Well it’s been quiet here since I started uni but now P-2004 is recharged and raring to go. An almost invisible face-lift has occurred which will allow for some new features to be implemented, but more on that another time. For now, you deserve a highly condensed recap of the last two months. The strange thing about being a student at Cambridge is that you literally split your life in two. Half your time is spent in that crazily intense atmosphere, with terms of just eight weeks, and the other half is spent at home, mostly just recovering to go back at it again! Although no matter how hard you might try, you can never keep the two entirely separate. Even weirder is to realise that I’m already one ninth of my way through a law degree. Where on earth did that time just go!?
My room is great, not the biggest in college, but certainly comfortable by student standards with a decent ensuite to boot. Most important, however, is the fantastic view (the shots of Downing below are all taken from my window). It’s amusing how many people here picked Downing for its looks first, and then discovered it was great for their subject. I settled in faster than most, living on one of the most sociable corridors in the college. The first floor of K staircase is so friendly, in fact, that our kitchen usually plays host to a number of people from elsewhere. So there’s Rav, a physnatsci (Physics Natural Scientist, keep up!) who I’d spoken to on the forums before arriving here, Catherine, a medic who was actually the first fresher I spoke to after arriving, Irish Chris, a lawyer conveniently stationed just next door, Angela, a sweet Irish-Singaporean physnatsci lass on the other side of my room who evaded my camera all term (do I get points for not mentioning your height?…dammit, I just did!), Matt a bionatsci boatie (c’mon, you can work out what that means, surely), Tom a medic boatie who I got to know better later on (largely through a shared love of Halo 2 and Half-Life 2 which the others failed to fully appreciate), Pushpaj, a brilliant young medic who arrived with a fridge ful of longlife milk so that he barely needed to leave his room, and finally Phantom Third Year whom we rarely see at all.
Thing started off with the usual myriad of drunken freshers festivities, including the obligatory pub crawl, pub quiz (where my knowledge of films and old kids TV helped net us a delicious fudge first prize!), and fancy dress parties (calling for creative use of dishtowels and sticky name-labels). Having got to know the lawyers fairly well through meetings with tutors, and early lectures, I then fell in with a crowd of medics after they invited me to crash the medics’ freshers do in the VIP room at Cindy’s, one of the local clubs. Having blagged my way in, I proceeded to talk my way through the evenin as a medic (good courtroom practice, right?). I ended up hanging out with that crowd on a regular basis after that, with Irish Dave and Lydia spending a lot of time over at K. In fact many people who actually live in K assumed Dave did as well based on how often they saw him. Five weeks later he discovered a room with a bath that no one else had noticed, and so it was donated to him if he ever wished to spent the night!
Perhaps worried that I’d forgotten why I was there, work suddenly kicked back with a vengeance. They didn’t exactly break us in gently, but then I’ve always loved a challenge. Fortunately my room, definitely designed for a lawyer, came with a lot of bookshelfspace (some of which I’d carefully converted into the more crucial DVDshelfspace). I certainly did enough reading to get by, but did not laboriously produce the vast reams of notes that some of my colleagues did. But frankly I’m not sure how useful that would have been anyway. “Christmas consolidation” quickly became the watchword of the…err, lazy. I managed to garner a slightly unfair reputation amongst my neighbours of never doing any work since, to be fair, they rarely saw me doing any. The truth is, of course, being a nocturnal creature, I probably did far more while they were asleep than awake. Nevertheless, the reputation stuck.
The positive side of doing law is being flirted with. And not (just) by individuals. No, by entire firms. First Herbert Smith bought everyone folders with pencils from Freshfields and Norton Rose and a funky mobile phone holder. Then Clifford Chance paid for a cocktail party at the upmarket River Bar, that’s £40 of cocktails per person, open to every first year member of the Law Society. I didn’t even end up speaking to any of the firm’s representatives there, I think they were letting the money speak for itself! Amidst a series of small presentations with wine and nibbles scattered around Cambridge, most of the Downing lawyers opted out because we felt walking beyond the walls was a bit much if we had to sit through a presentation too! So barristers from 3/4 South Square came to Downing (despite the fact it was a university-wide drinks presentation). CMS Cameron McKenna did a great job subsidising the impressive Law Society Ball (already £50 a head, but I later heard their alcohol budget alone catered for a bottle of champagne and four bottles of wine per person!). And finally, the masterstroke was by Slaughter & May who specifically took out the Downing lawyers for wine and a fully paid three course meal at a nearby hotel while we chatted. Oh, and free Parker pens as we left too. Now, I remember why I’m doing law…
My room was actually the focal point for many late night gatherings, collecting up a fair alcohol stash and carefully selected Thornton’s delicacies. Later dubbed The K Bar (with its own theme song, “I wanna take you to The K Bar…”, to the tune of Electric Six’s “Gay Bar”), the DVD collection meant it catered for the non-alcoholics too, and it conveniently stayed open well after the other bars and pubs had closed their doors. K Kitchen was the other central meeting point, especially once we began various communal cooking projects such as the pancake champagne breakfasts and regular Sunday brunches, as well as some distinctly odd fusion attempts (and they were odd, I don’t care what you say!). In fact large portions of the pantomime scene I penned with Rav and Irish Dave were born in that kitchen.
And so having properly settled in, it was inevitably time to head straight back to Croydon…