No-one Told Me Life Was Gonna Be This Way

‘SEVEN!’, ‘Pivot!’ and ‘Janice’. Or perhaps you’re into the more obvious quips like, ‘we were on a break’, ‘how you doin’?‘ and ‘he’s her lobster’?

I settled on these two as my top faves:

Ross: “I went to that tanning place your wife suggested.”

Chandler: “Was that place the sun?”

and…

Joey: “What’s not to like? Custard – good. Jam – good. Meat – good!”

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Twenty-five years. 25! How did that happen?

Twenty-five years since ‘Friends‘ first aired in the UK. Call me pathetic, but I feel quite proud that I was there to enjoy it the first time round.

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And the second time, when repeats aired.

And the third time when I bought the majority of the series on VHS. Re-runs on Sky followed, and I’m now living vicariously through my teen, who is watching it on Netflix.

She cried hysterically for days when it was ‘all over’ and chose to re-watch them all again. (Good girl.) She would come to me and ask:

“Who’s this?” (Chrissy Hinde)

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Just call me Chrissy of the morning…

“Why did the audience cheer? (Billy Crystal (plus Robin Williams)

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“Why did everyone scream?”  (…Oh come on. Do I really need to even make you guess…?)

Talking of Friends, it’s a beautiful irony that the series anniversary coincides with that of meeting some real-life friends. It’s 25 years since I started University.

I’m trying to get this blog live and if I go into my loft and hunt down a pic I will be gone for days. So here’s one just when we just graduated and hit Marbs. Bear in mind this was pre-GHDs and decent self-tan.

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Mabfield Crew Summer of 1996

I’ve blogged about student life in previously, but this is a major anniversary and one that deserves some proper recognition.

I remember it like it was yesterday, and somehow, this weekend, my (exceptionally clever) nephew is off on the M1 towards a life of enriched education. (But first, Freshers’ Week.)

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I can smell the innocence

If I had to write an episode, (life goals right there), it would be called:

‘The One Where the Kids Don’t Know They’re Born’.

Because this generation of Uni kids really have no idea how much better they have it than 25 years ago. I looked through a friend’s list of Uni requirements, just to see how things compared from back when I was a student.

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Duvet – most first year Uni dorms/halls have single beds, but I still say buy a double duvet. Far cosier and more useful/cost effective in the long run when you hit second year and hopefully bag a double bed.

Decor – We had little choice in 1994. Do students still buy the hippie scarf things and pin to their walls alongside rave flyers? All hail Afflecks Palace back in the 90s in Manchester. Now you can decorate your room with the cost-effective help of IkeaPrimark, Homesense and Dunelm, finished off with your Love Island duvet cover from River Island. Hello ‘Casa Amour‘.

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I can still smell it…

Mattress/pillow protectors – you had to try and slide a mattress into what was basically a massive pillowcase. Thankfully now they come like a fitted sheet. I think the best protectors are from Dunelm – and I should know as the Allergy Queen.

Mattress topper – I don’t think they were much of a thing in the 90s, but definitely worth a purchase to plump up a lumpy mattress. Year 2, my housemate had to buy a new mattress after the landlord refused, because the mattress in question was only a year old. However, we knew the boys who rented our house previously and I wouldn’t have slept on that mattress for all the tea in China.

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Don’t let the bed bugs bite?

4-gang Plug adapter. Much like a hotel, the plug points are never where you need them/enough of them. So useful.

Massive sports bag for dirty washing. You know the ones. Usually chequered patterns. These never go out of fashion and are great for shlepping dirty clothes down to the launderette (unless you’re lucky enough to have on-site facilities.) We didn’t have this luxury, so it was down to ‘Mr Bubbles’ launderette on the parade. (Now a property company, fact fans.)

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FYI, this never happened

Kitchen stuff – was and is still my favourite thing to buy. I bought the basic necessities. Breville, saucepan, frying pan, cutlery – but I have little recollection of using much of it as we mostly dined on microwave meals, takeaways from Abduls and Pot Noodle. Much as I envy my nephew with apps such as Five Guys, Deliveroo and Uber Eats, nothing will beat queuing for kebab from Abduls in Fallowfield.

Am I envious of students today? With their smartphones, online food shop, takeaway apps, Netflix, Amazon. Not forgetting ASOS next day delivery. For sure, I’m envious AF of the immediacy of their lives.

However, some things should take time. Like friendships. So to all those embarking on this new chapter of your life, you may think you have your circle of friends all set. Perhaps friends since babies, or throughout school life, but if you’re fortunate enough meet a group of friends at Uni half as special as the ones I met, then you’re in for the best years of your life with memories to treasure for the next 25 years and beyond.

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The Mabfield Girls. Friends. For life xxx

x

PS. I had a re-think, and much as I envy what students today have available to them, I wouldn’t swap my student experience for the world.

PPS. You can keep your Uber eats and your Primark. We had the Haçienda nightclub and that is student goals right there, imo.

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RIP The Haç

 

 

University Challenge

Watching friends’ (and complete strangers’) social media feeds with all the goodbyes to their University-bound offspring, is giving me ‘all kinds of feels’.

I have two girls and whilst I am a fair way off that ‘Insta-moment’, I hope that one day they will head off to University to study their respective passions. (Currently no known degrees available in ‘Slime Management.’)

