Shower Sickness

Films and television bombarded me with various clichés about university life, giving me certain expectations: that by December I would be eating cold Aldi value beans with my bare hands, that a year later there would be more drugs in my system than some shuffling nutter roaming the corridors of Broadmoor. What I didn’t expect was the shower. No feeling I’ve had matches the sheer vertical cliff face of hatred I feel towards the ‘Mira Sport’ shower in unit 4a’s bathroom. Mira is the Hamlet of the shower world, a whiny teenager vacillating between oxymoronic temperatures of arctic frost and uncomfortable ‘shouldn’t have worn this jumper by the log fire’ warmth. If Mira were a person this would be their awful first impression, but an actual conversation would reveal their greatest flaw: water pressure. Akin to having a pervy giraffe lasciviously swatting flies off my face, on a good day Mira might rouse itself to the water pressure equivalent of a heavily medicated old man dribbling slowly on the top of my head.

I’ve always had a deep suspicion of showers – the skin blanching heat and the banal inevitability of the accompanying full-length mirror that forces confrontation with the frank inadequacy of the human body. Yet showers are constantly thrust at me as acceptable as with Nando’s, reading on a Kindle and collaborations between Jay-Z and Kanye. Just like Amin, Gaddafi and Mao, shower lovers create a ‘regime’, a regime that orbits entirely around showering in the same way that a Catholic Mass revolves around chanting nonsense incantations whilst simultaneously playing Simon Says. Its no wonder that Bret Easton Ellis had his charmingly sociopathic serial killer protagonist Patrick Bateman slavishly following a strenuous showering regime in ‘American Psycho’. Showering is the kind of maniacal, narcissistic activity that Charles Manson and Ted Bundy enjoyed. Now, don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with good personal hygiene but my preferred method of washing – the bath, has been cast into cultural purgatory along with four piece guitar bands and thinking the Royal Family are vile. Still, I’d probably rather drink bleach than get back in the Mira Sport.


“I like it here can I stay” – 5 Random things I noticed during Fresher’s Week

1. “The House Always Wins”  

It’s an aphorism for a reason. Casino’s are far from what Hollywood led me to expect from them. There are no suave George Clooney’s and Daniel Craig’s or quivering, red-eyed Alan’s from “The Hangover” pushing around vast mountains of chips. The reality of the Casino is a hotel lobby-ish room filled with dead-eyed, mainly Asian pensioners whiling away what must be hideously empty lives.

What the hell does this have to do with Fresher’s Week you might ask? After many hours of clubbing, inebriation exacted a heavy toll  as I and a few others tumbled into the welcoming arms of Bristols charming Gala casino. Drunkenly claiming my free (the only free thing a casino will ever give you) registration/electronic membership card, which now needs to be destroyed as quickly as possible, we entered a wretched hive of scum, villainy and other similarly confused drunkards. Despite accruing a small fortune (or not), gambling deserves its reputation as a mugs game. I refuse to add more to this section simply because the very thought of the Casino now makes me angry.

A terrible place to do your banking.

2. “Hey Sexy Lady” 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has labelled it a “force for world peace”.  Tom Cruise, Britney Spears and 100 other celebs from the acceptable to the mediocre have shared it with their followers. Maroon 5 had the chutzpah to cover it. People across the world are making an embarrassment of themselves aping the dance in nightclubs. I naively thought I wouldn’t hear it more than 15 times last week. It was played at least 50. Thats right – Gangnam fucking Style – the unlikely soundtrack to Fresher’s Week. As a bedroom dwelling, Morrissey loving ascetic “Gangnam Style” ought to be the kind of vulgar, trashy and (God-forbid) popular smash hit that I love to whine and moan about. But it really really isn’t.

Please be my uncle PSY. Please.

As an almost offensively viral uber hit “Gangnam Style” has all the usual infectious ingredients of a smash pop song. However what makes it so difficult to deride is that it contains an air of irony to often missing from massive songs of recent times. Listen to “We Found Love”. Rihanna is just a barrel of LOL’s isn’t she? Thought not. The over-blown video of ‘Gangnam Style” is an antidote to this kind of po-faced trash and  brilliantly satirises the alienating “more is more” culture of whole swathes of popular music. PSY’s tongue is so firmly in his cheek that is practically burrowing out of his face. According to the artiste himself:

“this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something they’re not”

Such a sentiment isn’t particularly alien during Fresher’s Week.

3. Outsourced

On the first day at Badock room 4136, unit 4a (next door to me) was notable for the complete paucity of life within its boxy, pockmarked confines. This empty room has been the closest university has come so far to the sparkling wordplay, excruciating sexual situations and frankly unrealistic drug use seen in Channel 4’s superlative “Fresh Meat”. The (non) resident of 4316 was our very own Paul Lamb the invisible man.

He is actually quite shit at playing the guitar not going to lie to you.

