Pret a Etudier
Arrive at the library alone for a few hours of solid reading. Find a seat amongst the silent and assiduous readers of the 3rd floor and unpack.
Halfway through my first page, my phone pings. I must have forgotten to put it on silent — whoops! Anyhow, the girls are all going to Pret for their third coffee of the afternoon, and I simply must be there. How can a girl focus on the development of One Direction stan culture if she’s suffering from FOMO? I’ve been telling my Oxbridge friends (wannabes) for years how intense study is at St Andrews, and I think that has to be borne in mind.
About to pack up in order to leave, I realise how important my studying is. There’s no way I can cede my place — I arrived just in time to claim the last of the first floor’s walled-off cabinets, those hallowed spaces of peaceful study. Disregarding all decency, I leave my stuff strewn across the desk. Who cares!? I’ll be totally back within, like, two hours.
On my way out I spot the boy I snogged in the Union last night. Awks! We could have gone further but I went back to his place and saw he had black bed sheets. It was the most intense ick I’d had for a long time, perhaps since Bartholemew threw his Carling up inside my mouth and I got my dad to file a civil case against him at the High Court. Memories!
Bump into Tabitha from my tutorial on Muttoes Lane – standing together, blocking the full width of the lane, we lament together over the artificiality and stupidity of some people in this town, the utter torment of last night’s hangover, and how much reading we’ve been given for this week’s seminar. We bond over the workload that is destroying our social lives: it taints with guilt all Pret trips, mani-pedis, and spa sessions. Oh well, as mummy used to tell me, good things come in small packages (usually with Chanel printed on the front)!
Meet all the girls at Pret (rather, at the end of the queue, so outside on Market Street). We discuss what drinks we’re going to order as we unsheath our subscriptions. Mildred tells us how she might have to cancel because her daddy’s stocks, like, totally crashed last month. I tell her that’s, like, so unfair, but that she should definitely join us at Down To Funk to drown her sorrows. I’m thinking of branching out from my usual oat mocha, so I ask Annaliese what she’d recommend. Apparently, she tells me, I must get a shot of caramel to really enhance the drink.
After the snaking odyssey of the Pret queue, it’s our turn to order. I’m trying to be healthy so go for a skinny oat mocha with just one shot of caramel. I opt for a ginormous blueberry muffin on the side. What is life without a bit of self-love? Zazz orders a decaf soy latte with cosmic fairydust, and Di (short for Aphrodite, which is just such a quirky name) a double-shot chocolate Frappuccino with extra cream and caviar. After a succession of orders, utilising the full range of Pret’s ingredients and machinery, the barista tries to contain his eye-rolling. What a snob!
Drinks in hand, all eight of us head to the library. Back on Muttoes, we bump into another friend of ours, Annabelle, causing gridlock more severe than the M25 on a Friday afternoon. It’s fine though, because we just had to find out how her date with Sam from the rugby team went. He sounds like such a legend. Annabelle recounts to us how, upon failing first year for the 2nd time, Sam sank 42 pints before getting sectioned for incapacitating 18 men with a single punch. We all concur with each other: we just love bad boys. Annabelle decides to join us in the library.
Enter the library. We all agree that we have lots of important reading to get done, so must be on a silent floor for maximum productivity. Obviously, it’s imperative that we all sit together, so we head up to the 4th floor and search for a table. Halfway up the stairs, we bump into Jemima, who’s on her way down to Pret, and we all go around and show her our coffees, each pitching our drinks as if we’re on Dragon’s Den. With Jemima (and everyone else on the staircase) clued up on Pret’s coffee menu, we proceed on our journey to the 4th floor.
En route, I realise my sticker-laden Macbook is still sitting lonesomely on floor 3. In a state of total histeria I zoom across the room, dashing in front of the queue that has now formed for an available library space, and grab my maccy. Nothing feels better than making people wait on me. On the way to the stairs, I take a quick selfie and tell my Instagram followers how much the situation made me want to die.
Reunited, my friends and I all (somehow) manage to find seats relatively close to one another. Cosmopolitan’s weekly horoscope tells me that the Mercury Retrograde is going to inspire productivity and send a new man my way — the library is the ideal location for both! Glancing around, I spot a super hot guy on the table across from me. Cosmo’s right again! North Face puffer jacket? Tick. Mullet? Tick. Baggy cords? Tick. Maybe I’ll see him at Down to Funk tonight, I think to myself, and begin to manifest that he doesn’t have black bed sheets.
AirPods in. It’s time to decide what music I fancy today. Taylor Swift, obviously, but which album? This is almost trickier than ordering in Pret, so I let Buzzfeed decide for me: their “Which Taylor Swift Album Are You” quiz is amaze. After choosing between colours, items of clothing, and foods, the quiz tells me I’m “Speak Now”. Wow, I think to myself, how accurate this is — Buzzfeed quizzes just get me. I send the link to the quiz on the group chat, since it’s so important to know which Taylor Swift album your friends are. Zazz is “1989”, and Di is “Lover” (so quirky!).
I finish the page of reading I started earlier. Suddenly, all our phones make a simultaneous chime (I forgot to put my phone on silent again - mortified!). Everyone around us looks up with disdain – do they not know that it’s the most important part of the day? BeReal time!
The girls and I look at each other excitedly, wondering which precise angles will best capture our Prets, reading, and each other. We obviously need to have our coffees in our hands and a frown on our faces so that everyone can see how tiring and cumbersome our afternoon has been so far.
After a good five minutes of capturing — and recapturing — our very authentic BeReals, we put our heads down for some more reading. Sylvia coughs so loudly I can’t stop myself; I squeal out in laughter — Silv is just too funny. Recovering from totally losing it over Sylvia’s hilarious coughing fit, I get my vape out and take a quick puff. Blueberry and tarmac flavour today! A girl adjacent to me notices the dissipating vapour and gives me a questioning glance. Um, judgemental much? I resolve to throw my vodka cran over her if I ever see her on a night out. I’m such a Scorpio!
Our phones chime once more. Oh well, I think, trying my hardest to block out the modicum of self-awareness I’m on the cusp of feeling. If other library-goers had a social life as good as mine, I’m sure their phones would be going off non-stop too. It’s a notification from the group chat. Sam the rugby boy wants to meet Annabelle in an hour for a romantic walk on the beach. Panic ensues. We exchange worried stares across the floor and immediately start packing up. Annabelle invites us all to her flat so that we can help her pick out an outfit.
Rush out. On our way to Annabelle’s flat we form a prayer circle around the PH and manifest that Sam the rugby boy is an Aries. Annabelle says there is absolutely no way she can go out with someone of a different star sign — she wouldn’t dare date anyone Cosmopolitan says she’s not compatible with! That’s, like, totally not allowed. All in all, a productive afternoon!
Illustration: Lauren McAndrew