A Tale of University Life

Chapter 1: In which Tilly bids farewell to her parents, and embarks on a new life

Tilly was excited. Her first day, at one of Britain’s leading universities. Her parents in the front of the car smiled proudly to think of their daughter growing up.

They were approaching a tall, grey building. ‘Sorry Halls,’ mused Tilly. ‘What a splendid name for a place. So dignified, yet melancholy. I’m sure that I will study hard here.’ As they drew closer, Tilly could see many other young men and women, with parents carrying their possessions into what would be their new home.

Tilly and her parents parked the car, and spent the next few hours ferrying her stuff to and from her room. Her room was small, but cosy. And the view! Tilly was sure that from this height, she could see for miles. Then it was time to say goodbye to her parents. ‘Goodbye Tilly’ said her mother. ‘Study hard. Have you started looking for jobs yet? Its never too soon.’ Tilly laughed at her mother, because she was old and not getting any, and didn’t make much sense nowadays. ‘Goodbye mummy.’ ‘Goodbye girl’, said her father. ‘Make sure you, you know, get around a bit when you’re at university. Meet lots of young men. You wouldn’t believe the number of women I had to sleep with before I found one who would cook for me and do exactly what I say.’

Tilly’s mother laughed good-humouredly. ‘Dick, stop teasing the girl, she’ll be fine.’

Dick’s face remained blank, as he smashed Tilly’s mum in the mouth. ‘Get in the car,’ he uttered without moving a muscle in his face.

They drove off, waving. ‘Goodbye Mummy, goodbye Daddy,’ Tilly cried. ‘Goodbye Tilly’, her parents called, her mother still smiling through a mouth full of broken teeth. Tilly smiled at the car, retreating into the distance, at her parents. She would miss them. They were eccentric, but they had been happy together.

Tilly turned back thoughtfully to the place that she had just moved to. Its pebbledashed walls arced into the dreaming skies above her. Already Tilly could feel the magical atmosphere of this place. She imagined generations of scholars before her screaming ‘Sorby’s mum takes it up the arse.’ She went inside.

Chapter 2: In which Tilly meets some authentic Northern people, and discovers her place in society.

A confusing melee of people were hurrying around inside. Tilly could see that some people were still moving in, so she decided to join some people who were having lunch inside the canteen. The canteen was full of steam, and a vast array of exotic looking foods gleamed inside steel trays and polished glass windows. Uniformed workers were shovelling food onto plates at great speed, and calling out to one another in brusque Yorkshire voices. Tilly’s heart leaped with excitement- so these were northern people! A woman over in the corner, stirring some glutinous soup- could that be Mrs. Whatsername, out of the Secret Garden? (you know the one played by Maggie Smith in that film, or was it some other slightly hard faced Brit actress). Did she see Dickon, with his pan pipes, charming squirrels into today’s meat pie? Was that Jarvis Cocker, wiggling his rear coyly in an apron, as he served out a ladle of chips?

Tilly was awakened from her reverie suddenly. ‘Lass, you’re holding everyone up. Do you want pasta, chips and potato with your pie, or just pasta and chips?’

Brought back to the real world, Tilly got the rest of her food, and moved through into the busy dining area.

Tilly saw an empty space, and asked the girl next to it if she could join her. The girl smiled at her, and Tilly sat down. Tilly introduced herself, and asked the girls name. ‘I’m Emma,’ the girl replied. ‘I’m doing history. I got two ‘A’s and a B, and took a year out working as a bin man in Peru.’ The boy opposite Tilly offered information about himself. ‘I’m Michael. I’m doing Engineering. I got three ‘B’s. I didn’t take a gap year. At my school I was a prefect.’ Tilly absorbed this information quietly. And then, spontaneously, Emma declared ‘I’m a Beta. I’m happy to be a Beta. Being a Beta is the best.’ Michael agreed with her. ‘I’m a Beta too. Being an Alpha would be horrible. They get too much money and go to Cambridge to join the foreign office. I’m glad I’m not a Gamma. They have to go to former polytechnics and be laughed at by Ian Hislop for not going to a proper university.’ To Tilly’s amazement, all of the people on her table joined in. Luckily Tilly hadn’t even heard of Aldous Huxley, so she wasn’t too alarmed at this. Still, she had to go to her room and rest her head for a few hours.

Chapter 3: In which Tilly painfully discovers the necessity of inhibitions.

Tilly had been in her room for a few hours, when someone knocked on her door. She opened it to find her a group of her neighbours in the building waiting. ‘We were going to go for a drink’, explained a friendly looking girl. ‘Do you want to come?’ Tilly eagerly agreed, and they went off to a local pub. Several hours passed, and Tilly found her head spinning.

Tilly found herself talking to a boy called Tom. Tom seemed to be talking very strangely, a bit like that bloke on that program that Tilly’s dad used to watch, Robot Wars.

‘Ecch, so Tilly,’ Tom began. Tilly burst out laughing.
‘Eh, what’s so funny our Tilly?’ Tom asked.
‘It’s your voice Tom, that impression you do of Craig Charles’, Tilly gasped, shaking with laughter.
‘That’s not an impression, Tilly,’ Tom explained. ‘That’s me reyl voice, lykche. I’m from Liverpule.’
And then Tilly realised the full horror of her situation. For she was talking to a boy, who had a real accent! Her parent’s had warned her about this- oh stupid Tilly! Tilly looked around wildly, but her gaze unfortunately fixed on something that made her situation seem even worse-a large bulge in Tom’s trousers. Tom looked at where Tilly was looking. He smiled, reaching into his trousers where the bulge was, and pulled out a book. Tilly read the cover. ‘Lady Chattersley’s Lover?’

To be continued…