The Magic of Hall

A Quiet Night

Today was the last day for the undergraduate students in Hall, so yesterday was more-or-less our last day as Assistant Wardens until September.

I had psyched myself up for a big day. And it turned out not to be such a big day. The students were an awful lot quieter than we’d expected and one of my colleagues had got bad news and everything was just a bit more muted than I had expected.

It was so quiet that the Warden sent me home at 9:00 until 10:45.

At 10:45, we all met to clear out the last-day parties and quieten the place down and load people onto buses to nightclubs.

As myself and a colleague were crossing the lawn in front of Cunningham House, where I lived last year, we saw a Chinese girl standing on a chair, cleaning her window energetically and moving her hips and her head in time to some music we couldn’t hear. It seemed like a wonderful way to spend your last night in Hall.

The Boys of 87.01

We then got to the big courtyard, where my flat is, and where the house I’m responsible for (87) is, and we came across the boys of apartment 87.01 as they were leaving for the club. They were noisy and drunk. The boys of 87.01 are a good-looking, muscular set of first year lads’ lads, who I rarely spoke to when they were sober. Their kitchen was one of the dirtiest in all of Hall and they were noisy and boisterous. I suspect they all play rugby and live on protein shakes.

They lurched towards me, and started roaring drunkenly, and then two of them asked me if I could mention them in the blog. I’m really not very stealth at all. I knew a lot of the second years here read the blog, and I had been told that the first years on the Irish language scheme had also discovered it, but it didn’t occur to me that these big manly men would read it. One of them said to me,”Come on! You have to mention us, after we’ve spent a year reading it!” I agreed on condition they give me a hug, which they did, telling me I was “too nice” to be an Assistant Warden, and they marched off drunkenly clapping and chanting “We love the Project!” at the tops of their voices, and I ran to hide in House 90 for a minute while they left. I was embarrassed and delighted.

Now, boys, there’s your mention.

D2

The buses to the nightclub left. There was one final party to quieten down, which we did, and then that was it. No more Wardening for the year. I have to say I was disappointed.

We were on our way to bed, when we passed Oldham House (one of the ancient, crumbling, original buildings on site in Hall), where a sanctioned party was taking place. It was the JCR (the second years who “run” the student side of Hall) and their best buddies. And I, and first one and then two of the other Assistant Wardens, ran up the stairs to chat to them. They were getting drunk. I have a lot of time for the JCR and am a little bit in love with at least five of them.

One friendship this year that surprised me was with a second-year boy I’ll call D2. He is a straight guy from the midlands who is in the process of taking over the world. And on a number of occasions, he’s called up to my little flat, and sat between my many pictures of One Direction, and we’ve gossiped at length. He’s funny and fun and has an adorable little bottom and an accent a bit like Niall Horan from One Direction, and I’m going to miss him. I hugged him hard on the steps of Oldham House. And he hugged back. We chatted for a while and he made me sip from the disgusting mix of beer and vodka he was drinking.

D1

I really do like a lot of the second years I met this year and last year, but the last person who stayed with me and one of the other Assistant Wardens on the steps of Oldham House was a boy I’ll call D1, one of my Boys who lived with me last year, and one of the members of this year’s JCR.

D1 is the first person from Hall I remember meeting last year, in that awful kitchen in Cunningham House. He’s funny and kind and he’s one of the few people who make me want to be a better person. I always feel like he’s on my side and even though we’re very different, we have a lot in common. He’s another person who would call over to my flat for chats this year and I will miss him. He’s not even moving very far away, but I always liked knowing he was only in the next building to mine.

And even though he’s terrible at hugs, he hugged me goodbye and followed the other JCR guys to catch the last tram into town at half past midnight.

I, of course, couldn’t stop myself from crying a little as he left.

C1

I was left standing on the steps with one of the other Assistant Wardens, who I’ll call C1. She was the person who took responsibility for training me in to the job. She saw that I was crying and she gave me a hug too.

We got to chatting.

I remember the night last October when I really knew I was going to love being an Assistant Warden. It was after one of the ridiculous wine and cheese receptions we throw for the first years at the start of the year. And afterwards, a few of the JCR members and a few of the Assistant Wardens sat around chatting. And in the end, it was just myself and C1, sitting and chatting until four in the morning. And I knew that I could be just as happy as an Assistant Warden as I had been in Cunningham House in my Wilderness of Boys.

I’m sad that our Thursday night gang is being broken up and neither of the Assistant Wardens who worked with me most will be returning next year, but last night, I sat up and chatted to C1 until almost three in the morning and everything was right with the world.

And, as I returned to my own little flat in the middle of the night, two hoovers could be heard in flats around the big courtyard. Every penny of that deposit must be earned back!

Today

Today was even more anti-climactic. I saw the boys of 87.01 again and both they and I were more subdued. I saw D1 and D2, who were both hungover, before they left. And I ran into C1, who was “rescuing” items that students left behind them.

I myself am the owner of a new rolling pin, lamp, mixing bowl, measuring jug and frying pan, all left by departing students.

And eventually, having left the place looking like the aftermath of a drunken tsunami, all the students left.

There aren’t many lights left on in Trinity Hall tonight.

Being the sentimental old queen that I am, I did something I haven’t done all year. I took the master key and I went and sat in the kitchen in Cunningham House, where I lived last year with all the Boys. I sat there and had a few FEELINGS. I explored, seeing that the weird blue stain is still on the bath, but the shower has been re-tiled. The fridge door still bears traces of the graffiti that one of my Boys left drunkenly last year with a permanent marker. It said something like “It’s 3a.m. and I’m sitting here. Bitches I love you xx”. Now it’s just smudges. I sat in the kitchen for a few minutes.

And then I handed the master key back in and came home and wrote this.

I don’t feel bereft, like I did this day last year. I feel very loved, and privileged.

I no longer dread this summer. I’m ready. Tonight, I’m baking a cake for the Assistant Wardens end-of-year party tomorrow. And then I’ll put together my plan for the summer. I already have a starting point:

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