Except this person wasn’t a Paul Lamb, for a start they actually appeared and secondly they were about as cool as an Indian foreign exchange student  can possibly be.  Reuben is a sort of 17 year old, Indian Bill Clinton (guitar instead of saxophone though) who fulfils most classic Casanova stereotypes. Within 12 hours of arriving Reuben had found a girl to “hold hands” with him. This seemed quite incredible given the utter foulness of the mango chutney Reuben forced upon us, but hey he does have a bit of an “aura”. Anyway, Reuben is so cool that he even has his own sidekick, the diminutive “MS”, very much the Robin to Reuben’s Batman she is believed to spend most of her time doing his laundry and waiting for him to take her to the circus. There is much more that could be written about Reuben’s exploits based on the last week alone but I’ve decided to save it for a rainy day.

4. Fat Bastards

ZaZa Bazaar is the United Kingdoms largest restaurant/trough, potentially seating 1000 customers/greedy ****’s each evening. The latter will gobble 60 chickens and a lorry load of vegetables every day for the foreseeable future. During Fresher’s ZaZa gave away free meals in exchange for the mobile phone numbers of a great deal of Bristol’s student populace. It represents a sort of “industrial moment” in the business of eating. Just as mind-melting mega blockbusters like the inane, misogynistic and frankly dull Transformers 3 pollute the soul, ZaZa represents a calculated assault on one’s stomach. That isn’t to say that its not somewhat enjoyable to eat 10 plates of moderately tasty food from 5 continents or whatever the advertising people try to spin it as. No, its arguably fine at that bovine, unthinking level.

60 chickens a day. 60. Chickens. A day.

Yet amidst all the gut busting, hunger pummelling, belt undoing feasting, yes actual feasting – Henry VII style, it is above all a vacuum of personality that one experiences at ZaZa. As an experience during Fresher’s it just didn’t work. In lieu of the incipient saps of friendship or blooms of conversation inside ZaZa was instead the sound of clattering of plates, the scraping of the sweet and sour sauce bucket for the last inch of cornflower-coated-pork-flavoured gristle. ZaZa left me confused then, at one level eating like a pig from neon lit troughs was quite fun, on another level it represents a horrific development in our entire approach to “going out” for food. With the expectation of very little in the way of conversation/human contact/joy I will go back to re-evaluate* my feelings.

*Gorge myself at the Chinese counter.

5. Epilogue – “coughers”

Coughers. In my lectures the week after Fresher’s. What are you trying to prove? That you drank excessive amounts of alcohol and  fumbled around unsatisfactorily with a member of the opposite sex? Yes? Good for you, good for fucking you but please, please stop coughing in my lectures. You are not even ill are you? Your coughs are so theatrical, so affected that they cannot possibly be real. I’m starting to wonder if there is some kind of cash prize for the biggest cu-, sorry cougher in the lecture hall on any given day. It’s actually driving me on the wall. It’s driving me Liam Neeson. And it only seems to be getting worse. 


Going To University

When going to Uni, the two real issues are money and what, if anything occurs after we roll out of the place. Thanks to Tweedle Dave and Tweedle Dumb over at Westminster both latter and former take on an increasingly cartoonish aspect. The economy resembles a skateboard riding, arthritic waiter hurtling towards a closed door carrying an offensive number of dirty dishes on one finger. The economy was bad enough in 2008, when forensic photos of Gordon Brown’s fingernails were considered news. If he were still PM the poor bloke probably would’ve chewed off his own arms by now. Money is the smaller pain anyway, it’s one of those things you need ‘enough’ of, like sex, food and sanitary products.

The future is the scary thing, the one people don’t really like to talk about and put up strained white flag smiles up for. Morosely the future limps into view. If the media is right – and lets not kid ourselves it always is – in four years time I’ll either be Mark Renton or Patrick Bateman. Maybe I’ll be both. Maybe I’ll be camped in a Milton Keynes squat huddling for warmth over a charred pile of worthless fivers. Probably not. I mean there are few limits for a possessor of a History degree right?

About Me

I’m always on the verge of doing things, deciding to think about things – joining a gym, getting a ‘personality’ haircut, actually sitting down and reading Pride and bloody Prejudice. This is Generation Nag, Generation Fanboi, we’re all so desensitized to everything thanks to the Internet that a woman putting a cat in a bin gets more media coverage than a Japanese tsunami.

Culture is the window I like to examine things through, looking in, past the happy condensation and shuddering orange glow of mass appeal. Being the only teenage Morrissey fan left alive in the year 2012 (it feels like it), the greatest affront culture presents is song lyrics. In 30 years we went from ‘Hand in Glove’ to ‘Party Rock Anthem’.

Of course sitting on a ledge of pure threshold, juggling little bright black mirrors like everyone else, I’m in no position to cast a critical eye – but I will try anyway.