My week off, part 2

Post length: 1,573 words, almost 7 minutes.

It’s about time I wrote this, given it was last year and all.

So I’d arrived in Lancaster.  The railway station is in the city centre and the university, and so my guest room, is a mile or so south of the city.  In the day there are plenty of busses running between town and campus (In fact there are at night now, too.  There is a night bus service which runs hourly through the night between the city and campus.  This wasn’t there while I was a student which is a shame – there would have been a few times I would have liked to use it!), and normally I would catch one of these, but I had both my camera bag and my large clothes bag with me so I opted to find myself a taxi.

Taxis in Lancaster live by both the railway station and the bus station.  I needed some money so I decided to head to the bus station.  As I rolled my bag through town I passed a number of groups of students out for the night and it reminded me of when we used to go out as a group from University into town.  It was the only time I’ve really gone out regularly – we go out occasionally now, but it’s not quite the same – at University we would go out pretty much every Monday.  Monday was student night in Liquid.  The night would start with us all getting together in the kitchen of one of my friends.  The group, mostly the other people in his block, plus me, plus some others, would meet and order a taxi (or two, or three) to get into town.  We would start off in the bottom Weatherspoons (there are two in Lancaster, the top one and the bottom one).  There people would fill themselves up with cheap drinks and generally chat.  Once closing time came we moved on to Liquid. There people drank more, the girls danced, and I stood around the side just taking it all in.  At the end of the night we’d pile out of the club, back into a couple of taxis, back to the kitchen, hang about a bit until people went off to bed and I’d usually make my way back ‘home’ to my room (I was in a different college) at about 3am.  It was good fun.

Anyway, I got a taxi onto campus from the bus station.  The prices don’t seem to have changed and, compared to London, the £7.10 fare seemed very reasonable.  In fact I ended up paying £10 because I had that as a note, didn’t want to get any more change, and was really quite keen to get to my room.  So he took me to County college where I was staying, between us managing to get reasonably close to the porter’s lodge without actually knowing where it was (I walked past it first time, actually, and had to come back the same way hoping no one was watching me getting lost).  It was about 10pm and the porter wasn’t there.  There was a note saying he was out on patrol and that if it was urgent I should ring security who would radio for him.  I didn’t think it was really urgent so I hung about for a bit.  Sure enough he soon turned up.

It was at this point it struck me how much older I look than I realise.  I had kind of thought that I would still look like a student, after all it was only a few years ago.  “Guest room?” he asked.  Oh.  Is it that obvious?  Couldn’t I have been a poor student looking for him to tell him that the kitchen sink was blocked or that someone had stolen the fire extinguisher from the hall?  Apparently not.  I’m not 18 any more and you can tell.

So I get my room key and drag my bags to the room, number 1.  Having gone the long way around not knowing quite which passages have been closed off by the new buildings, and fought with the front door to the block thinking it was locked and that neither of the keys I had was working on it only to find I didn’t pull it hard enough to open it in the first place, I got into my room.  I’d stayed in this block before and it was reasonable but this time I was disappointed.  The first thing I noticed was the mould around the window.  It has obviously got damp and no one had cleaned it so it had just got worse.  There was also bubbling plaster next to the bed and the bathroom was pretty grotty: mouldy and with a broken fan (this might explain why dampness had built up from the shower with nothing to get rid of it).  But I wasn’t going to spend much time there, so what did it matter!  I left my stuff and went in search of something to eat.

Campus has a Spar and for pretty much the entire time I was there as a student it provided my food, so I headed back there.  It was also the only real shop on campus open at that time (there are a number of take-aways and things).  Campus Spar sells some great Lancashire cheese, so I bought a block of that, some bread rolls, butter and a pint of milk then headed for the radio station.  The plan was to see if I could find a computer which was logged on so that I could use the internet.  The station was empty except for the DJ on air and one of the computers was logged on as admin, so I settled down for the evening.  It’s amazing how quickly I ended up in the same habits as I used to, perhaps it’s just because there was nothing else to do, but I started ripping CDs from the record library onto the playout system.  Time ticked by, a few people came and went, I spoke to someone called Natalie who, apparently, is a postgrad, and eventually it was about 1am.  Time to go to bed.

From past experience I know that the cleaners usually hit the guestrooms about 10am so had set my alarm for the morning giving myself time to get up, have a shower and be out of the room by the time they came knocking.  I headed for the shower with the vague recollection that the water in college residences was nice and warm.  I turned the shower on and tested the water.  It was cold.  The shower was one of those with a complex water volume and temperature combined controls, so I fiddled with it to push it to the point I thought it would run as hot as possible.  It still ran cold.  So I left it for a bit – maybe it would get warmer having been left running for a while…  I was right, and around 10 minutes later I had a warm shower, grabbed some breakfast, and headed out to the station and ripped some more music.

Some point around lunch time Vick arrived, as did Roper.  After sitting around chatting, and perhaps a little messing about, we set off in search of some lunch and a little present for the person who had organised the event in the evening.  Vick works for a radio station and she had her work car with her, so we all bundled into it and set off to Sainsbury’s in town to see if we could find something like flowers and a card.  On arrival Roper and I were dispatched to look for a card while Vick chose the flowers.  Once we had found the correct aisle we began to look for cards.  Now, there were a few which were thank you cards and a few which were just generic blank cards.  We picked a few up, looked at them, and put them back – you know, the way you do when picking a card – but decided against each of them for one reason or another.  This must have gone on for at least 5 minutes until, seemingly out of nowhere, Vick appeared.  In she swept, picking a card off the shelf without much thought at all, and headed for the checkout.  Roper and I were a little taken aback.  How can you pick a card like that without giving it any thought?  We followed here making comments about how we didn’t even realise that pink card was even a card, and other manly things.

Not much of excitement happened for the rest of the afternoon.  We sat in the station for a while, talked to some current members.  I have my card to the current sysadmin in case he had any questions about the playout system (he did, he emailed me although I’ve yet to reply), Vick told the guy currently working on a station re-brand that she could get him voice work from people at her work.  At about quarter past 6 we headed off to get changed for the meal.  Roper and I were both in the same guest accommodation block, and given Vick didn’t have anywhere to get changed I offered her my bathroom.  So we all headed back and got ourselves dolled up.

Posted on Monday 5th January, 2009 at 12:53 pm in Obiter dicta.
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