“When you arrive at Leeds Uni old chum you simply must be aware of a few faux pas.”
This could be the best piece of advice I received before university and, as I contemplate leaving, I feel I must impart it onto the next generation entering the fray at this fine establishment.
Lesson one is on semantics: Whilst you may be used to the term ‘alas’ being employed to denote frustrated displeasure whilst the user presses the back of their hand to their forehead, in Leeds it means simply ‘a woman’. This should be remembered to avoid situations like the following.
New Northern Housemate: “Ey Up, I were getting with this bird (another term simply for woman) last night.”
Me: “Oh yeah, who?”
Housemate: “a lass.”
Me: “chin up chum, better luck next time.”
(Obviously this didn’t happen to me but a friend of mine told me that it happened to a friend of his, most embarrassing for the poor chap.)
Lesson two: When people say that they live on an estate they might not be referring to a manor house with grounds and a small boating lake. In general I found that after acquiring this information you should ask where abouts their estate is located. A quick search on google maps will reveal the possibility of large land ownership or not and the conversation can be renewed without the danger of social embarrassment.
Lesson three is the most important: At university you must hold a strong aversion to all things private. This includes private healthcare, private education, private parts, railways, investigators and post offices. If asked what you think of the film “Saving Private Ryan” you must adamantly state your dislike for the film and say that they should have focused on saving public sector jobs instead. Anecdotally you could add that 85% of the beaches used in the film are now privately owned. And you hate that.
You may be asked whether you went to a private school and if this happens the first thing to do is not to panic. Try the line ‘mine was kind of like a grammar school’ and if they call you up on this talk immediately about the numerous scholarship and bursaries that were available. As a last resort you can tell them that your nursery and junior school were both state funded. I’ve found that even if this is a lie they very rarely fact check it.
Sure there are more lessons that I could teach you before you come to university. I could write you a whole essay on how much you’re going to have to pretend to care about the environment if you want to get any girls (I’d get a blooming first!). But there are some lessons you are going to have to find out for yourself. Good luck old chum. Remember, its only a few years, but get it wrong and that fagging you got at boarding school is going to seem like a walk in your park.