Monday, 14 September 2009


Rightcha! I've decided I'm going to go all retrospective again and speak of another thing that happened to me when I was but a fresher!

One tool that was offered to students at the beginning of the year was Blackboard, an internet forum where freshers could post questions and discussions. It was used only and exclusively by the nerds. In fact it might as well have been called the Nerd Club considering the long discussions on the poetics of Orwell’s Animal Farm posted by the eighteen-year-olds who hung around (with myself at the very helm). There was also the feminine equivalent of those discussions, which were the same thing except that they went on about which guy Jane Austen was marrying to which heroine in whichever of her endlessly tedious novels we had the misfortune of studying. (The tediousness of Jane Austen’s novels has always been one of the greatest and most resolute subjects of disagreement between me and women. To this date I have no idea what the fuck there is of appealing in her round-robin of marriages in which nobody gets shot, fucked or at least killed if not by the most idiotic of methods, like falling off a horse or getting tuberculosis).

One day someone on Blackboard leaves a post saying, ‘Hey, let’s organise a meeting among bookworms.’ And I’m like, yeah, let’s do it. There are quite a few responses on the site, so I am expecting a proper social. It is therefore something of a surprise for me when, presenting myself at the entrance of the Union Pub, I am confronted with the solitude and the melancholy of a Celtic funerary urn. There is no-one there except for one other fellow whom I met once at the end of a seminar and who had struck me by no particular feature other than his being a Lord of the Rings profound expert (read: a fucking nerd). The guy has all the conversational skills of a dead mollusc so I am not too thrilled at the idea of having to spend the night with him. However it’s not like I’ve got a crowd of strippers waiting for me at home, so I suggest that we get a couple of drinks. We do so, then we sit down and start drinking.

The conversation is mortally boring. The guy seems to think that the publishing dates of the first Lord of the Rings copies would be the topic to end all topics and he goes on about it for approximately half an hour. If my life were a sitcom, this guy would get flamed for being cliché. Not even fictional nerds are so monothematic. About halfway through the night (as one would expect), two of the girls who were supposed to be part of the group showed up.

‘Are you guys the only ones here?,’ they ask. Just to drive in the humiliation.

We get them to sit down and immediately the guy on my left asks them if they’ve read the Silmarillion by any chance. I take my head in my hands and am pondering whether to drown myself in the beer or whether to break it on the idiot’s forehead. Fortunately the two girls are a little more fun than the guy and the night picks up a little, to the point that another pint later they invite us up to their college (an offer which sounds really enticing, but which in reality was not at all for two reasons, the first being that there was no sex even remotely hinted towards, and the second being that even if there had been, the girls had two faces like a pair of omelettes loosely bashed together stuck on top of two bodies like public water cisterns).

So we go up to their place, and that’s where the tragedy takes place: I insult their poster of Russell Crowe in Gladiator. It’s like I had insulted the ancestors who fought in the One Hundred Years War for their families. They get up in a rage and start defending their idol. I am rather drunkish by this stage and I have the impression that if I let it go, then the other guy will start talking about Frodo and Pippin, so I keep up the talk and go into pretty extensive detail as to what Russell Crowe does between three and four a.m. in the gay quarters of Rome.

The girls are offended. They sit down, cross their arms and start talking among themselves. I really don’t want to speak about Gandalf, so I temporarily walk away from my friend and sit down in front of the computer. I check out, in succession, my e-mail and my forums. Finally I pop over onto Blackboard.

One of the girl calls me to tell me how anti-social I am being (after she had been the one to freeze me out) so I leave the computer and go there to have my say. Eventually the beer dissolves all tensions and we are having a nice chat.

At around half-midnight, the girls have to go to sleep and me and my friend are unceremoniously kicked out of the room. What with the alcohol I am starting to feel like making a pass, so it’s a blessing from heaven that I am not allowed the time – not only would I have felt bad on the night if they had rejected me, as was likely (tremendously likely, to be punctilious), I would have felt far worse in the morning in the unlikely event that that pair of walking pizzas had consented. Amen.

We wander like lost leaves for about half an hour. Eventually we find someone whom we know vaguely and who is still awake, so we spend three of those pointless hours one spends when one is drunk, watching meaningless videos on the internet. Finally I go back to my place and fall asleep.

I have to wake up early the next day because I have a two-day road trip with a couple of fellows from the literature department to go and see some medieval castles (or what was left of them – from my recollection it wasn’t so much a castle as six or seven rocks taken up there in a sack and thrown about in the grass, but what do I know). I go there in a state of considerable tiredness of course, but it makes for a good two days all things considered and we have some fun.

When I come back home, I switch on the computer. I check several internet sites, then I end up on Blackboard. I check my list of unread messages, and I find a strange topic entitled, ‘Regarding poetry.’ I crease my brows – it had been opened by me. I click on the link and read the following paragraph:

Not to be crass here, but does anyone else think that Japanese porn is so much better than Western porn? The core of the dialogue is a bit silly at times but the effect of the animation is so much better than those saggy-boobed Eastern European ladies, those always make my balls pull back in shivers xx

Oh. My. God.

Below that are the comments of several professors pretending to be ‘anonymous students’ and kindly suggesting their disapproval. Most of them start with phrases like ‘Oh dear’ or ‘My, my.’ I don’t know which are more embarrassing – if those, or the comments of some fellow students who applaud what is obviously an act of drunken bravado and encourage me to repeat myself in the feat. I barely even register them. I am thinking of those two flying bints with whom I’d had the Russell Crowe argument two nights ago. Obviously I had left the Blackboard account open on their computers and their act of revenge had been consumed by such lateral means.

‘We assumed you’d delete it within ten minutes,’ one of them later exculpated herself. Ten minutes? Ten freaking minutes?? ‘We didn’t know you were going off for that country-hick trip of yours,’ she continued. What pisses me off is that the fucking thing stayed up for thirty-six hours as a consequence of my trip to the jungle, and she wasn’t even trying to look serious while she told me all this. In fact she was laughing.

I never used Blackboard again, and I have yet to see the film Gladiator without cringing. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, and sometimes I don’t want even want to talk about it.

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