At University for my first year I stayed in a Hall of Residence (Boddington Hall near Adel in Leeds some four miles or so from the main campus) that was split into several houses.
With hindsight I can now appreciate how we were (I will now tar all my co-students with the same brush) still relatively immature (some might say I for one still am) – for basically all of us it was our first real experience of being alone in the world with no parental nest to crawl back to every night and also hence the total lack of parental supervision. And thus it meant we didn’t always behave as well as we should…we did act our age (as long as our age was generally accepted to be mischievous and terrible two year olds) but calmness and quietness was definitely out – loud music at all hours was de rigour and the fact that alcohol was freely available meant it also got quite unruly at times.
We weren’t the quietest of houses at Boddington, in fact Vaughan House was quite notorious – not in the same way as ‘Delta Tau Chi’ in ‘Animal House’ (well maybe in some ways !) but still none the less not conducive to a peaceful existence.
In an attempt to curb our youthful exuberance we did have a mentor of sorts – I’ll call him ‘Vernon’ and he was our House Warden and lived in a little house next door with his family. He was new to the role and the most miserable and out of touch mentor you could ever imagine and yet despite this it was his role to try to keep our unruly mob at least as subdued as possible.
Trouble was he didn’t seem to have a clue as to how to go about this…maybe we did act like two year olds but he always tried the same psychology on us that you would with a child of that age and continued to fail miserably. It ended up at an impasse and I guess in frustration he attempted to impose a curfew and other conditions that if broken he informed us may result in expulsion from Vaughan.
At this veiled threat we rebelled even more, just like French Farmers do when confronted with an affront to their perceived liberties, only to make our point heard we couldn’t blockade a port (Leeds is inland and only has a river) and blocking the traffic on the M1 motorway was even by our standards of daring considered to be ‘a wee bit dangerous’ so instead it was decided that we would teach Vernon a different lesson.
We didn’t actually hate him enough to cause him or any of his family any actual harm, none of us were actually that maliciously inclined after all we were just in reality high spirited individuals (spirited with the amount of Vodka and Bourbon etc consumed is probably the most apt description of us as students ever).
Vernon did have a pride and joy…it was a Mini Cooper – he washed it religiously every couple of days and polished it until it gleamed. He also used it everyday – well he did until a particular Wednesday when he awoke to find his pride and joy not parked under the carport of his own house where he left it but rather in front of Vaughan House.
What’s the problem with that you may be thinking ? Well in order to protect the front of the house and us it’s occupants from a potential ram-raid or errant learner driver there were large concrete bollards set into the ground with only enough space to ride a pushbike through that created an area about ten metres square.
And it was in the space between these and the front of the house, Vernon’s Mini sat.
He walked up to it….we watched as his face went though nearly every expression from sheer incomprehension to rage and finally to laughter.
I can only surmise he understood at that point he would never win…understood that he would have to accept that we were only there for another couple of months before being replaced by a potentially less unruly bunch.
Unbelievable to us he’d actually seen the funny side and from the ensuing moment on both parties actually reached a sane and logical compromise. From that moment because of his reaction we grew up (slightly) realising he was human after all and he understood that actually because of his greater acceptance of us and all our faults that we had gained a greater respect for him.
But most of all he understood that you don’t need a jack to lift up a car….just a Rob, a Dave, a Mike, an Andy and a couple of Steve’s.