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The Comedy of Errors

A Canadian in New Basford Does Alternative Freshers Week

1 October 08 words: Rob Cutforth
illustrations: Rob White

An alternative freshers' week, designed to help students blend in with the locals. Each day, you will take on the habits of a local...

You’ve done it. You’ve studied hard, you’ve passed your tests and you’ve managed to get away from your parents. You’ve chosen Nottingham because it’s got a good nightlife and the perfect location. It’s far enough away from your parents that they can’t drop in while you’re in the midst of a spliff and fellatio session, but close enough that they can come by and fill your cupboards on demand. Genius. Problem is, you know nothing about Nottingham. You’ve heard about Robin Hood, the bar culture and the gun crime, but you know nothing of the people in Nottingham.

Nottinghamites are a divided lot. There are two main camps in Nottingham; in the first , you have the so-called 'normal' people. The people who work nine-to-five, pay their taxes on time, drive minivans and go market hopping on Sundays. People whose biggest worry is who is going to pick the 2.5 kids up from football/cricket/dance/aikedo/pottery class. Nottingham’s other camp is comprised of the oddballs. Eccentrics, Emos, Goths, Geeks, Bums, Chavs, Yobs, Hooligans, Mobsters, Freaks, Punks and every possible combination. Goth Geeks, Chavvy Punks and Mobster Hooligans are probably the most common. In fact, Nottingham’s 'Godfather of Crime' looks more like a Milwall away supporter than Tony Soprano.

Nottingham has so many oddballs that many have yet to be classified. Why, just today I saw a woman in her early forties outside Pret a Manger sporting a red poncho and combat trousers, smoking a cigarette through a cigarette holder. How messed up is that? Show me another city that’s got a militant Cruella De Vil, I dare ya.

There are not many things the normal people and the oddballs agree on, but one thing that unites the entirety of the Nottingham populace is their hatred of you, the student. And why shouldn’t they? You waltz into town with your pristine livers, full sets of teeth, youthful energy, vitality and massive libidos without a care in the world. You bastards.

A Nottinghamite can muster more excitement about a root canal or colonic irrigation than Freshers week. How are we - the fat, ugly locals - supposed to keep our wives interested in us when some shirtless, drunken student with a spring in his step and a natural six-pack goes traipsing past? It’s hard to compete with that when you've got love handles, back spots and a deviated septum.

With that in mind, I’ve developed an alternative freshers' week for you, designed to help you blend in with the locals. Each day, you will take on the habits of a local Nottinghamite, thus giving you a better understanding of the people that live around you. Why be the most hated group of people in the city, when you could be its most well-loved?

Day One – The Estate Agent
If there is one thing Nottingham has a lot of, it’s estate agents. To get to know these people better, start your morning out by donning a pin-striped suit and slapping eight gallons of hair wax onto your bonnet. For breakfast, crush ten diet pills into an energy drink and make yourself throw up. Spend the morning in a tanning booth and have two cocktails and a small bucket of cocaine for lunch in Sinatra’s or Fashion Cafe. Spend the afternoon on the phone trying to convince all your friends that investing in the housing market during the credit crunch is a good idea. Shout 'Wanker!' at your phone after they hang up on you. Go home and cry yourself to sleep, wishing you were dead.

Day Two – The Emo
Let the world know that you don’t care what they think of you by spending two hours getting ready to go out. Ask your mother for some money and throw a temper tantrum if she says no. Cry and scream at the top of your lungs. Tell her you hate her and that she’s a no good bitch, then steal a twenty out of her bag when she’s not looking. Show people just how anti-establishment you are by hanging out in front of the Council House. Don’t actually take any ecstasy while you’re there, just act like you think people act when they’re on ecstasy. Make out with an ugly, pimple-faced dude and laugh maniacally at nothing. Hide your Nickelback boxed set when your Emo friends come over to your house.

Day Three – The Goth Geek
Rise out of your coffin and strap on platform black leather boots with at least eighteen shiny steel buckles on them. Tie your long, jet-black hair back into a ponytail and don your black jeans, black t-shirt (with a dragon on it) and apply some black mascara. Work the morning shift ripping tickets at the Tales of Robin Hood and spend the rest of the day at the Malt Cross writing the first three chapters of your fantasy novel over and over. Make two cups of tea last the whole afternoon. While away the twilight hours at home surfing, playing World of Warcraft and painting tiny warrior figurines. Eat a bat and float back into your coffin. Sleep with your eyes open.

Day Four – The Canadian Expat Writer
Put on your oversized hoodie (a nice fluffy one, maybe with a University name on the front) and a baseball cap on backwards. Place a pair of Oakley sunglasses on top of the cap and throw on a pair of shorts, no matter what the weather is like. Get a Canada flag tattoo and whinge incessantly about how patriotic Americans are. Spend the entire day whinging about how bad the crime is in England and beat the shit out of someone who accidentally calls you an American. Write a column whinging about how crap England is. Look up 'irony' in the dictionary.

Day Five – The Chav
Do the 'Escape With Your Life' pub-crawl around town with your mates - Squares, 'Spoonehs', The Thurland, the King John, the Bentinck, etc. The one with the least chunks of glass in their face wins! Extra points for anyone who shouts 'Brian Clough was a bummer!' at the bar.

Day Six – The Goose Fair carnie
Roll around in dog shit for an hour, eat a garlic sandwich and rub a dead rat on your armpits. Play Rock, Paper, Scissors with the other carnies to see who gets to man the rides that flip the girls’ skirts up. Pay no attention to the ride you're operating; instead gorge yourself on mushy peas with mint sauce until you vomit on your shirt. Don’t change your shirt. Drink mouthwash until you pass out in the bouncy castle.

Day Seven – Rebecca Adlington
Jump straight out of bed into a GB Olympic tracksuit. Spend the morning getting cats down from trees, solving crimes and beating up bad guys by whipping them unconscious with your beautiful, blond locks. Walk old ladies across the street, lower taxes and inflation and pull the country out of a recession. End world hunger and cure Cancer, Aids, Hepatitis C, Malaria, Gingivitis and Athlete’s Foot. Go to sleep feeling slightly guilty that you could’ve done more. (OK, Rebecca Adlington might technically be from Mansfield, but surely, she must’ve done her swimming in Nottingham. You can’t train to be an Olympic champion in a mine shaft. Mansfield, quit trying to steal Aah Beckeh!)

Together we will herald a new era of Nottinghamite/Student togetherness, peace, love and understanding. Gone will be the days of punch-ups with the locals in front of Spoony’s, replaced with handshakes and hugs over a can of Tennants Super and an illegal dogfight. This freshers' week schedule can make that happen. Go out there and embrace your community, student, you won’t regret it.

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