Friday, February 5, 1982


Most of the other people in the hotel at breakfast seemed to be Watermouth interviewees. I met a girl who was also there for American Studies. Afterwards, I wandered along the sea-front, the sea a gentle grey-green swell looking exciting and full of promise.

The bus station was silent and empty: I caught the 828 along with other obvious students and we were soon there.

As we got off I met a neatly dressed lad from Debdenshaw in suit and winkle pickers who was also there for an AS interview and he was really friendly: we started to talk about the course and other universities. He plays bass in a group (à la Cabaret Voltaire), is going to see Rip Rig and Panic at Debdenshaw. Uni., and he also likes some jazz. We checked in at Arts Block C and were ushered into the American Studies Common Room to wait, where there a few people discussing politics and reading Marxism Today. . . .

Watermouth University is enormous, much bigger than Brynmor, and it's almost like a miniature city. It seems much more pose-y than Brynmor but it also feels more organised and serious somehow and, as I soon discovered to my growing unease, more appealing. I was very impressed and somehow can see myself there more easily than I can Brynmor. I ended up quite struck on the idea.

My new friend Neil Dickinson had his interview at 10.30 and came back looking shell-shocked. At 11.30 we all had a lecture on how the cuts affect Watermouth and what the course structure will be, etc., and at midday I left for my interview.

My interviewer was Jonathan Adam, who was youngish and informal. I apologised for my scruffy combat jacket, jeans, and T-shirt, especially since all the other interviewees were wearing jackets and ties, but he said it was OK. “It will probably stand you in good stead at Watermouth, anyway.” Why had I chosen American Studies? Waffly, uncertain guff from me about dominant cultures, unusual courses, basic interest, etc. Then he asked me about my History course, and asked two specific questions about the Russian Revolution and Stalin, basically to see how I talked I think.

—“I see you've put Kerouac and the Beats down on your UCCA form. Among my generation, Kerouac was the fashionable author, but that's not so much the case nowadays. Why are you interested in him?”

—“Well basically, although I realize he’s not exactly an academic favourite, . . .”

—“. . . his time will come . . .”

—“. . . I enjoy reading his books and find that, if I dare say it, he describes things, writes about things, which I personally have often thought about. To see this written down is really interesting. . . .”

. . . and so on.

Then, with my newfound desire to go to Watermouth uppermost in my mind, he gave me some really bad news: Art is a ‘non-approved’ ‘A’-level as far as Watermouth is concerned, basically because of the practical element. Why this should be he didn’t know, but I was annoyed that we'd never even been told this by anyone at school or at Watermouth up until now. What if all my five choices had had this policy? This really pissed me off and I left the interview in two minds once again. . . . Neil was waiting in the Common Room and we left for Watermouth.

We walked briskly to his hotel so he could change and then went back on to the Wimpy for some dinner, a quick stroll on the sea front and finally back to the bus station for three. He wished me good luck and was gone. We'd got really very friendly in our five hours together. A good lad. I bought a Melody Maker and discovered that the first ever Easterby Jazz Festival will be on at the Polytechnic at the end of March.

My bus got to London at 5.30 and I finally made it home at eleven o’clock. . . . Dad was waiting in the car. Unlike yesterday I actually enjoyed myself and wasn’t constantly yearning for home; if things are like this in October I shall be OK.

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