I/Mature Student. 1. Northumbria Uni. 1st impressions.

It’s enrolment week at Northumbria university. As I’m starting a degree in Drama and Script writing I’ve been advised to start a blog or keep a diary of my thoughts and experiences. It’s nice when you’re ahead of the curve.  So far I’ve only been picking up my student ID and been to a chat on the Library.

For a Uni that used to be a polytechnic Northumbria sits high on academic leagues.  The Library stands among the equal top 8 in the UK and yes that’s alongside the Oxbridge toffs. Having lived in Newcastle for 13 years this doesn’t surprise me. As a city with limited resources the Geordies are adept at looking after their own. They’ve thrown much effort into their newest centre for academic excellence and it’s nice to see so many working class kids being able to throw up two fingers to the supposedly more established Newcastle University which is just across the road. Did one of them produce the touchscreen  phone or I-Pad? No that was someone from my Uni, ta very much.

As a mature student of 46 years I will admit to feeling a wee bit isolated just now. You can see gangs of new friends and potential chlamydia catalysts forming all around me. But I haven’t actually met my fellow writer/performers yet. I am however headlining the student comedy night this week. Via this they will learn that their fellow alumni has been a professional performer/writer for 13 years. They’ll also discover I’m a Bi-Polar, former addict, political activist. Who once after a particularly harsh weekend on the rave and in dire emergency had to shit in their good friends cat litter tray because someone was in the shower. There you go kids that’s the competition.

Northumbria themselves also have a comedian on for fresher week. Matt Richardson is your typical Boyband, anodyne type, “Hey I’m an every day bloke. But what I really want to do is present.” Which he has. The Xtra Factor. You can make your own assumptions as to how informative or challenging his comedy noodling’s will be. On a brighter note Northumbria Uni is the place Bill Hicks played his last ever British show. There is a glimmer of hope. I’m just looking forward to see if they have a comedy society. And if not why not.

As for my own observations on my fellow alumni. There are a hell of a lot of them gazing into idiot lanterns (mobile phones) This quick fix entertainment is one of the things that has killed live comedy/entertainment in the UK. I look forward to the coming backlash when more switched on youngsters throw up arms and say, “What you watch it on a screen. No fuckwit…YOU’VE GOT TO SEE IT LIVE!”

And the one heartening and funny thing I overheard was from a group of three lads. One imparting this bon mot to his pals, “You see if you do coke all night and then take a Valium in the morning…what you want to do after that is get home quick as you can for a wank.”

Wise words indeed for a young man already living beyond his years. I just hope he makes it. On listening to that we bit of advice it made me realise it’s much better that I’m starting my higher education now than when I was his age.



Author: Mind Palaver

John and Elle are two voices, among many, advocating and living with acute mental health conditions.

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