It’s not a sum they teach you in school, but Nytol + alcohol = vivid dreams.
Last night, I unconsciously drifted back thirty years to when I headed off to college... Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic to be precise...
It was a very naïve eighteen year old that emerged from the yellow Vauxhall Viva (KDC414P... how random a memory is that..?!) and shuffled nervously into room no.9 of Monkchester East Hall of Residence, Coach Lane Campus. It was my first time away from home and perhaps unsurprisingly, I found it hard to settle into my new surroundings... a knock on the door on my first night from a girl in her pyjamas inviting me to a party was the first of many things for which I wasn’t really prepared...
I was studying (term used advisedly...) French, German, Politics and Economics. The languages weren’t a problem... well they weren’t back then... the other two subjects were new to me – and please don’t ask why I chose them. Politics turned out to be boring but manageable, but I just couldn’t get my head round Economics (hence the overdraft...).
My brain just didn’t (and doesn’t) work in that sort of way... I managed a pathetic 30-something per cent in the end of year exam... the first exam I had ever failed in my life and that, as far as further education was concerned, was that. It was one of what would turn out to be many bad choices, although for a time I was consoled by the fact that I could say “I can’t under-stand this supply and demand shit” in two foreign languages...
So did that year change me as a person?
I’m not honestly sure I can answer that. My naivety and ability to make mistakes in life continued well past my teenage years, but to a small degree I did gain some independence (although it took me a long time before I realised I could cope on my own...). That said, I did learn a lot about myself – not all of it was positive... not much at all, in fact; but I did realise that fundamentally I was a decent, trusting and loyal person. Good traits to have (I believe)... easy traits to take advantage of (I would learn the hard way...).
I have a lot of memories of those times... sadly the photo-graphic reminders were lost courtesy of one of the “mistakes” I referred to earlier. I can remember the names of all those on the ground and first floors of the Hall... even Vera the cleaner! And I’m still in touch, albeit occasionally, with Stephen my best mate from those days and last year, thanks to the power of the search engine, I was “found”by Ruth (née Watson of Starbeck, Harrogate). Not only is it lovely to be in touch with someone who meant a lot to me all those years ago, she even managed to unearth a couple of photos featuring yours truly (and yes I did have hair...once upon a time).
So here I am today, older (much...) and wiser (I hope...)... I might have got things wrong along the way, but everything happens for a proverbial reason and I am typing this as a very proud father and equally lucky husband of someone more special that I believed I deserved.
I will close with one of Ruth’s photos of the building I called home back in ‘82/’83... Nytol + alcohol... good to know...
All my own work... almost.