At about midnight on Saturday night, I met some students just about to start their first term at University. It was in Scarborough, and they introduced themselves to us because wanted to know why we were taking photos of a guy dressed as Ringo Starr from the Sergeant Pepper's album cover as he posed on a lifeguard hut on Scarborough beach.
To be honest, I thought that was self-evident: we were clearly on a stag do, and Ringo - the stag - was clearly having a Hasselhoff moment. What else would he possibly be doing up there?
Anyway. We got talking. It turns out that Freshers Week started on Monday, and they had just moved up to Scarborough and were having their first night out on the town. I'll be honest and say that I didn't even know the town had a University, and although it's a nice enough place for a weekend on the sauce with your mates, I'm not sure that I'd like to spend three years there..... but their enthusiasm and excitement was infectious and they were good company for the hour or so they spent with us and the increasingly dishevelled groom-to-be.
It's one of those landmark moments in a life, isn't it? Going up to University. Except that I'm not sure it really was for me.
From the age of seven to the age of eighteen, I attended boarding school. By the time I left, I was already well accustomed to staying up late, drinking with my mates and more-or-less doing whatever I pleased. I enjoyed University, but it wasn't the formative experience that it seemed to be for many of the people around me. Looking back, I don't think it's any coincidence that I'm barely in touch with anyone I met at University, and almost all of my closest friends are old school friends.
As we walked up from the beach towards the next bar, I discovered that Ringo felt almost exactly the same way as me. He's getting married in the chapel of our old school in October, and he asked me if I enjoyed school as I always seem to be so negative about the place. Well, it's true that I certainly wouldn't send my own children to a place like that, and I wouldn't want to get married there either, but it was nevertheless one of the most shaping experiences of my life. For better and for worse, it played an enormous part in making me the person that I am today: arrogant, opinionated, emotionally withdrawn.... and no doubt a few negative traits too. University was good enough, I suppose, but I don't think had anywhere near the same impact on me as my school days.
Still, looking at these excited kids, just starting out on their University careers, and even I'm not curmudgeonly enough to wish them anything but the best.
Not just yet, anyway.
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