Sunday, 13 November 2016

A Year in Norwich: A Week in the Life (UEA) IV

Thursday, 20th October 

It is the eve of Libby's birthday so the first thing I do that morning is nip into town to get something for her. I get her a bath bomb and bath melt from Lush, going on the idea that we are all in third year and need to relax, and thinking these fit neatly with what I know she's getting from other people. I then go to Tesco to get some ingredients for her cake, which I'd hoped to make this morning but am running a bit too late.

I get the bus from town to campus, do some last minute reading and head to my seminar, which lasts no less than three hours. These are my only timetabled hours of the week - hence the lack of organisation. I really love my module however and the seminar goes well. We learn, among other things, that a "gentle cock" is in fact a "gentile cock." Not just your common or garden cock, a posh one. Posh enough to write a poem about. There's a break for sustenance halfway through. I eat a caramel square and then we discuss Chaucer's Wife of Bath which we'll be reading next week. 

The concepts are all fascinating but I begin to worry about how this will all actually be assessed, as I want to start planning whatever essay I have to write ASAP. There's an option to do a creative or critical assessment and while the creative intrigues me, I think the latter will be a much safer option - especially as it'll be worth 25% of my final year, and therefore 15% of my degree. There's a lot of focus on context in this module as well as close reading, which as a historian I really enjoy, but I think the others would prefer more literary reading. I think this will develop as the weeks go on. We're a week behind as one seminar got cancelled, so we're only in week 4 confusion rather than week 5 panic right now. 

I go home immediately after my seminar, make myself some food and start on Libby's cake - double chocolate. While it's cooling, I unwind in the shower and then Skype my parents. Libby and Issy (who she used to live with) arrive and I hear them notice the cake. I decide not to worry about it being a surprise and ice it standing beside Libby as she makes her dinner. "You know you're getting a cake," I tell her bluntly, but I still hide it in my room when it's time to get ready for her party - partly because I want at least the decoration to be a surprise and partly to protect it from hungry dunk people. I have been one of those.           

That evening people arrive for pre-drinks. We have already warned the neighbors so as not to be the Hated Student Layabouts on the street and have promised to be out by eleven. With much herding, this does happen. Earlier in the evening, lots of people mill about around the house, and we try to make sure we talk to everyone as even in a student house, there is such thing as the pressure of entertaining.  I realise I've had too many Woo Woos from my new cocktail collection and have to go up to my room, sit down and have a quiet word with myself. I probably send a lot of Snapchats at this point - or so I am told.

I can't recall who I end up walking with but we seem to arrive at our chosen club in no time at all - the drinks are cheap, the music is good and the atmosphere is decidedly less threatening than many other establishments. As we go through the doors I recall the occasion when I let several people in to the club for free by accident and hurry past in case I'm recognised from this incident. Not that I would be. 

I've said I'll only stay for a couple of hours, for Libby's sake... I shouldn't be out at all as I've got work at 10.30 and if loss of limb will not excuse me, then a hangover certainly won't. At some point in the evening we are all dancing in a circle - there are maybe seven or eight of us - with Libby in the middle and, at Abi and Sam's request, the DJ wishes her a happy birthday and plays a song by Sean Paul. I feel proud because I learned who Sean Paul was earlier this week, and it is probably the happiest moment of Libby's life so far - or that's what she assures us of, both while drunk and the next day while sober. Therefore, it must be true.

A couple of epic karaoke performances later, I have spent much longer here than intended - but how can I deprive people of my angelic voice? As we leave - separately but somehow ending up together when we reach the main street: this defies all logic and reason - I feebly suggest my favourite fast food vendor, but Libby already knows where she is going. With a determination not often seen in her eyes - or in anyone's eyes, for that matter - she marches us up the street to a place with indoor seating. On the journey, hand outstretched like a single beacon of hope in an apocalyptic world, she mumbles "cheesy chips" half a dozen times. When we get there, the seating is a blessing because there are so many people it appears to have a kind of ticket system. They must have heard about the chips. I order a cheese burger and stand for perhaps fifteen minutes - or was it a fortnight - waiting for my food as everyone finds a table and sings Libby "Happy Birthday." It is probably louder than any of us remember.

At the end of the night, I am eating a cheeseburger at 4.30 am, Libby is entering her twenty-first year, and I don't think Abi or I can actually walk properly so we decide on a taxi for what would only have been a fifteen minute walk. It is the best £3 I spend all evening. My four and a half hours of sleep before work are not enough.

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