Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for a night out. I dreamt in lockdown of Fever’s fluffy faux-velvet walls, those sweaty mirrors dripping with condensation, those unexpectedly Bacchic Tuesday nights in Michaelmas and Hilary. As great as it was to actually have a fully-fledged social life in my first year, full of thrills and late night antics, I’ve come to recognise how chaotic that life really was.
In this stripped back age of constant COVID restrictions, this tough, grey, slog of masks, gel and semi-existence, we long for our golden age in a now distant hedonistic past… Park End on a Wednesday, Bridge on a Thursday, maybe even a cheeky trip to Hanks. Who knew where the night would take us? We were young and wild and free. But now I look back and think how ridiculous it all was, queueing for Bridge in the rain only to get in once everyone had left, pay 27-quid for a Jägerbomb, and proceed to drive yourself into the ground the night before a 9am tute. How much do we miss that life?
Contrary to what we might think, COVID has brought people together, not torn them apart.
If you’re the sort of strange, superhuman beast that can plough on through the next day with 4-hours sleep and a crippling Lambrini hangover from a booze-fueled crew date, then maybe this sedate, anaesthetised existence of 10pm curfews and the rule of six isn’t for you. But for me at least, I have glimpsed a better life, a healthier, more stable and productive life. And I’m not saying I’m a monk; there’s still the odd night out in Cowley, the Black Swan, and the James Street tavern being the main drinking holes (or Spoons if we’re feeling more raucous). The lads suit up for formal night on a Saturday just as we did before, then we hit the town like nothing’s changed. Who needs more than six fun friends to actually have a good time?
Contrary to what we might think, COVID has brought people together, not torn them apart. Yes it’s true, the freshers have had it rough. Watching them all trying to make conversation at meal times through Perspex screens is disheartening and dystopian to say the least. But for a second year living in college accommodation in Cowley, yet to be overwhelmed by COVID (fingers crossed), life isn’t too shabby. There are no clubs to be peer pressured into going to, no one ever has that Oxford look of exhaustion which was so familiar last year, and the friendships we made last year in college have been made stronger through the shared experience of COVID life. Having spent much of the Spring and Summer in lockdown, we hanker after the social and even the people we didn’t think to talk to last year that we are so grateful to see and to have in our lives. Perhaps in your lives also, people are kinder, people are looking out for each other; perhaps you’ve made an unlikely friendship.
COVID may have turned us into frugal, ascetic creatures, clinging onto the halcyon days of 2019, wistfully looking back on memories of better times, hoping for the light at the end of the tunnel. But the tunnel isn’t dark. Appreciate the friends you have, the treasures of Oxford on your doorstep, and reap the rewards of the next hung-under day.
Image Credit: Pikrepo