It's almost thirty years since I started university, and this week I've written a piece about first going to Lancaster University in 1988. You can read the full piece on my patreon - www.patreon.com/Paulmagrs - but here's an excerpt...
I want to go back in time and tell myself to go to that wonderful library instead. Just start reading now. Reading properly. Forget about the rubbish reading lists your courses have given you. Read this, this, this and this instead. You should get a head-start on yourself. (You would do this eighteen months later, in the glorious summer of 1990. You’d take control of your education and reading and slowly start to teach yourself to write all over again.) Just imagine starting that earlier, when you lived so much closer to the library, when there was nothing much to do on campus but read and talk.
I’d tell myself to start writing now. Write in your journal. Write some stories that have actual endings, for God’s sake. Write down all the wonderful details of this campus life, because this kind of university idyll – it’s going to change very quickly, very soon.
You should sit in the sun in Alex Square. You should even sit in the rain. Under the walkway, watching the rain drum heavily on the flagstones. The benches are wide and set deep into the walls and so it’s dry to sit here with your library books and maybe a vegetarian pasty from Birketts. Wholemeal Cornish pasties filled with bright green, buttery, peppery cabbage were the most delicious things that year. You’d have them with black coffee and Marlboro Lights. You’d be thinking about Italian New Wave cinema and about existentialism and sexy men. You could get a head-start on figuring all this stuff out. On really stormy days you could sit once again in the Nelson Mandela coffee bar, watching the short-loan library books flapping by as thieves dropped them out of the windows of the toilets above.