I write this to you, dear reader, from the darkest depths of the library, a soothing can of Red Bull pressed firmly to my furrowed, sweating brow. It’s 1:42 am, and in a few minutes that obnoxiously loud, Big Brother-esque tannoy announcement is about to cause every one of the assorted lost souls of the second floor to visibly flinch with its invariably startling “suggestion” that we make our way to the exit – presumably before they release the hounds. Work on a 4000-word IR assignment has, for now, stalled.
It is with a heavy heart that I pen this – my final piece as Viewpoint editor. Next semester will find me in the considerably warmer climes of sunny Istanbul, where I suspect most of my time will be taken up riding all those hot balloons and bartering livestock for textbooks.
The duty of assembling this fortnightly compendium of bold, provocative opinion, however, will fall to the more than capable hands of Ellen Ridsdale, whose writing frequent Viewpoint readers will be well acquainted with.
It’s strange, though, because the knowledge that I won’t be back in St Andrews until next Autumn has lent the last few weeks a particularly strong ‘end of term’ feel. My rose-tinted spectacles are perched firmly on the tip of my nose, and I’m already finding myself taking tentative glances through them. I’ve also started to take note of the little things that, up until now, I’ve largely taken for granted.
Take the process of submitting essays on MMS – a process which, if you’re anything at all like me, has been conducted in the last fortnight against the clock with buttocks tightly clenched and accompanied by a torrent of virulently offensive phrases aimed at your computer, iSaint and everyone in your life who ever told you that academia was a good idea.
Finicky and frustrating as it undoubtedly is, the sensation of successfully uploading that essay with mere seconds to spare is one which I like to describe as bordering on the post-coital. Snicker all you like, there’s no denying that uncanny flood of endorphins as the email from “fixit-mms” appears in your inbox. Crisis, for now, averted.
All those previous days and weeks of half-reading journal articles and “making mental notes” (academic foreplay, if you will); the rush of adrenaline as you begin the process of sustained, rigorous drafting; the frantic increase in intensity as the deadline looms. And then that smooth satisfaction upon clicking the submit button that makes you want to whip out a cigarette and pop something good on Netflix as reward for a job well done.
Best not to think about the fact you haven’t handed a physical copy in yet.
Something else I’ve come to notice – particularly as a result of the rigours of my third year – regards the library. Particularly the library toilets. Don’t get me wrong, the necessary amenities are all present and correct: they’re kept spotlessly clean and those little posters at the urinals must be a godsend for those whose attention span can’t quite stretch to the duration of a quick piss.
But they are awfully quiet, aren’t they? I mean, to the point of silence bordering on the torturous. Like most, I have made a point of habitually avoiding them whenever possible. But with the demands of Honours-level study and the necessarily more intimate relationship with the library, the call of nature has become increasingly difficult to refuse. And boy does nature seem to call loudly in those loos.
I’ll put it bluntly – it’s very hard to do the deed in a dignified manner when the venue resembles a recording studio in a church in, well, a library. Even the most discrete sounds feel like they are conveyed in full FLAC quality, Dolby 7.1 surround glory directly into the ear canals of all present. I recently found out that the library toilets are number seven or something on the St Andrews f**klist (a real thing, apparently, listing numerous novel venues around town for students to bump uglies). Heaven knows how anyone could possibly pull it off in those circumstances. Ahem.
When I began writing this, I did so in the vain hope that somewhere in the process my disparate thoughts would order themselves into some insightful, uplifting guide to life in St Andrews; something along the lines of Baz Luhrman’s Sunscreen Song that could act as a sort of editorial epitaph for me. I was first played that song when I left primary school, and it has held a special place in my heart at moments like this ever since.
Instead, it seems I have succeeded merely in crafting a poorly structured work of smut and besmirched the noble process of essay submission. Oh well, it’s that time of year, I suppose.
At least I can offer these few words of sage advice: always hand in essays on the brink of deadline, its far more fun; and avoid the library toilets at all costs. Or at least play some loud music on your phone when you do – the motivational Sunscreen Song, perhaps?