Quad talk: ‘Failing my finals would make it so much simpler'
11:15am Friday 8th March 2013 in News
Huw Fullerton is struggling without a schedule for these final days at Oxford
As my final exams loom, one might assume that I would be knee-deep in books, with armfuls of crack arguments and a back pocket-full of pithy remarks set for my exams. But really, the only subject that’s been on my mind recently is an imaginary one: ‘An Introduction to Finality’. Essentially, that is an unnecessarily obtuse way to state a simple premise (I may be prepared for my exams after all): I’m slowly becoming aware that my time at Oxford is coming to an end.
Yes, in a few short months I will be unceremoniously spat back out into the Real World — I’ve heard it’s awful, and there’s hardly any pheasant. Every moment is now laced with a potential poignancy. I had my last birthday in Oxford in January.
A few weeks ago was the last fifth-week formal in the spring term that I’ll go to. This might be the last time I sit in this particular chair in hall, or go to a specific club night, or have a tutorial with a particular person.
The sense of transience and things moving on is deafening. The only problem is that so far I’m finding it difficult to know for certain whether anything is final.
This might be my last tutorial; but then again I think we have revision tutorials next term. Do they count?
I mean, this might be my last essay technically, but I still have coursework. I think that I can definitively state that after March 12 I’ll never have to footnote a critic again, but those halcyon days are not something that I think I’ll find so hard to let go of. For a brooding, emotionally complex person like me this is unacceptable.
If I’m going to feel a heady nostalgia for the specks of dusty memory floating in the sunbeams of days gone by, I want a schedule.
I need to know exactly how nostalgic I should be feeling at specific times, and how that should relate to other nostalgias. The last day that I live here is an obvious one, but what about the last day I’m actually studying here, and not just carting all my possessions back home?
What about the day I have to give in my student card, or the day that I last visit the library? The last day I swig claret and feel an unearned sense of pride in myself? (I’ll miss claret Tuesdays) I suppose the real fear behind this whimsy is that I won’t appreciate the momentous nature of my final moments of things here while they last; that I might just ‘do’ things and then only realise that they’re over afterwards. The obvious TV-show ‘moral’ of this is that if I’m doing things aware of their finality, I’m probably not experiencing them properly. Nostalgia before the fact is a bit ridiculous, and if I just focus on enjoying my last days here without their ramifications, then I’ll have much better memories. It’s just that I don’t want to be unappreciative of the limited time I have left in this great city. But I guess I just have to accept that there are no perfect endings. On the plus side, if I fail my exams I might have to come back here anyway . . .