“There is no education like adversity.” Benjamin Disraeli
Winter is coming. No normal winter. A violent, unnatural freeze will descend upon us. Brace yourselves.
Ominous reports are suggesting “the coldest winter in decades” may hit the UK. Scotland will bare the brunt as the arctic air from the jet stream moves out of position to flow right over our country. Violent frost, cold and snowfall are all anticipated in vast quantities. Records are expected to be smashed.
St Salvators quad will be stuffed with snow, filled ten feet high and left looking like a bakewell tart, completely impregnable. Tesco will struggle to re-stock, their lorries stranded on ice-rinks of motorways — they may be forced to overcharge. ‘The Bop’ will become ‘The Scrunch’ and snowdrifts will roll along North Street like American tourists in Edinburgh wool.
In 600 years, our University has been stressed but never snapped. In the coming trial, know you have the strength of your academic great-great-great-grandparents weaved into your robes. Stitched to all of us is the adversity braved by our ancestors; Edward Jenner wetting the bed while puzzling over a cure for smallpox, John Napier’s strain in inventing the logarithm system with a dickie hip, Hazel Irving’s lifelong torment at being mistaken for Sue Barker – all obstacles overcome. We are a hardy breed, us. Never forget that.
As the atmosphere bends the bitter arctic air our way, we will come to know frostbite like the backs of what’s left of our hands. But our essays will still be written, smashed into laptops with our stumpy fists. Gobble-di-gook, but we’ll have 2,499 words and an MMS confirmation email as a certificate of our bravery.
Without a roof, walls, windows or floors, the Union will fall within the first nights of the storms. But Chloe Hill will not be lost – nor those other two blokes. We will rescue her from the arctic hell, nurse her back to health and return her to her rightful throne, piece by piece if necessary.
Make a contingency plan. Where will you go when your hall is levelled under halestone? Andrew Melville is best prepared; head there when your shelter is destroyed. The concrete boat will weather the storm best. It’s well equipped with a projector screen, a copy of Fifa 11 on Xbox and enough ‘tropical’ juice to last us months.
Radiators and sugary drinks will only do so much, however. You must find warmth from within, not from the weather. Let your temperature be set by the burning of your heart, not by the flippancy of a complex system of pressure-temperature variances or the laws of thermodynamics or reality. Find warmth in completing only the required tutorial questions, find relief in sleeping through a lecture, rub against the limits of academic misconduct and feel the friction warm your cockles.
We will never surrender to the snow. We shall fight it on the West Sands, we shall fight it at Leuchars, we shall fight it on Market Street. This united people of St Andrews, we are the allies and I am your Winston Windchill. This time we’re not fighting tyranny, fascism or oppression, but annihilation. We’re fighting for our right to live. To exist.
Should we win the day, this winter will not be known as a Scottish freak of nature, but as the day when St Andrews declared in one voice, “We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish, without a fight. We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive.”
This year, we celebrate our
independence day Winter!