Student Memories: George Pringle
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger", George Pringle on why your student years aren't always the best years of your life.
My cousin Daniel drove me up to Oxford Brookes University towards the end of September in 2004. I must say, I became a little apprehensive upon arriving in the purpose-built car park of the purpose-built halls which were all sandy brick and expressionless in their own mundane way. Even the name of the halls of residence was boring. "Clive Booth"... When we got out the car, we saw a dusty old Land Rover, the rear view window of which was inscribed "Rick likes Felching". "It's something you'd really have to love, isn't it?" I remember Daniel saying. That Land Rover became pretty symbolic of Brookes, unfortunately.
After about a week, I came to realise that if you had a "bathroom pod" in your room (consequence of slightly more expensive halls accomodation) then you never made any friends because you never had a reason to leave your room, particularly if, like myself, you felt that interaction with "Harry from Hertfordshire" or a "Conservative Party Pub Crawl" could be catalyst for self harm. My halls were full of bewildered, misplaced foreigners whose eyes emitted possibly more woe and terror than mine. And safe in their rooms eating Fed Ex noodles or on Skype, they built wombs away from the grey weather and enforced student interaction, initiations, societies. Quite rightly, I thought.
I didn't make any friends at all in my first year. It was... miserable. I watched a lot of TV and drew in my room. Occasionally I was persuaded to go to the student bar across the road from our little "community" which smelled of off lager, vomit and Subway sandwiches that boys in polo shirts would scoff greedily before their bored-looking female friends who also wore rugby shirts and looked pinched and dull, their athletic figures just beginning to submit to the squealch of cider and cheesy chips. The stereo blasted Rage Against The Machine and requiems for other suburban teenage dreams that these people were staggering away from on their big mundane adventure. The School of Life... and shooters and hooters and rugby. I secretly wished they would all die on a mass bungee jumping expedition in some antipodean country.
Oxford was beautiful and silent and sleepy and austere. I used to go into Jericho and look at all the clever kids who used to call us "The Early Learning Centre" or so I had heard. They looked so intelligent and dressed so badly. I was so very envious.
It wasn't all bad in the end though. I can't say that University was a life changing experience but it definitely taught me what I don't want from life and the kind of people I never want to see again and I think that's an important educational experience: figuring out what you don't like. I was so bored and friendless I did quite well in the end. I emerged with a handful of friends, a top degree and my face in the papers. I think I was lucky going to boarding school as a child. I think it really put hairs on my chest. I scorned the weeping nineteen year olds who cried as their mothers drove off into the sunset. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is a bit of a mantra of mine. That is definitely true of my university experience. University is a bit like school. It's dangerous to have too good a time and woe betide you if you look back on them as the best years of your life. Because I can categorically tell you that they are not. And hurrah for that!
George Pringle's debut album Salon des Refusés is released on "Deth to Fals Metal Records" digitally via Tunecore and 7 Digital from 7th September 2009.http://www.myspace.com/georgepringle