Thursday, February 05, 2009

On Not Remembering 1989

On Not Remembering 1989

Walking through Goldsmiths, which is emblazoned with homemade Socialist Student posters, we are talking about the militancy of its students. Of which, as aloof Postgrads, we do not include ourselves. We spend far too much time drinking coffee and contemplating our proverbial navels for that.

"It's not something I've ever encountered, I mean at Oxford they protested but not like this..."

It is true, Goldsmiths is a whole new level.

"What did they protest about at Oxford?". There is just enough incredulity about it to keep me on my toes.

"Well, tuition fees was the big one when I was there".

It was all 'gold ribbon' wearing moments, back in my first term. You can see mine on my Matriculation photos. That and the purple pot on my left arm.

He holds the pause just long enough. "What, they wanted to put them up?"

"Funny. And when I was there there were all the Anti-War protests".

There is a sort of bemused look on his face. "You were at Oxford at that time?"

We turn the corner, more posters emblazoning the walls.

"Yes, 2003 - I was in my second year".

He begins to laugh. "I'm not going to say what I was doing then".

There is a trickling realisation that whilst he may have passed the NKOTB test with flying colours this might have more to do with his nationality than his age. And then I recall that he originally thought I had come to Goldsmiths straight from Oxford, neither of us calculating any of the maths further than the fact that he has begun to mock that I have to tick a different box to him in age categories. But I cannot step away from it.

"Tell me".

I cannot hide my urgency.

"You don't want to know".

"Look, I can work it out".

We have now arrived at the Cafe from Corporate Hell.

"I was...doing my GCSEs".

I stop.

"What?!"

He has the decency to mingle his gloating with just enough sheepishness. "My second year of GCSEs".

"But still your GCSEs. Whilst I was in my second year of University".

There's a pause.

"Yes".

We look at each other and I feel vaguely unclean.

"Let's never speak of this ever again".

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