University Years

University was something you did after grammar school, there wasn't much of a decision to make. Unlike today, where I am sure kids are far more aware of the opportunities available, we just followed our noses - I hadn't much of a clue at all. I had found geography relatively easy at school so I stuck that down on my UCCA application and got on with my hobbies. Amazingly, I passed enough A levels to get a place at Nottingham University in 1975. There were far fewer universities then, that was before Polytechnics and colleges all started calling themselves universities. Nottingham not only had a good academic reputation, it also has a superb parkland campus and is close to all the action of a vibrant Midlands city. We had real luck with the finances - I had a grant, which I didn't have to pay back, and wonders, it covered everything I needed. Beer was 20p a pint, and 10 weeks accommodation, all meals, laundry, cleaning and facilities in a hall of residence was £90. Putting aside a modest amount for books, stationery and basic clothing, the rest could be spent on fun.

Looking back, we were a fairly serious lot. The student power and love-ins of the sixties were in the past, and we had not discovered fashion, lifestyle, and gadgets that were to come in the eighties and nineties. There were no Starbucks, or even McDonald's at that time. We drank instant coffee and cheap beer and never felt the need to spend a lot. We all wore jeans and sweatshirts and studied hard in the library. Or were supposed to. I actually did just enough work to convince my tutor I was doing OK, and spent as much time as possible not doing anything at all academic. A cold realisation dawned in my last term but one, that Finals were coming and I would have to earn a living soon. I shifted up to fifth gear, worked solidly day and night for the last few weeks and gained an Upper Second BA Honours. This totally infuriated my then girlfriend who had spent three years being very swotty and achieved exactly the same result. Those three years had passed very pleasantly in a rather cocooned world, but now I would have to find a job.

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