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Diary of a student, aged 62 and three quarters. By Nicola Foote

Blog | By Nicola Foote | Nov 03, 2020


15 October

University of York is in the national press. How exciting. Apparently it’s issued guidance to students, saying that, if the fire alarm goes off and you’ve got Covid-19, to let the Covid-free students leave first. So if it’s not bad enough that you’ve got the dreaded virus, you’ve also got an increased risk of burning to death. I’m quite pleased I’m not living on campus.

21 October 2020

I’ve forgotten to put my bins out. It doesn’t really matter as there’s virtually nothing in them, as I’ve been so busy of late. This, I think, is a GOOD THING, certainly compared to six months ago when putting the bins out was one of the highlights of the week.

I’ve remembered to feed the dog, possibly twice. And my car passes its MOT without a single advisory. It’s in really good condition apparently. Never cleaning it must protect the paintwork.

Next stop Asda, to pick up a few essentials for if the dreaded virus gets me. Unlike the Proper Students on campus, I won’t be getting a food parcel if it does. Neither do I have parents to help me out. As I arrive at Asda, I notice that there’s a warning on my car to say the bonnet’s open. Sitting on the bonnet didn’t sort the problem; it was still loose. It took me twenty minutes to work out how to open it to close it again, and that was with the handbook. Perhaps that’s the other trick to passing the MOT, never open the bonnet.

I am initially confused when I try to dump my trolly as the trolly hut is now a drive through flu vaccination centre. It appears they’ve just taken the Perspex panel out of the middle and you drive through it a bit like a car wash, but without the water I’m assuming.

I’m not quite sure what to do with the trolly now so I just abandon it. When I was at Warwick forty years ago, the campus was overrun with abandoned supermarket trollies, which we’d used to bring alcohol and occasionally food back from the nearby Sainsbury’s. About once a week, Sainsbury's would send a van over and collect them, at least those that hadn’t been artistically hung from trees, or buried under grass with their wheels emerging like sweet pea seeds sprouting. Or written off in trolly races, or crammed into rooms during the “how many Sainsbury's trolleys can you fit in your room” competitions. Eventually Sainsbury's introduced the coin in the trolley system, the first in the U.K. I think. A pound in those days was five pints of cider in the Students’ Union, so the trolly theft promptly stopped.

I am running late for my Zoom seminar. Proper Students don’t have to put the bins out, or walk the dog, or MOT the car, or get confused in Asda car park. Or presumably even get out of bed during these virus-riddled times. I change my top (but not my bottoms, it is Zoom after all), brush my hair, put on lipstick and position the screen. I can’t get Zoom to work. Bugger.

28 October 2020

I am so, so busy, far too busy for cleaning or exercising. The dog’s getting fat and so am I. Everything at home seems to be breaking. In common with a lot of the universities the infection rate at York has been pretty high – 1500/100,000 according to my calculations – so there’s no face to face teaching at the moment.

Uni is seeming like lots of work and none of the fun. I rather belatedly remember that I didn’t particularly enjoy any of the work first time around, rather the dancing and drinking and “banter” as I believe it’s described these days. I’m getting none of that, or indeed any personal contact. Others feel the same. I’m considering switching to part time in the hope that the second year might be lurgy-free. It must be over by then, surely? It’s not looking good at the moment though.