Sunday, November 16, 2003

Land of the midnight ironing board
(You might be in Cambridge if … )

… you come home at one in the morning, a little tired an emotional, to find a pure mathematician in the kitchen constructing equations to describe the rising coils of his own cigarette smoke, and a lawyer ironing shirts and knitted tops in the lounge room – especially if you then sit down and spend an hour discussing comparative constitutional law and the importance of institutional practice over written law.

… a “hall” is no longer a place, but a meal where you wear an academic robe.

… half the reason you can’t remember a fellow international student’s name is because you can’t actually pronounce it.

… if you are more likely to see your flatmates in the library or Middle Combination Room than the kitchen.

… you develop a sudden knack for talking your way past college-party doormen on the basis that the friend who “was going to sign me in, but isn’t answering her phone” is dancing right behind them. Honest.

… a “glorious day” means an ice-like wind capable of piercing granite, but perfectly blue skies and daylight until at least half-past-four.

… you could not, on the basis of personal experience, recommend more than one restaurant to a visitor - but could enthusiastically recommend over a dozen pubs.

… you begin to believe urban myths that as only “fellows” can walk over the college lawn, some colleges have made the local ducks honorary academic staff.

… your body-clock prefers that you are asleep by eleven and up by seven, but increasingly you are coming in around two and waking up after ten.

… if the only things in your life that seem cheap are cycling everywhere, college food and beer in pint glasses.

... colleges begin to seem egalitarian becuase they let students walk over the grass.

… if you are capable of assimilating and holding institutional grudges based on largesse distributed to other colleges at the expense of yours in the reign of Henry VIII.

… you skip a lecture on the law of armed conflict to hear Michael Moore speak about the Iraq war at the Union.

... you are paralysed with indecision at the prospect of walking over a college lawn because you're not sure what the local rule is.

… you have not opened a text-book recently, but by Christmas will have appeared in a play and participated in three internationally-attended intervarsity debating tournaments before Christmas – with a few (hypothetical, bottom-of-pint-glass theoretical) options on writing for the student paper or some sketch comedy about international law in the new year.

… you suspect that maybe the PhD students have the right idea, in at least that no-one expects them to have achieved anything much in their first year.

… you begin to think that Byron really was on to something when he hit on the plan of keeping a bear in his rooms with the intention of training it to sit his exams.

No comments: