Monday night. 11pm. Walking home from a Tesco run. In my bag is coffee, cheese and a gift box of luxury Lindt chocolates. Just for me, simply because I can. I craved chocolate and thought, why not go high quality? Some girls run out of a building. They look 18, maybe younger. They hold aloft drinks in plastic glasses. I watch them totter ahead in their heeled boots. Whooping and drunken chatter. They wear tight jeans and skirts.*
Incidentally, apart from me the only other customers at Tesco had seemed to be half-dressed, drunk students foraging for provisions. I’m sure somewhere in the backwaters of my memory I can find myself as an undergraduate out on a Monday night too, but currently it seems absurd. Monday night?! I am not judging. I remember when my friends and I used to be just like those girls. 18 years old, energetic and insecure, dolled up because that was just what we did, what we felt was expected of us. Perhaps while we clacked past a pub in our high heels we might catch a glimpse of some mature students sitting inside, the women in clothing not reminiscent of the Pussycat Dolls and still seemingly self-possessed and confident. Now I am definitely on the other side of that pub window, probably wearing a black polo neck and discussing Robert Burns.
I’m kidding. Also, don’t get me wrong, if you had sought me out last Friday night, you would have found me getting happily smashed for a friend’s birthday. I feel like my attitude to partying is akin to my aforementioned selecting of chocolates. I don’t often indulge these days, but when I do, it damned well better be good (and during the weekend). My select nights out here have all been amazing. Sometimes they are nights in, because there are enough people living here to not warrant leaving the common room, as long as we have each other, enough alcohol, and the pool table. Doing it all in furry slippers is always a plus.
Perhaps mostly due to geography, one thing from past party days that has come back to haunt me is the old ending-the-night-in-a-takeaway phenomenon. I put it down to the fact that our pizza joint is literally 10 seconds from our doorstep. The guys there now know me, my friends, and our usual order. I have shown up there in various states of inebriation, including (most shameful of all) stone-cold sober. We’re still young yet!
*We’ve just read James Salter as part of my course. There’s something very haunting and hypnotic about his style. This was my lame attempt at imitating it.