This familiar, and now greatly unwelcome, greeting rings out for the nth time since entering the Union. The people I came here with have long since gone to the bar after rolling their eyes when the queue formed so that everyone could meet their great hero. Unfortunately, I will have to stand here for most of the night as people wait to say hello.
At first the fame was welcome, and I enjoyed seeing so many people on a night out. However, now that my best years are behind me, I grow weary and all the attention and pleasantries make me think just one thing: it’s time to leave.
St Andrews is a much bigger university than my last, and while at first I thought this would be good as it would allow me to meet new people and share ideas and stories, this ended up not really being the case.
What I thought would be a mutually beneficial meeting of the minds turned into uncontrollable and unsustainable fame and idolatry. That initial wave of meeting new people was great, but as me introducing myself to people became the excitedly inquisitive “Are you Big Al?”, I knew I had taken a turn towards something completely different from the quiet life of appreciative academia I was expecting.
That is not to say that fame comes without benefits. There’s of course an ease to life that comes with fame. There are certain things afforded to a man of my stature and good standing. A life of short queues and mates keeps my social life both affordable and without the unending nadir of a main bar queue.
Combined with the occasional (read: regular) free drink, you would imagine that this is a life anyone would dream of. However, as Queen Elizabeth I said, “ To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it.”
I dream of a different life, where I am not beset on all sides by random people who take me away from what I hold dear, and the expectations placed upon me are not so high that my social calendar is more packed than my scholastic one.
I wish to be in control of my life and not have nameless faces decide what I do on a night out. As I prepare to leave, I do have some things to worry about. There’s a fine line to be walked between having a successful social life that doesn’t fall into the same traps of over popularity I felt at St Andrews, and closing myself off too much so that my name fades into obscurity.
Given the natural élan I conduct myself with, it is hard to envision a world where my social life is lacking. Instead, as I embark on this new adventure, it is important to remember why I am leaving. Controlling my life is the point, and therefore I need to do things on my terms and not bow to outside pressures so easily. It is well and truly time to choose to leave and take back control.
Life in St Andrews of course had its moments. I fondly remember moments in the Union or at balls where my friends and I would laugh and carouse to our hearts content and I would forget about being “Big Al”. However, for every one of those moments, there would be about four where I would leave my friends to go to the loo and upon my return be in – vaded by people I pretend to know.
The waves and waves of smiling faces were fun but soon became over – bearing and draining. My energy was no longer spent cutting shapes on the dancefloor but instead smiling and shaking hands with a horde of acquaintances and fans.
I hope, I dream, that Durham is more solitary. That as I walk the streets and halls of that hallowed university, my 3/10 chat and mild kindness isn’t heralded as the next coming of the messiah. I pray that I find my place amongst the average man and that my undeserved idolatry doesn’t continue. Heavy is the head that wears the crown and both my head and body grow weary.
On, on you noblest Durhamites whose blood is fet from students of chat-proof. May your students take my crown and subject my life to that of the average student. My energy is drained, and I must reiterate: it is time to leave.