I’m 18 going on 19. It’s 1994.
I’m starting university way up in the north of England at a redbrick university far from home. Life had changed so much in the preceding two years.
I’d been at boarding school for 5 years. During which time I’d been happy. Fitted in. My parents’ marriage dissolved during that time. Which in a way I suppose was fine. We had lived abroad for much of my early life and I remember the terrible rows they used to have by the end.
But then my father lost his job. And thus the school fees could no longer be paid. At the 11th hour I didn’t go back to the school I’d been at for 5 years, instead going to a local grammar school. The grammar had a good name and was a good school, but felt ‘gritty’ in contrast to the comparatively ‘ivory tower’ school I’d been at before – with its tuck shop, its chapel and its formal chits for exeats, its summer balls, its annual carol service in the cathedral, etc.
I didn’t much like my 2 years at grammar school and that showed in my A-level results which were disappointing compared with my GCSEs. Thankfully, and by a stroke of luck, although I didn’t technically get the BBB required to go to my first choice university – they still admitted me as I’d been up to the open day (with my father), met – and got on with – the director of studies, and all was fine.
It was in the 1st year at university that I first started listening to The Levellers. I was on an all-boys corridor of 8 and we had a radio/cassette recorder in the kitchen. One of the blokes on the corridor – Jack – was obsessed with The Levellers and played them all the time. A bit like REM a year or two earlier – I had no traction with the music initially but I warmed to it very quickly.
For me, The Levellers will always represent 1st year at university.