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The Cambridge Diaries teaser

The Cambridge Diaries: A Tale of Friendship, Love and Economics is available in print format.

Chapter 1

A lot of people said a lot of different things when I told them I was thinking about it. My teachers at school said it would be a wonderful and enlightening experience for me. My Mum said it would hopefully lead to a ridiculously high-paid job so she could retire and go and live somewhere a little hotter than Preston. My friends said it would turn me posh and gay. I wasn’t sure what to think. In the end, I applied.

Chapter 2

I’d love to say that the journey down had been fun, but if the truth be told, it hadn’t. Long car journeys with my Mum rarely were. One of the problems was our differing taste in music. Basically, mine was good, and hers was nothing short of awful. John’s car had one of those six-CD multi-changer things, and Mum and I were permitted to load three CDs each. And load was definitely the operative term, because some of Mum’s CDs were certainly lethal weapons. Whereas I had selected a broad range of beautiful music from The Beatles to Coldplay, calling in at Bob Dylan and Badly Drawn Boy along the way, Mum had opted for The Love Album (40 love songs straight from the heart), and its two equally painful sequels. The CD player was set to random mode, and I felt like I was playing a game of Russian Roulette as I watched the digits spin round and round. I found myself unable to enjoy any of my songs, as I knew that by the law of averages, Lionel Richie, and a subsequently slow and excruciating death, was only moments away. When Ronan Keating started going on about a rollercoaster, I nearly opened up the car door and jumped out. The second problem was the system that decided who sat where. Now as John was driving, he had a pretty legitimate claim on one of the front seats. However, seeing I was a good eight inches taller than my Mum, I reckoned my case for the extra leg room in the front was significantly stronger than hers. But of course Mum feels sick when she sits in the back of cars, and Mum is boss, and so it was I that was forced to endure two-hundred-and-forty cramped-up minutes spent sharing the backseat of a Vauxhall Astra with two large suitcases, a duvet, and a desk lamp. To make matters worse (I can hear the violins playing) the desk lamp was precariously perched on top of one of the suitcases, and chose to constantly remind me of its presence by thrusting its base into my head every time we turned a corner. My only respite was the time it took us each to eat a greasy, but nevertheless very tasty, Bacon-Double-Cheeseburger in a service station just past Birmingham. And so, when we eventually turned into the car-park of St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, on an otherwise unremarkable Saturday afternoon in the late September of 2000, I had no blood left in my legs, permanently scarred ear-drums, and a couple of butterflies tumbling around in my stomach.

There was no time to attempt to cure any of the above ailments, as no sooner had the car stopped, than Mum leapt into action.
“Come on Josh, stop being so lazy!”.
This was an all too familiar phrase. Variety would be found in the command that followed, selected by my Mum from a list of about fifteen, including such gems as: Don’t leave your dirty washing in your room, put it in the machine; Don’t leave your mug on the table, put it in the sink; and who could forget: Don’t leave the newspaper on the floor, put it in its proper place. Music to my ears, from a CD that seemed to play all day, everyday. Today’s command was a new release, chosen to fit our new surroundings:
“Quickly go and find out where we, or should I say you and John, have to carry all your stuff to”.
“Yes Mother, anything you say, Mother”
Mum hated being called Mother.

I heaved my aching limbs out of the car, breathed in a gulp of fresh Cambridge air, and headed towards the narrow stone archway that stood at the end of the car park. I felt like a lost little child who doesn’t want to be found just yet as I wandered around, hands in my pockets, and head swinging loosely on my neck. I had been here once before for my interview, but I had been too nervous to notice anything back then. Now my eyes were wide open, trying to take in every detail of this new world I found myself in. Having ventured through the archway, I followed the little path around, being careful not to trample on any precious flowers or trip over my own feet and make an idiot of myself.

My eyes soon fell upon what would later come to be known to me as Sherlock Court. Cambridge was very keen on its courts, and most colleges housed a family of at least two or three. In the family of St. Catharine’s College, Sherlock Court was the shy little sister of Main Court, preferring to spend her days hidden out of sight, as opposed to flaunting her wares in front of the gazing public. The dominant feature of the Sherlock Court was the grass, neatly cut, and laid in an L-shape across the ground. This smooth carpet of green was bordered by a combination of paths, plants, soil and bushes, and was shut off from the rest of the world by the surrounding buildings. Some of these buildings looked old, some looked new, some were a nice sandy colour, some were a dirty white. I was about to avert my eyes from the surrounding buildings when I found myself pausing for thought. Any two-year old who wasn’t blind could have come up with that last remark. Surely I could do better. After all, I was at Cambridge now, and it was about time I started producing profound observations on such matters. I stared at the buildings again. Most of them had doors, but that wasn’t much better. I was no architect, but the buildings had a few too many windows for my liking. Yes, too many windows. Maybe that was symbolic of the importance of an open mind, or clear thinking, or something deep like that. Great point, Josh. I wondered if it was too late to transfer to a philosophy degree.  

The Cambridge Diaries: A Tale of Friendship, Love and Economics is available in print format.