These, alas, are the last words I will write for Palatinate, a reality which you, reader, have no doubt read with a nigh-overpowering sense of dismay. Yet here we are, my three years in Durham are almost through.
It is a cliché to say that all good things must come to an end, but this nevertheless rings true. Over the past few peculiar terms, this sentiment has driven me forth to make the very best of the time I have left in this city.
And what a glorious city it is. I have only recently – thanks to extensive lockdown coffee walks – come to fully appreciate the wondrous beauty of these grey towers, this half church of God, this half castle ‘gainst the Scot.
Legendary former Palatinate Editor-in-Chief Harold Evans, in an article for this paper’s 800th edition, summarised this place with far greater eloquence than I could ever dream of possessing.
“This amazing, historic peninsula awakens dormant senses. Who could not be thrilled, and changed, by the learning, the music, the debates, the architecture, the companionship, the contiguity of town and gown.”
Who could not? Certainly not I.
The buildings I have been surrounded by, the friends I have made, the things I have learned, the ways I have grown, the memories I will keep. This place has left its imprint deep inside me, indelibly cast in darkest ink.
Frankly, it has been the privilege of my life to attend this university. A state school-educated North Yorkshire lad who missed the grade requirements of his offer, that’s me.
At times, I have struggled, like many others who go up to Durham from similar backgrounds, with a sense of inferiority. When surrounded by a crescendo of casually confident and conspicuously cultured peers, it is difficult not to.
Over time, however, those feelings have steadily dissipated. It does not matter, at the end of the day, that I do not fully enunciate my speech, offer frightfully boring insights into art and literature, or style my hair like peak-90s David Beckham.
I have proven I deserve to be here, not in spite of who I am, but because of it. For that, and so much more, I owe an unquantifiable debt of gratitude to this paper.
In a way, Palatinate has defined my time in Durham. I first joined as a naïve and fairly shy first-year two weeks after freshers’ week, becoming Deputy Sport Editor.
Beyond writing articles, I didn’t particularly get involved in the paper until the following year, when I moved up to edit Sport alongside Tomas Hill Lopez-Menchero, an experienced hand if ever there was one.
Alongside our deputies Alana Ker Mercer, Hector Pearce and Matt Styles (yes, the Matt Styles), we had a blast. Long, rainy afternoons spent in the office on painfully slow Macs didn’t matter. We were producing the sports coverage which we wanted to read and having a laugh at every step along the way.
That experience was pivotal in being offered a year abroad with the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. Sadly, a certain global pandemic had different plans.
But things always work out if one perseveres with faith: in spite of it all, the last year has been outstanding.
I’ve worked with genuinely brilliant people – Imogen, Tash, Toby, Max, Harrison, Hugo and Millie – to lead the production of these pages, always in awe of their unrelenting work ethics.
We’ve grafted in our attempts to create a sustainable future for this paper, always endeavouring to ensure that the unbelievable opportunities which it has given to us will also be there for the generations of Durham students to come.
That fight is not yet over, and I have no doubt that Toby and my successor will drive boldly forwards, ever searching for those golden, sunlit uplands which lay just out of reach. Go well, team. I’m right behind you.
To the Editorial Board, thank you. Your passion and creativity has wowed me every single day. There are too many individuals to name, but special mentions must go to this year’s Investigations, Comment and Sport teams. Quality chat, quality work. Thank you for it all.
Being able to spend time with the team in person, after so long on Zoom, has been an absolute pleasure, and something I will always be grateful for.
I still feel immense sympathy for last year’s finalists, who had their final term in Durham ripped away from them and thus were not able to properly say goodbye to this wonderful city.
My friends and family, too, deserve credit. Again, they will know who they are – both old and new, from home and at Durham – and what they have provided. Here’s to keeping it together as we hurtle towards graduate life.
Ultimately, being recognised as the UK and Ireland’s best student newspaper in May’s Student Publication Association Awards was just the icing on the cake. The memories mean so much more.
So here we are: the end of the road. I hope you enjoy reading this edition as much as I have enjoyed contributing during these three wonderful years.
Image: James Tillotson