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.
- 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!