Orientation

I’ve come to the end of my first weekend as Assistant Warden. And I love it. Even though I keep messing up.

Some of the things that haven’t gone well include the general meeting of half of the residents of Hall (500 students). I was introducing myself on stage, when the Warden turned to me and hissed to say something in Irish, and in my panic I stammered an eight-word sentence that included both grammatical and factual inaccuracies. When meeting the second half of the student body, my Irish was fluent and flawless. Of course, the meeting that the Irish-speaking students were told to go to was the first and not the second. Of course.

At the same meeting, the Warden asked me to open the back doors of the hall, as it was very hot. I went to the back doors. I pushed the left door. It made a loud noise, but didn’t budge, so I tried the right. No luck. I pulled instead of pushing. It didn’t work. I tried both doors at once. Every attempt made a lot of noise, and 500 pairs of eyes bored into the back of my neck. These eyes belonged to the students who are expected to come to me for advice and whom I am expected to discipline. Eventually, after I had given up, the Warden leaned over to another Assistant Warden and asked him to open the door. He walked down and it opened first time for him. I had just failed at opening a door. In front of 500 students.

I also ended up being responsible for directing traffic for about two hours on arrivals day. During the course of this, the Warden, another Assistant Warden, a security guard and at least three parents lost their cool with me. I created more than one traffic jam.

While directing traffic, I got sunburnt. One of my new colleagues, however, thought I just blushed a lot. It would appear I had a lot to blush about. I am administering the Irish-speaking scheme and yet seem incapable of stringing together a coherent sentence in Irish. I cause traffic jams. And I am unable to open doors.

Another blow on Friday was an email from the speed-dating host to say that I didn’t get any matches. I had put “yes” for seven different guys. Grrh! Now, on the night, I know I was at my most interesting, funny and charming. I obviously just don’t got the sexy, or I don’t have it when in “normal” company at any rate. I’ve already put my name down for the next speed-dating session (in October), though. This is a game I refuse to lose at.

Some things this weekend have left me very, very happy. I went to see Lady Gaga on Saturday. She unleashed a bucket of crazy all over us. I wore a glittery pink feather boa and a set of mini disco balls. In her words, I sang my pussy off. She gives very good show.

On Friday, it was wonderful to see the new people arriving. I saw parents crying. And a few children (now newly-fledged adults) gulping. It’s an incredible day. The population of Hall goes from about 50 to about 1000. There are people running everywhere. You look through windows and you see frying pans on beds, duvets on kitchen tables and young people in their best Dublin tracksuits getting to know their new flatmates in the kitchen. There’s an amazing buzz.

And the buzz at 10:00 that night, when you load 750 drunk teenagers onto buses to nightclubs, is unbelievable. There was more lifeforce sloshing around me on Friday than there has been for three long months and I loved it.

It’s been a busy weekend, but a wonderful one.

And I love coming home to Trinity Hall again. All summer long, it’s been rubbish. I’ve been coming home to a silent campus and locking myself alone in my room.

Now, I come into Hall and there’s a constant murmur. I have a job here, and everyone knows my name. Students come to me with questions. I come into my lovely flat, with all my nice things around me for the first time in over eighteen months and I cook a dinner like a grown-up. Yesterday, I had lamb, with potato, roast veg and pepper sauce. Like a real person again. I have a TV again. I have a fridge again. I’m getting on well with my colleagues (and a considerable helping of wine on Friday night really helped with that). And two of my Boys are living in Hall. I come home and I feel safe, just knowing that they’re there.

I’m in a really good place. And I’m looking forward to the year ahead.

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