Things have taken a turn for the better. After many trips to the DSU, hundreds of cups of tea and one long phone call with me trying to talk down my understandably angry parents, we’ve finally worked everything out with the landlord and the building works on our house are set to be done in a few weeks. I suspect that at this point I know more about UK housing law than an actual housing lawyer. To celebrate this and a few other occasions, we go out to Spag’s for dinner.
As we walk into town, everything is oddly still and quiet. Usually at this time of the evening, hordes of students would be staggering into town in search of Quaddies, merriment and hopefully a free hat. Gone are the cheerful splatters of vomit on the streets, the apologetic drunken streakers, and the enticing smells of kebabs and greasy pizza. Instead, Durham has become an eerie ghost town.
Inside, we trek up the many flights of stairs to Spag’s and then spend a good 20 minutes deciding what the cheapest items on the menu are. My options are even more restricted since I’m vegetarian, but I’ve never been a picky eater, and anything is better than last night’s Tomato and Pasta Surprise. The surprise? The only ingredients are tomatoes and pasta. I’ll be honest; my cooking skills are a work in progress.
Midway through our meal a man with a wheelie case approaches us. Due to stress and my poor cooking skills, I haven’t eaten properly in days, and so I have taken on the attitude of a wild animal when it comes to food. I hunch protectively over my pizza in case he’s planning on stealing it.
“Excuse me, are you students at the university?” he asks, as if observing some rare specimen of butterfly.
“Er…Yes,” we reply, not sure where this is going.
As it turns out he’s doing what so many of us remember well; accompanying his daughter all around the country in search of the perfect university. He asks us for advice on what Durham is like and we reassure him that it’s lovely and that our college is clearly the best one to choose.
“How could he tell we were students?” Lavender* asks once he’s gone, “Do you think it’s because we’re all drinking tap water?”
“Maybe,” I reply, “Or it could be that he spotted us trying to sneak back to the free salad bar five times.”
Protips for livers out this week:
- Your new neighbours might not want to be woken up at 2am when you get back from a night out, even if they’re also students…
- Make sure that you’re familiar with routes to and from your new house; stay safe and avoid places with no street lighting. Above all try not to get lost! (I am speaking from experience here…)
- On a positive note, although it’s very dark and a bit scary at night, the cathedral is well worth a look (see picture)
*My housemates, because they are lovely, have allowed me to write about them on the condition that I change their names.
Photograph: Bryony Hockin