A letter from the 18 year old me…

OK, this mornings challenge, to write an application to a university with the assumption that you are 18 years of age again and with no concept of what life will hold for you in future – its in response to news this week that the current crop of 18 year olds who have to write an application to be considered for a university place (I never knew that, how long has that been going on ?) might have an advantage if they come from posh private schools rather than your local comprehensive, as posh private students tutors often give them hints on how to do it, well waft me down with a feather, who’d-a’thunk-it ?

The Observer have done it here

First I must declare a non-interest, the closest that I ever came to attending a university is that I knew someone who genuinely did go to a university.

I was also sent to technical college by my employer and so earned myself a student union card which I got for free instead of paying for it because Tids Liddle was working in the student union office the day I called, he tried to ignore me but you don’t turn down a chance to play “Its not what you know but who you know” when the alternative is to have to pay 50p for a membership card.

With that students union card I could go to gigs at Leeds University and, erm, thats it, thats as close as I got to a university education, I knew some people who went to university and I went to some gigs there – and my technical college education didn’t go very well either, they did everything but change the locks on the front door to encourage me not to go back there after just one term.

So we start on the back foot, truth is I would never have applied to go to university at 18 years of age for when I was 18 years of age universities were for those who were pursuing “professional” qualifications, the lads in our school who went to university were in a small minority but became doctors, architects and experts in the new science of computer programming, I still deign to talk to them from time to time, no chips on my shoulder.

I did one year of A levels purely because I couldn’t think of anything else to d0, most of my classmates went into employment at 16 but I just sort of stayed, went into the sixth form because it had free coffee and, well, that was the reason really – they asked me to leave the sixth form towards the end of the first year – can you see a pattern emerging here ?

After it had been decreed that I shouldn’t ever cross the threshold of the sixth form block again, a decree that I upheld on my part and one which I am delighted to report as I have outlived the sixth form block by a number of years to date, it being demolished in recent years and good riddance to it too, even though it was partly built on my 11 year-old fundraising 25 mile sponsored walk, or as we who were press ganged into the event by the headmaster prefer to call it, our forced march.

I am also shocked to calculate that my 18th birthday occurred in September 1974, my god I never realised that I was that old, 1974 is like, well, ages ago, we still pointed to the skies when airplanes flew over, we still went on holidays in this country, if you wanted to ring a mate to go somewhere you had to find a phone box that worked and ring his neighbour (the one in his street who had a phone in their house) and ask them to pass a message on, email was done by sticking a stamp on your email and putting in a post box then waiting for several days for the reply and only women typed.

Just as an aide-memoire for me, this is what was happening in the months around my 18th birthday…

Brian Clough was sacked by Leeds Utd after less than two months in the job, because he was a twat and none of the players liked him, none of the supporters liked him and later on even the directors said they didn’t like him and couldn’t think of one good reason why they’d offered him the job in the first place other than he must have slipped something in their tea.

Ceefax was started by the BBC, Ceefax is a technology that completely passed me by, even when I was old enough to purchase a TV with Ceefax I never used it, preferring to walk down to the paper shop and buy a Radio Times, it being by far the quickest way to find out what was on telly tonight as Ceefax could take many hours to load a page and then when it did you’d find that the page you wanted was actually a chapter and you’d just missed the bit you wanted to read so would have to wait for another half hour for it to come around again.

Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, the IRA were bombing UK mainland pubs, clubs and members of parliament, Lord Lucan did a runner and was never seen again, MP John Stonehouse who had previously faked his own death was discovered in Australia where the police thought he was Lord Lucan, inflation was at 17.2%, petrol coupons were issued in preparation for rationing and CAMRA’s first Good Beer Guide was released as a slim pamphlet to cover the whole of the UK due to the influx of shite beer throughout the land.


Right, I’ve got a handle on the era now, so here is what my application to a university at the age of 18 would have looked like…

Dear Chancellor of the University,

I realise of course that my O levels were not the highlight of my school career, and only completing half of my A level course is hardly going to make you sit up and think that I am your “must-have” student for this years intake, and to be honest I only took that Geography A level because my mates were doing it and they told me that there was a week long field trip to Cornwall in the first year and there were some fit birds on the course too, the field trip was a good laugh.

And I’m not really sure what I want to study at your university because to be honest, even though I am 18 years of age I haven’t a clue what it is that I want to do with my life, not the first idea, no ambitions, no pushy parents insisting that I be a doctor, no desire to do anything except arrive at the weekend again with five quid in my pocket to buy beer with, I don’t suppose you have any courses that will cover that skill do you ?

I don’t like studying, hate reading technical journals, cannot abide academic works, always look in the back of a tutorial book to see if they’ve listed the answers, but could probably turn up on a Friday afternoon with five quid in my pocket ready to start the weekend, in this I think I could be an asset to your establishment if you can find a space for me – any random course will do, I won’t be doing the work anyway.

should I be unsuccessful in my application then don’t feel too bad about it, I’ll probably just turn up at the students union every friday afternoon anyway, you couldn’t knock off a union card for me could you ?



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