I have decided to try my very hardest to be a bastard.

22 Sep

Originally posted at Three Blog Night.

On Friday I spent £60 that I didn’t have because I am pathetic and live in constant fear of disappointing people.

I got an email a while ago from my university asking for volunteers to help out with a departmental open day, which I ignored because Oxford is far away and I suffer from chronic apathy. But then I got another email a week before the open day saying that they’d only managed to get half the number of people that they needed, so I decided that, despite the fact that it’d cost me £60 to get there, I’d step in and be a hero like some second-rate, slightly paler version of Enrique Iglesias. So at 6am on Friday I left for Oxford, and spent most of the 3 hour commute considering how my life could be improved exponentially if I were to become a terrible person.

In my 3 months away from Oxford, I’d almost forgotten about the abject hideousness of the zoology building. The “dreaming spires” thing is a myth. MY bit of Oxford looks like a poorly designed car park. They keep it hidden – it’s about a 10 minute walk from the proper Oxfordy bit of Oxford, and to get there you have to pass a group of militant animal rights activists holding placards and insisting that you, personally, take it upon yourself to inject sulphuric acid into the eyes of adorable puppies. But the department was dressed up on Friday with big green banners, as though they compensated for its architectural shortcomings and seeing the words “BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD” in massive letters was going to make a 17-year-old more likely to study in this one particular city for three years.

What might make a 17-year-old more likely to study in this one particular city for three years, however, would be the provision of free refreshments. And boy, did we have free refreshments. Now, if I’d been in charge of organising these, I’d have chucked a kettle, some tea bags and a few packets of digestives on a table. Maybe Maryland cookies if I really wanted to push the boat out. But oh no. Not Oxford. Oxford had shortbreads that were wrapped individually and delicately arranged in a basket, and I swear, they had varieties of tea there that weren’t even brown. They were all Twinings like what that Stephen Fry has, and some of them said they were fruit flavoured. What are these people?

After I’d finished taking ungrateful, cheap shots at my university’s generous offering of tea and biscuits, my day was spent trying to be friendly and helpful towards infuriatingly young, bright and enthusiastic 17-year-olds. Most were lovely, which I hated them for because I can’t write anything spiteful about lovely people. The bastards. Particularly, I met one girl who was clearly very smart but was afraid that she wouldn’t fit in because she “didn’t come from a grammar or private school or anything like that.” I sympathised with her, hugely, because I had the same concerns 2 years ago. One of the reasons that I volunteered to help on the open day was because I really struggled with my decision to come to Oxford, but I genuinely feel that going through with my application was one of the best decisions that I’ve made, and if I could play even a tiny role in helping someone else make their decision, then I wanted to. And I did. I talked with her over some of that fruity shit parading as tea and she seemed reassured that beating poor people isn’t really a mandatory activity here. It’s just heavily encouraged.

There was the odd cock there, though. Right at the end of the day I overheard one girl ask the admissions tutor whether she’d have any chance of getting in because she’d already started a course at Oxford Brookes, but had found herself “starved of any opportunity to even attempt to engage in vaguely intelligent conversation with [her] peers.” To which I thought, “yes, you’re the sort of pompous knob-end that would fit in perfectly here. HAVE ONE OF OUR INDIVIDUALLY WRAPPED BISCUITS! They taste of pretension and environmental destruction.”

Now, you might read this and say, “wait a minute, Heather. Only 1 paragraph before this one you spoke of a young woman who struggled with the idea that she might not be an “Oxford type”, and of the fact that you yourself had this same struggle 2 years ago. Surely if, as you believe, the Oxford stereotype is largely unfounded, your perpetuating it for the sake of a cheap laugh is not only contradictory, but singularly unhelpful in the effort to convince other people like yourself and that young woman to apply?”

To which I might respond, “yes, you could indeed argue that. However, here is a video of a cat eating a watermelon!

After I’d done with being a frickin’ hero, I met up with two friends who were already back in Oxford because they are intellectually masochistic, and we bumped into one of the kids that I’d seen at the open day. I smiled and said hi. She didn’t. I don’t get that. I just don’t. Why are people so unfriendly? I know that most of the people that I meet are pricks but I’m still nice to them. I’m not a prick and they’re awful to me. The pricks.

Maybe if I’m more of a prick, people will be less prick-like towards me.

From tomorrow, I am going to be a prick. A 20-year-old prick.

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