Friday, 22 November 2013

22/11/13 - Student fritters

About a year ago, the theme of JuicyPips was ‘what I spent my student loan on’. Look:
Well, dear reader, you’ll be thrilled to learn that a mere ten years and five months after graduating, I have indeed paid the whole thing off. All of that snakebite-and-black I bought is finally my own legal property and nobody can say otherwise. If only I hadn’t pissed it all out and flushed it away. I should have retained it all in some sort of vast rubber bladder, I could have something to show for it all.
The crux of that post last year, if you can’t be arsed to click the link and see for yourself, is that I principally spent the money on four things: cars, CDs, shit clothes, and booze. But now, since I can finally draw a line under the whole thing, and the Student Loans Company can’t cast any aspersions over my character for frittering away the cash they lent me in good faith on stupid things, I can now reveal the other things I blew my student loan on…

MiniDisc player
Don’t laugh. At the time, MiniDisc was the Next Big Thing. I was (and still am) an enthusiastic record collector, and much of my time as a teenager was spent happily crafting mixtapes. MiniDisc seemed like an almost magical way to evolve the mixtape format – not only could you splice together all of your favourite songs, but they were all in proper digital quality (even if you recorded over them a hundred times), there’s was no click-thump between tracks from where you’d pressed the pause button, you could easily swap tracks around if you fancied, you could label them digitally, it was all very clever.
At the time, though, I had a midi system, and bought the MiniDisc deck as a hi-fi separate that I plugged into it. This wouldn’t do at all. So it wasn’t just the MiniDisc deck that I bought with my loan, but a new amp too. And a new CD player. And so on.
To be fair, I’ve still got the separates, and they all still work. This was by no means a waste of money, and it was worth living on Super Noodles in order to have a decent stereo. No regrets.

I went to a lot of gigs as a student. Portsmouth, for all its many, many faults, is at least rather well served for concert venues. There was the Wedgewood Rooms for small, intimate (and very, very sweaty) gigs, the Pyramids on the seafront for bigger bands, and the Guildhall in the town centre for big-hitters. And all my favourite bands of the era were keen to come to town – Mansun, The Wildhearts, A, Supergrass, Muse, Idlewild, Vex Red, Placebo, The Cooper Temple Clause, Reef, The Jeevas, The Electric Soft Parade, Sum 41, 3 Colours Red, Soulwax, The Datsuns, Terrorvision… you name it, I was there, drunkenly leaping around. It was a weird badge of honour to go to the Student Union straight from a gig, wearing your freshly-acquired bootleg band t-shirt (that you bought from a street vendor for a fiver as the official ones were twenty quid), all sticky and reeking of sweat. I don’t go to a lot of gigs these days, so I’m glad I did it loads when I was younger. Happy memories.

Playing pool
I’m not very good at pool. I don’t even like it that much. But in my first year at uni there was a grotty little pub at the end of our street that never had anybody in it aside from a smattering of aged regulars, so we spent a lot of time playing pool and listening to Blur on the jukebox. (I don’t remember why it was always Blur – maybe we didn’t like any of the other records in there.) I got to be quite good at it for a while, but it’s a skill I rapidly lose. To be honest, pool is something that I get better at the more I’ve had to drink. Like darts. Or perhaps it’s just that the more drunk I am, the better I think I am (and/or the less I care about winning). There were pool tables in the union too. We even went to an actual pool hall a couple of times, by choice, for whole evenings. Seems like a massive waste of time now. The kind of people you meet in pool halls are not, by and large, the kind of people I want to hang out with. I’m not interested in fighting, spitting, racism or tracksuits.

Imperial Leather Foamburst
For some reason I thought this aerosol-propelled shower gel was brilliant. I used to buy it all the time. In hindsight, that was a massive waste of money for a student. An absurd extravagance. What’s wrong with a bar of soap, you fancy sod?

Going to Plymouth

One of my housemates was from Plymouth, and he convinced us all to go on a road trip down there for a night out. The memories of it are hazy, and somehow in my mind they’ve melded with that road trip they take to Warwick in The Inbetweeners. But in short, Plymouth is a dump.
Well, maybe that’s unfair. We didn’t see much of it. We arrived at his parents’ house on the outskirts after it had gone dark, got a bus full of shouty yobs into town, went to two of the bleakest and stickiest nightclubs I’ve ever encountered, then all went back to his house and slept on his floor. It was pretty awful. The next day, before heading back to Portsmouth, we were all paraded into town in order to visit the shiny new branch of TK Maxx, which is apparently something that the people of Plymouth are very proud of.
On the whole, it’s probably one of the most expensive nights out I’ve ever had. And I still can’t really work out what the point of it was.

So, a bit of a mixed bag all in all. I think the positives outweigh the negatives though, and hey – I actually properly own my ten year-old MiniDisc deck now. Hooray!

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