The day I’ve been dreading for a month! It started early – I was woken up at twenty past seven – and I don’t mind admitting I felt sick with anxiety and sheer nerves. I was quite reluctant about setting off at 8.15 because that would mean facing up to all the EGS people who trail past our house every morning in my new jacket with my slick grey trousers on.
Dad volunteered to take me down in the car (he was on at nine), so I slipped into the car when the coast was clear. He parked near Farnshaw market place (by the Squash Centre) and walked down to the station with me. I felt like a condemned man as I walked into the train station. I’d never been to Farnshaw station before (I wasn’t missing much) and I had a fair wait till a quarter-to when I went across to the booking office.
Sure enough, Vicky Miller and parents were there – her mum is a small, brown-haired woman (I quite liked her) and her dad looked oldish (in his fifties).
We walked up to Platform 5 where the train was due. I didn’t speak much; I just sat there staring across at the opposite embankment where two small rabbits were hopping in and out of the blackberry bushes.
The train for Whincliffe came at 9.05 and we boarded. It was full of early morning commuters so I had to stand. We arrived in Whincliffe at 9.47 and we immediately went to the Passenger Information office where I found that our train to Birmingham left platforms 8 a, b at 10.48.
So we sat in stony silence for one whole hour – just near enough to show we were together but too far away to give the impression of intimacy. I bet people thought she was my girl-friend and that we had fallen out!
The train came at twenty five past so we sat in until departure. We didn’t speak at all during the journey down. Vicky sat by the window and stared at the passing scenery so I took stock of the people around me.
After calling at Sheffield we got into Birmingham at about 1.35. I don’t like train stations anyway, but Birmingham was really big, dark and unfriendly. After wandering around hopelessly looking for somebody to ask where and when the Oxford train departed from I asked a porter.
The train came into platforms 10a, b at 1.45 and after a similar journey we reached Oxford by about 3.20, after 4½ hours of train journeying.
I queued about twenty minutes for information about train times back (a one o’clock through to Whincliffe leaves tomorrow) and then, after a bit of chaos, we finally found Jesus College, Oxford. I had a bit of a surprise – all the other blokes there were wearing normal clothes – one lad had a faded khaki combat jacket and patched up jeans – while I was there in really stiflingly smart outfit. I stuck out a bit. Most of the other forty-odd were at the end of their first year at A-levels so age wise too, Vicky M. and I were odd. We felt a bit overawed I suppose and left out when we had informal tea in the Junior Common Room.
Some of the tutors talked to us though and introduced us to other people. We had a talk about admissions procedures, Dinner in the Great Hall, and then a talk about courses available at the College.
The College itself seems pretty good. It is quite small (about 280 undergraduates) and probably really intimate. Architecturally it is superb (especially in comparison to U. York) and Oxford itself (eg. narrow streets etc) reminds me of the latter.
Anyway, at least today is over – I’ve got to get up at eight tomorrow and with a bit of luck we’ll be away by 1230.
One thing that struck during the last lecture was that I’ll really be homesick if I go to University. I know I will. To lose forever that home situation that I’m in now and suddenly be thrown into the adult world – I take it too much for granted.
As I write this, it is 1024. I’m in my room (19-11) laid on the bed (which needs covers and sheets putting on), listening to the sounds of other people outside. I can’t wait to get home again.