Having unexpectedly become a heroic figure for the student community, I have enjoyed a period of respite from snarling as I try to edge my way through the throngs cramming the corridors.
One student even held a door open for me, instead of the usual tactic of letting it slam in my face. Several have smiled at me over the last week, a rare event indeed. Most students’ faces are fixed in the grim stare that their parents must feel grateful to be relieved of having to see every time they ask their offspring to get off their backsides and do something like walking the dog or peeling the odd potato.
So popular have I become that I was actually invited to dine with some of the animal-rights group who have come to see me as their Chicken’s Rights Champion. The lout, who goes by the name of Just, stopped by to issue the invitation.
Just is an abbreviation of Justin, the name he was given by his nice middle-class parents, but just as he has acquired a fake Coronation Street accent to disguise the fact that he was born and raised in Surrey, so his piercings and abbreviated name are supposed to disguise the fact that he was head boy at the local grammar school.
It was hardly gracious as invitations go. “Yo, Glo,” he shouted at me across my office, “how would yous like to come an’ ’ave a bit o’ nosh wi’ us tomorrow night?” Yous and a bit o’ nosh indeed!
“Ta, lad,” I replied ( you have to join in the role play if you don’t want to be an outsider), “sounds like a cool plan.”
So there I was at 7.30, standing outside one of the houses in our student village, with a bottle of Asda plonk, trying to get someone to answer the door. The noise was deafening; every room in every building was throbbing with some different kind of music or blaring TVs.
Eventually, by banging loudly, shouting and beating on several windows where the curtains were always drawn, someone tottered to the door.
“Oo the fuck are you?” said a dishevelled young man, wearing some decidedly dodgy underpants.
A semi-clothed girl I vaguely recognised peeped round a door. “Christ, Gez,” she squealed, “it’s my tutor. Just invited her to dinner.” She recovered her poise with alacrity.
“Excuse us, Dr Monday,” she went on, revealing an upbringing that bore all the hallmarks of a mum like Hyacinth Bucket. “It’s been such a stressful day with the exam results and all that and I’m afraid we have all fallen asleep. Do please step into the kitchen and I will alert the rest of the house.”
She was pulling on clothes as she spoke, and ushered me into what can only be described as an outright utter shitcan, as my Uncle Geoff would have said. There were stacks of filthy dishes, countless fast-food packets, half a dozen rancid black plastic bags just behind the door, and the remains of meals that even the starving would probably have rejected on health grounds.
The girl, whose name I now remembered was Sally, grabbed a filthy cloth and wiped ketchup off a seat so that I could sit down. The semi-naked boyfriend had obviously dashed off to waken the half dead, and Just staggered in, carrying a few plastic bags.
His working-class accent slipping, he apologised for the “untidiness”, washed a glass at high speed, opened a cupboard and grabbed a bottle of vodka. Although the cupboard door was shut immediately, I could see that there didn’t appear to be much in there apart from vodka and several packets of Cheerios.
Students in various stages of undress filtered in. A washing-up group swung into action, although, to my horror, the process involved dunking dishes into grey water and standing them unrinsed on a rack. Someone started frying onions. My bottle of wine was received rapturously, so, emboldened, I inquired whether the rugby boots and ball on the kitchen table might be moved before we ate. “No worries,” said a 6ft hunk with a Down Under accent.
I rate the evening as a success. True, the food was vile – Quorn and pasta shapes, followed by chocolate biscuits and some stale cake that someone’s mother had brought in after Christmas and had been accidentally left in that someone’s bedside locker, but the drink flowed and my nicotine addiction gave me a lot of street cred.
There was just one awkward moment when I asked for an explanation of a multicoloured chart on the kitchen wall, and after some muttering and exchange of glances, Just finally admitted that it was something to do with a house competition.
I pressed for details, and learned that this was a noisy orgasm indicator. “Interesting,” I said, trying to remember when I had last had even a mouselike orgasm, and that led on to accounts of why their house was noisier than any of the neighbouring houses and so much detail was provided that I blush to remember it all.
Sometimes I feel like an old, old crone.