelling!
After writing my letter to Vivienne, I thought a lot about my time spent in education. Many memories immediately came to mind, most of which involved alcohol. I remember when I was Greenwich University, between the Friday morning lecture and seminar, me and a friend could get to the nearest pub (The Bird’s Nest – I can’t remember the name of the friend but the pub name sings out in my mind!), consume one drink, two games of pool and three songs on the jukebox before having to head back. I was kinda decent at pool back then, sadly not so much now. That was also when everyone could still smoke in pubs (and pretty much everywhere else) and most people seemed to take full advantage of this, myself included. I remember a magical evening spent on a field trip in the New Forrest where another friend pointed out the names of the constellations in the sky (whilst walking home from the pub, I had discovered something known only as ‘White Lightning’, I was eighteen, and this is my only excuse), opening up a literal whole new world and on yet another field trip to a marine research center on the island of Millport (everyone should utterly go there.. I cycled around the whole island in under an hour) I paddled in the sea (post-pub once more) opposite some sort of nuclear plant. This was also the same trip where my friend’s boyfriend danced around in my nightie. Some memories may never leave me.
My mid-twenties university experience had much fewer field trips. In fact, it contained no residential trips whatsoever. Which is disappointing, on so many levels. If anyone ever reading this is in a position to write a university course, put in some field trips, they always make for epic memories. But this time around I did live in student accommodation, which did make for its own level of excitement. I have watched people surf staircases using their duvets as boards, been offered a bite of someone’s banana (utterly no euphemism) as they wandered into my room when I was mid-essay writing, listened to radio shows with a friend into the small hours and another friend wandering into my room in the morning to find him curled up on the end of my bed like a puppy (perhaps I should have locked my door more often). And Vivienne coming home from a night out to find the remainder of her housemates far more inebriated than she was, and mostly lying under the table in the kitchen.
I could go on, and likely will at some point; these stories never cease to make me smile. The memories made under intense situations seem more poignant and I regret none of them. Whilst in conversation recently it occurred to me how as a parent and tutor, I give advice to those in my care, but there is a tendency to whitewash where it has come from. And perhaps this is an oversight, pretending to be perfect serves no one. And I retract my first statement, I think that we all have mad stories.
Map Point. Where am I pretending?