The Malcontent’s Message to Freshers

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Dear Freshers,

You are nothing to me. I don’t care what you’re called, I don’t care where you’re from, I don’t care what you’re studying, and most of all, I don’t care that getting into Oxford is ‘like the best thing’ that’s ever happened to you. Oh, you thought you had messed up your interview? Wow, that’s a unique reaction to being grilled by world experts. But even if your interview for medicine culminated with the tutor tearing out his own ribcage and asking you to save him, I still don’t care.

Maybe, back home, going to Oxford’s a big deal. Perhaps, when people ask you where you will be studying, you shrug nervously and giggle ‘Oxford’ in some specious display of modesty. Well, guess what? The fact you’re studying at Oxford means nothing… in Oxford. You are now the lowest of the low. The earthworm in our food-chain. The Liberal Democrat in our coalition. The Australian in our medal tally.

I know what you expect from your Oxford career. You think you’ll become Prime Minister, invent a cure for ginger hair and translate War and Peace into Sumerian, all while downing thirty jäger-bombs a night and indulging in bedroom conquests that make Hugh Hefner look like Ann Widdecombe. You picture Freshers’ Week to be seven days of sexual blitzkrieg, given an air of class by the grandiose surroundings, as if Berlusconi had hired Julian Fellowes to organise one of his bungabunga parties.

Dream on. In reality, you’re going to make awkward and repetitive conversation with a group of awkward and repetitive strangers. Then you’re going to do some shots of something that tastes like boot polish mixed with putrefied sea cucumber. In your mind, this will turn you into a social divinity; the perfect lovechild of James Bond and Michael McIntyre (whose conception would really make Skyfall an incredible piece of cinema). But, in reality, those tequilas will transform an already nerdy and largely unpleasant individual into a sweating, swearing, staggering, molesting, vomiting implosion of a human being. You’re going to appal everyone you meet, hit on your eighty-two-year-old tutor, then wake up the next morning with Old Man Bridge wrapped around you, and the shocking realisation that you’ve been at Oxford one night, and they’ve already set you work.

So, enjoy Freshers’ Day. Enjoy the grinding years of work that follow. Enjoy the unemployment after that. And, most of all, enjoy the fact that you are a boring and irrelevant Fresher and I will feed you to a college tortoise if you so much as look at me.

Welcome to Oxford.