Surround yourself with radiators, not drains

The Independent newspaper used to have a section called My Biggest Mistake.  The Big issue magazine (UK equivalent of Fifty-Fifty) had a section along the lines of, “What advice would I have given my younger self?”  My answer would have been, “Surround yourself with radiators, not drains,” especially at university, that great place of (academic) learning.

Learning points:

  • It is better to be alone than to be with fair-weather, false, friends.
  • Discard the false friends if you have come to know them.  Sunray used to talk about having only “acquaintances”, and not “friends”, while serving in the Army.  Will H used to talk about “friends” and “friendly faces.”  Is a face really just a mask?
  • If you can’t ditch the false friends, don’t try to buy friendships.  They are not worth the time or money.  I think of all the years and pounds wasted, treating “Deeps”, as treating him and his family to Sunday lunch in a nice Yorkshire Dales pub.  Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can fund your naïvity.  Was it his charisma, his the cheeky bumpkin (DE: der Bauerntölpel) persona that made me stay in touch, try and buy his friendship?  Why, oh, why did I really want to stay in touch with a racist, juvenile, back-stabbing, belittling individual like him?  (But otherwise he was alright…)  Maybe I was too naïve in believing what the teachers told me at sixth form college (DE: Oberstufe):

The friends you get to know at university are the friends you make for life.


  • “Charisma” is often just a veneer.  When I think of my first-year room-mate, let’s call him “Kiwi,” he was charismatic, the life and soul of the party, a real charmer, but underneath lay something not so nice.
  • Develop good time-management habits.  
    • YOLO (unless you are a Buddhist, in which case you come back as a cockroach).  
    • “NTWP” should not be reserved just for the lonely hearts ads.  It’s a valid philosophy in life.  (“No Timewasters Please.”)  
    • Perhaps surprisingly for a pads brat, I lacked discipline at university.  Maybe it’s not that surprising.  When you have a control-freak, interfering mother, with the tact of a sledgehammer, who tells her 20-year-old son, “You are not taking your passport with you to university.  I know you.  You’ll lose it,” it’s hard to escape from a framework of imposed discipline.  (And, no, I have never lost my passport.)  Anyway, Larkin’s This Be Verse rant over.  If I’d spent more time in the library and less time with Deeps and co., well, hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it…

Now I’m older and, I hope, wiser.  Experience is the best teacher, and your own is the most painful one.

Have a friendly day, won’t you!


2 thoughts on “Surround yourself with radiators, not drains

  1. Weiser Engländer….:-)

  2. There was once a famous exchange between a judge and a lawyer.
    Judge: “I have listened to your argument for the past hour, and I am none the wiser.”
    Barrister: “None the wiser, perhaps, but certainly much better-informed.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s