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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
Sex and drugs and rock'n'roll
Like I said, I've decided that I prefer salad. And the closest I got to salad was a spinach and mushroom quiche from the health food shop where I have to go to buy the toothpaste I like. I should eat more salad.

At lunchtime, the town centre is full of freshers, nervous and acne-sprinkled and radiating desperate self-identification, broadcasting their image in signs so simple that even the opposite sex could understand. Some of them are tentatively holding hands -- perhaps first-night flings, or perhaps the high-school sweethearts who will soon be jettisoned in the first burst of self-destructive self-discovery. They've all changed; for the first time they are men and women rather than the boys and girls who left the classrooms only a few months ago. The air between them crackles, and it's not just the static as velvet jackets brush against each other.

Or lack of. I've not been drinking coffee at work, and that's probably at least a partial explanation for how incredibly grouchy I've been the last couple of days. I did allow myself to have one can of coke, on the grounds that:

- coke a) costs money, and b) can only be acquired by going out of the office and round the corner to Nadia's, so I won't be tempted to just keep drinking more and more of the stuff.
- coke tastes nicer than the coffee at work, so it's a treat rather than a drug
- I needed some caffeine to stop the shaking and weird visual disturbances, okay? Cold turkey at work is not great.

They're clutching cups of coffee, cans of coke, cigarettes, anything to keep the hands busy, and they're talking fast and nervously about what they believe, what things mean, who they are, who they are, who they are. The self, the newly-awakening self, is the most dangerous drug of all; it's like having acid tabs pasted to your eyeballs, your face splitting in a grimly chemical smile as you try to make yourself heard, your self, yourself, over the white noise of a thousand bodies stuttering into existence.

Rock 'n' Roll:
Richard Thompson, "Action Packed: The Best of the Capitol Years" -- only a fiver from Fopp. Okay, so it duplicates stuff I've already got, but it also covers the good bits of the albums I don't have, and features two "previously unavailable on CD" tracks. And besides, the stuff I've already got is so good it's worth having twice.

It doesn't even matter what they're buying, I can feel the agony of decision over even where they choose to stand, what they choose to browse. This could change the course of their lives. They're picking the soundtrack -- the music that will loop on their stereo through the grey hours of the essay-shadowed night, the music that will be obliterated by intense conversation in the small hours, the music that will comfort them and remind them of home, the music they'll dance around the room to, the music they'll fuck to, the music that will always remind them, the songs they won't be able to hear without crying.

I feel like I've lived a lifetime in my lunchtime. Somebody else's lifetime, and rain on the streets of Cambridge.

This year's freshers were born in 1986.

Now playing: Richard Thompson, "The Ghost of You Walks"

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andrewwyld From: andrewwyld Date: October 1st, 2004 08:49 am (UTC) (Link)
That makes them as old as our first home computer.

I'm now officially scared.
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: October 1st, 2004 08:53 am (UTC) (Link)
They're younger than the Reeboks I wear when I want to pretend I'm vaguely athletic. Eeek!

(And about 4 years younger than my first home computer, but that was a ZX81.)
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: October 1st, 2004 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)
This is flat-out beautiful writing. You've caught the essence of a particular life experience perfectly. *hug* Thank you.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 1st, 2004 09:15 am (UTC) (Link)

I always find it hard to believe that somebody who writes properly should actually rate my ramblings. But I'm very flattered.
geekette8 From: geekette8 Date: October 1st, 2004 08:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Amazing writing. I love walking round Cambridge in early October, watching the freshers and reminiscing. I remember *so well* what it felt like, and you've really summed it up there.

*deep sigh*

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sphyg From: sphyg Date: October 1st, 2004 09:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Uzi 9mm?
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d_floorlandmine From: d_floorlandmine Date: October 1st, 2004 09:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful mood-capturing writing. Although I might have felt better without the date at the bottom - and I'm not even old yet!
acronym From: acronym Date: October 1st, 2004 09:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Love the writing. There's another class of fresher, though, and please
excuse me writing here, but this is what Freshers' Week always reminds
me of:

locking themselves into old new rooms with the books and notes and binders and memories of home, not sure who or where they are but so determined, so comically overserious, uptight; a parody of the adulthood you got on 1970s sitcoms, neatly-pressed and antiseptic...

children still, insecure and paranoid (but at least they're smart, else they wouldn't be here, right? Right?), twitching at the background noise of the new neighbours moving in (and is that a knock at the door don't be a knock at the door please, please be a knock at the door), and you don't care because if you don't care it can't hurt you, but


j4 From: j4 Date: October 1st, 2004 09:30 am (UTC) (Link)
if you don't care it can't hurt you

I have my books and my poetry to protect me.

And I do know that class of fresher well (and no need to excuse your writing, here or elsewhere). But they're probably not the ones I see in town, or even the ones I knew at university; they're the ones I only saw creeping in and out of their rooms very occasionally, and I wanted to go and say hello but I didn't have the faintest idea how to begin and besides they wouldn't want to know me because they were the clever ones, but I lived in fear that one day they'd die in there and nobody would know.

And sometimes they do.

Mostly, though, they tear their way out of the cocoon eventually, and spread their wings.
acronym From: acronym Date: October 1st, 2004 10:21 am (UTC) (Link)

I wonder whether you see how very very appealing the ability to run around drinking and shouting and wear daft clothes - the freedom to let yourself do your own thing even if it involves making mistakes - can come across to people struggling with a cocoon of paralysing terror at the thought of doing... anything at all, really.

Exactly that. I was having this conversation over lunch with another friend of mine; she's just back in Cambridge with dyed hair, a holdover from the festivals, and we were discussing being sensible: I reckon she's more sensible than me, because she can dye her hair red and dance without a sense of self-consciousness because she knows it doesn't matter.

That perspective, that you can have that freedom and it won't hurt - that the worst that will happen is the psychic equivalent of playground grazes - is a confidence the people I was talking about just don't have, and though they're behaving in a parodically mature manner, it's the people down in the quad or the college bar who are more adult.

At least for me, I found - find - it's not adulthood; it's suspended animation.

- A
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: October 1st, 2004 11:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Not apropos of anything very much other than the title:

"Sex and drugs and rock'n'roll
Are all my brain and body needs... "

goes rather well to "Greensleeves". As does Black Sabbath's "Paranoid".
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arnhem From: arnhem Date: October 1st, 2004 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oddly, I'm not seeing the new freshers at all. The people I keep noticing are the slightly older ones who've very clearly just turned up here for postgrads or RAs or fellowships or whatever, and are walking about looking very self-contained, but with a slight smile on their face.

They always keep glancing upwards.

From: besskeloid Date: October 2nd, 2004 05:18 am (UTC) (Link)
This year's freshers were born in 1986.

Bloomin'eck, I've got a Walkman that's that old.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: October 2nd, 2004 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)
This year's freshers were born in 1986.

And less than 5% of them have any security at all on their SHINY NEW laptops.
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