I must have passed enough of my A Levels with acceptable grades as today I was off to Liverpool (my first choice) to start at University.
My Mum drove me into town to catch the train. As usual, the Shrewsbury traffic was terrible, and as was also usual I fretted and worried that I was going to miss the train. But! No fear! I made it just in time and after an hour or so I was changing trains at Crewe and another hour later I emerged into the vast concourse that was (and still is) Liverpool Lime Street.
The University’s whole operation was so very slick and obviously designed to be of as much assistance to us new students. I was met by a what can only be described as a welcoming committee and quickly dispatched to a waiting coach for the ride up to my hall of residence.
The hall that I was to call home for thirty of the next thirty-eight weeks was Dale Hall in Mossley Hill. The building was based on the design of a Swedish prison (I kid you not) and as such featured pairs of rooms which shared a bathroom, all hidden behind a front door off the corridor. I had not been in my room for long before I heard my neighbour, coughing, spluttering and sneezing like a good ‘un. (During the course of life at Dale Hall, I was also to hear my upstairs neighbour and her sex-life soundtracked by Tracy Chapman’s eponymous debut album. But that’s another story…)
Anyway, as things had been so crappy for me at Sixth Form (partly / mostly / wholly my own fault, of course) I decided that I should knock on my neighbour’s door and introduce myself. Born and raised in Bury (that’s Booreh, not Berry) my new friend A*** and I had soon turned our conversation to alcohol and arranged a visit to the highly rated local hostelry, the Rose of Mossley. In fact, scrub that, we originally visited Chris’s Chippie. We only found the pub after having bought our chips.
I wanted to go to the football today, Liverpool versus Newcastle United. More of which later.
However, I had arranged with my parents for them to bring the rest of my stuff, so I was busy receiving them instead. I didn’t note it in my diary, but I am sure that I recall my Mum making a comment that she was a bit upset that they had come all this way to see me and all I had done was make it blindingly obvious that I would rather that they hadn’t… Sorry Mum.
Anyway, a few miles away in L4, Mirandinha’s penalty at the Kop end settled things in the Geordies’ favour after Gary Gillespie and John Hendrie had traded first half goals.
Tonight was that night of nights, the first ever Civil Engineering Society pub crawl. Well the first one that I had ever been on. I can’t remember much, save for the fact that I met a few of my cohort properly for the first time. Yes, I know that we had traversed a week’s worth of lectures together already, but to my mind you only really begin to know someone when you’ve been out on the lash with them. It’s as true now as it was then…
I only noted a couple in my diary mind. There was H***** – immediately christened ‘H’ and Ed. If we’d known anything about anything, we’d have called him Mr Ed, but we didn’t so we erm… didn’t. And then, there was P***. He was / is a lad from Cannock in Staffordshire. On hearing his accent and in my infinite wisdom, I asked him whereabouts in Birmingham he was from. He took it remarkably well all things considered, ‘I ay from Birmingham, I’m from Cannock…’ ‘Oh right, sorry mate.’
There were also a couple of Geordie lads, one of whom I developed an immediate and long lasting antipathy towards – he was a p***k(!) what is a man supposed to do? The other, after he’d forgiven me for my p**s poor attempt at a Geordie accent became a good friend and one of my circle of ‘copying’ friends. When I say copying I don’t mean blatantly and brazenly plagiarising… I mean offering mutual help and guidance… like a study group of sorts… honest.
Finally, the love of my life. Or rather the new love of my life. My latest infatuation. I did ask her out, eventually, but she wasn’t interested. It was great being in love with her though, especially when I thought that she didn’t have a bloke. I could sit next to her in lectures or stand next to her on group nights out, occasionally even talk to her. There was no pressure, only the deep delight that I took in being in her presence.
This was the penultimate weekend of my first term at University. As a consequence, the Mater and Pater were up to collect my stuff so that I could catch the train home next weekend.
There’s no mention of my having upset my Mum this time, so that’s a relief. Around their visit, I was popping in and out of the common room to watch Arsenal play Liverpool for the fourth time in about a month. Again, things were tight and the teams could not be separated. This time John Barnes’s sublime opening goal was cancelled out by an Alan Smith effort with twenty minutes remaining.
As we lurched towards the end of term, alcohol fuelled ‘revelry’ became the norm.
However, for one of our number things got a little out of control. A Scottish friend of ours, studying a science subject, had been on the lash for far too long, had drunk far too much and was far too immature to know how to behave properly. Truth be told it could have been any one of us, so I’m not having a go at him per se. Fact is we were all w*nkers.
Anyway, the upshot of all this nonsense was that asked by one of the University porters to tone down his high jinks, our friend decided that he didn’t want to tone anything down and finished on his arse after taking a swing at said porter, who promptly returned the compliment and ended the discussion.