Thursday, 25 January 2018

Alma mater

My recently published story In Appreciation of their Cox is set in the city and university of Durham, in the north of England, though you won't see the name of the university anywhere in the text.

It was an amazing place to live as a student, sort of like Hogwarts - a "city" only in name, because it has a magnificent cathedral, but smaller than most towns, and centred around a wooded historical peninsula.

It has a castle too - which is one of the colleges that make up the university.

Yeah, we we're a privileged bunch in EVERY sense...

Durham was where I did my degree, and though I never rowed, the rowing teams were a very visible part of college life. I certainly knew where the college boat house was.

Durham was where I first discovered that I liked Indian food. It was where I first got drunk (I was a slow starter with a sheltered childhood, okay...). It was where I found LOADS OF FRIENDS who I felt I really had things in common with for the first time in my life. I joined the Games Society, ran my own Call of Cthulhu games, and I started LARPing.

I got laid at last (TOLD you I was a slow starter!). I lost my religion.

Oh the relief

I've still got many of those friends. I'm married to one of them right now. And I still LARP ...
... which is quite frankly one of the reasons I need a bigger house

As I prepare to move house now, in 2018, I'm aware that I don't really attach to places I live. I won't feel sad about moving home - I'm excited by the change. Durham was an exception to that rule, perhaps the only one in my adult life. Leaving in 1989 was difficult and unpleasant, and I don't think I got over it or properly detached for years.

In Appreciation of their Cox is mostly a joyous gangbang story about fit young people - no, I did NOT do that at university, sorry to disappoint y'all - but it's also a nostalgic elegy to a place I will always love and a meditation on letting go.


1 comment:

Kate Douglas said...

I can't even imagine studying in a place like that! I'd want to be exploring CONSTANTLY! The campus I went to was so new that I was the first class to go all four years, from freshman year to graduation. The trees were sticks and there were no traditions, definitely not a rowing team (our son rowed--what a beautiful, grueling sport!) and no sense of place. I'm envious of your experience, but how wonderful to have that in your mental toolbox!