Today I will leave Cheltenham for the penultimate time. The next time I leave Cheltenham with all my stuff and return to Cirencester will be when I move out of my student house and go back to Cirencester. For good.
In moving out of Cheltenham I say goodbye – possibly for the final time (but hopefully not) – to some of my closest friends, a group of people who have made me the person I am today.
After waking up at 05:00 on the dot (my body clock is already on Greek time), I lay in bed for a good 20 minutes reflecting on the 9 months I’ve lived in this house.
In the 3 years I’ve been at university, the last 9 months have perhaps been the time I’ve changed the most.
This is the first year I’ve lived with radio students – the first year I’ve lived with people I already know. This has certainly had an effect.
Last year was more like living in halls – I kept myself to myself. I stayed in my room all the time (I ate in there, worked in there, etc). This all started to change quite quickly after I moved in to the place I am now. I was able to rearrange the furniture, I have never once locked my bedroom door (I don’t feel the need to here – I trust those I live with) – in fact I only ever shut it when I go to bed.
The first few weeks living here, I still ate in my room; I did all my work in my room; I watched iPlayer and DVDs in my room, but didn’t watch much in the way of TV. The sitting room was just a room I passed through in order to get to the kitchen or upstairs.
The time things started to change was about a month after moving in. The first time I used the TV in this place was to watch the Conservative Party Conference in October. (No surprises there).
Not long after that, I felt confident enough to not stay in my room the whole time, but instead would sit in the sitting room while my housemates were watching TV – even if the programmes weren’t my cup of tea: I just enjoyed listening to their conversations – occasionally taking part in them myself!
My use of the sitting room grew over the next few months – it is now basically my office. I’ve abandoned the desk in my room. That’s now become a bedside table containing my reading light, book, a glass of water…as well as my watch and glasses, both of which I only take off when I go to bed.
BUT… The first few months of 2014 are when I started to come out of my shell much more.
There was a programme on BBC Radio 4 about four or five years ago in which two people with Asperger’s Syndrome were interviewed; one of them spoke about how he has friends at work, he gets on well with them, but doesn’t really socialise with them outside of the work environment – because outside of work, they have no common interests.
I have always been very much the same with my school, college and university friends. I’ve always considered the radio lot as ‘friends’, just as I have all the people I went to school and college with. However I’ve only recently started to socialise with the radio lot outside of university.
To this day, I have never socialised with any of my school/college friends outside of the classroom: the only ones I have spoken to since leaving school and college are the ones whose professional lives have crossed with mine – such as Mayor of Cirencester Cllr. Joe Harris coming to the Corinium Radio studio.
As I lay in bed listening to Classic FM shortly after 5 this morning, I was thinking about the above, an wondering: What was the turning point this year for me?
The biggest event, in my view, was running for Students’ Union President. It might sound strange, but I think it did have quite an effect.
Up until that point, I had joked several times that ‘maybe I should run for President’. The response was often a ‘you’d be quite good at that’. I don’t think anyone thought I’d actually follow through with it, and actually officially enter the race to become Students’ Union President.
This was all around the time I was making my alliegence to the Conservative Party more widely known, having converted to a full time LBC listener just a few weeks earlier – being now a regular listener to broadcasters like Nick Ferrari, Iain Dale, Andrew Castle (later replaced by Andrew Pierce) and David Mellor.
What running for Students’ Union President did was 1) Increase my confidence in talking to others greatly, 2) Although I didn’t win, it became clear to me that the people who do support me value what I do and the way I do it more than I realise.
In a way, I sort of think people may have started taking me more seriously as a result of me taking part in the election campaign – as opposed to just standing at the side and criticising or making jokes, as is too easy to do sometimes.
It just goes to show winning isn’t everything: It’s the taking part that counts!
It’s taken me almost two hours to write this blog. Apologies for it being so long – though as I’m sure you can imagine, at the moment there are two things on my mind: The fact that I am leaving Cheltenham in 9 days, and the fact that I go to Greece for 6 weeks in 11 days.
I leave you with a Boris Johnson quote – which I think is quite relevant to how I interact with my friends at university…
If we judged everybody by the stupid, unguarded things they blurt out to their neareast and dearest, then we wouldn’t ever get anywhere.
Boris might be thought of as a bit of a ‘class clown’ – but he’s a sensible bloke really.
Bye for now.