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.