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I just can’t imagine them fleeing the nest. What will they eat? Will they clean their rooms? Will they wash their bedlinen properly and use a fabric sheet in the tumble drier?

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I have pretty clear recollections of that journey up to Manchester where I was off to study ‘Design & Art Direction’ for three whole years.

I remember the liberating feeling of gathering ‘bits’ for my new Northern life. I saw one friend recently doing the University shop for her triplets – TRIPLETS!!! No wonder the duvet cover selection in Primark was empty. Clean sweep.

My ‘digs’ were called ‘Student Village‘, right in the centre of town.

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Village of Students

We were the first group of students living there, so everything was brand-spanking new. Chairs not sat in, toilets not shat in. A pretty good start I’d say, compared to the horror stories of student accommodation that some friends were opting for.

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Standard. At least the bin’s not overflowing.

We were ‘the lucky ones’.

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Looking more like the Young Ones

Four of us from London were sharing a ‘mini flat’ – you had a front door with a shared bathroom and kitchen, then your own bedroom.

As I nervously navigated my way through the airless corridors, I found my room and was greeted by my friend in room C330, who was just unpacking the last of her stuff in her room – spacious, big, bright.

My room? C331. Dingy, Narrow. Dark. The other two rooms in our flat were pretty decent by comparison, so I had truly got the shit deal.

Can I go home now please?

I honestly couldn’t think of a worse living space to be in and was contemplating leaving for London, with my friend’s dad who was about to head back.

Seeing the disparity in our rooms, and the devastation in my eyes, friend’s dad got to work. It was all very Mission Impossible, but with less dangling from ceilings.

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This mission was possible

With a handy background in security, he changed the lock cylinder between my poxy box room and room C329, one of the other two vacant rooms. (sigh, let me explain…)

So, basically, my original key still fitted in the lock, yeah? With me so far?

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We simply shifted the lock barrel out of my original room (C331) and swapped it over with that of the more preferably room (C329).

Capiche? (Come see me at the end of the blog if still unclear.Unknown-6)

Oh, and we also prized off the door numbers and swapped them over too. If you’re going to do a job, do it properly.

Thinking back, it was proper criminal stuff. I could have got thrown out day one. get me! The student rebel.

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That’s my hand. Bottom left. Okay maybe not…

I’m not saying I ended up with a south-facing garden and en suite bathroom, but I really loved my new room.

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My room. Not actual, but very similar

It was glorious, with its basic furnishings and scratchy pube-style, stain resistant carpet. I decorated the shit out of it with every rave poster I could find on the streets of Manchester.

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Pretty much my bedroom

A whole happy year was spent in those halls, which even included a prison style riot. Over what, I can’t actually remember. One day everything just went a bit mad and people were chucking all kinds of shit out of their windows. Chairs, crockery….I think I threw a ream of paper. See? Rebel, I told you earlier.

 

 

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Buenos Aires brings in the new year by chucking old notes and memos from windows.      Credit: Flickr user dandeluca

The scholastic year came and went and the time was right to move out into the suburbs, where all the second years headed to for added ‘independence’. (Read as: smoking weed without a central smoke alarm going off in the building. More about that later…)

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Fallowfield. The mecca of second year students

I’ve mentioned it before – so I’ll touch on it again – but I lived in a house with a group of 6 girls, our strong bond formed through living out our year spent at student village.

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9 Mabfield Road. My road

Oh, what a schmutz-hole. But it was our schmutz-hole.

The walls were held up with more blue tack than the entire chain of WHSmiths.

I don’t even remember cleaning the fridge for the entire 2 years I lived there. Let alone mopping the floor.

The basement was more of a damp coal cellar where one housemate would sit at her sewing machine ’til the wee hours, to work on her Textile degree. (And it actually smelled of wee in the basement.)

We were all the same though – one friend had a futon in her room whereby you literally couldn’t see the difference between the edge of her bed and the piles of stuff all over the floor. It was just all ‘one level’.

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Do people even buy futons anymore?

Another friend would have these mad blitzes every now and then, where she would literally empty her entire room out into the hallway (brilliant for fire safety) and go for a mad clean up.

It wasn’t all disgusting though. There was some level of pride in our student schmutz. One flatmate had a glorious collection of trolls (the original ones, 90s style).

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The rest of the room could have been a pigsty, but the trolls were neat and tidy at all times. Until one nasty boy visited and chopped all of the trolls’ hair off. Literally scalped each and every one of them. Conniving sod that he was, he carefully placed each ‘troll toupee’ back on top of their heads, so my friend was none the wiser until the weekly cleaning ceremony, when she went to pick them up by theirbeautiful tufty hair. She was livid.

All this dirt and lack of hygiene is possibly why I am now so anal about my family home and keeping everything neat and tidy. That said, I didn’t turn out too badly having survived on a diet of Pot Noodle. And maybe a bit of actual pot…

Good luck to all those starting University. And try to wash your sheets once a week

x

P.s. No-one ever found about ‘room swap’. Until the day some of us were in my room and it got a bit smokey…ahem… and the building fire team came up to investigate why my smoke alarm went off.  Except they went to my original room, because that smoke alarm was still assigned to room C331.