Sunday, 23 June 2013

Cambridge Memories

This weekend I was back in Cambridge.  It's been a few years since I was there, and last time I was there, I didn't go anywhere near my old College.

This time, I was at a Ball - in Newnham College - just over the road from Selwyn, which is where I spent three years of my life around twenty years ago.  Selwyn college itself has grown since I was there.  The one Old Court on the corner has grown and taken over where a few old houses the college used for accommodation used to be.  I've not been into Selwyn College since I left in early summer 1997.  I've not actively avoided it, but my life just hasn't taken me back there.

Lots of people I know feel nostalgic about their time at University, and going back to where they studied brings back the memories of life as it was there.  For the first few years after graduation, I didn't go back to Cambridge much at all.  I didn't live in London at the time, and getting from Worcester over to Cambridge wasn't the easiest of journeys - as my trips the other way for job interviews in my final year proved.  But most importantly, I didn't know anyone back in Cambridge; everyone I knew had moved out; mostly down to London as it happened.

And so life started proper for me away from Cambridge.  University for most people - me included - is the first time living away from home, and having to sort out your own bills and live your own life.  But it's still in such an insulated environment and the independence only lasts for eight week stretches whilst term is happening, anyway.  Life for me didn't start properly until after I had left Cambridge and moved over to Malvern.

My time in Cambridge wasn't unhappy at all, but I don't feel the huge sense of nostalgia for my days as a student which so many people seem to.  Going back to Cambridge this weekend - to Newnham for the ball and wandering around Cambridge proper on Saturday - didn't really stir any memories at all.  I could remember the places I went, and could recall the names of the restaurants and bars where I used to spend my time - but there was no feeling there - no emotions rising up from the deep as I walked past Bangkok City or The Eagle.  The LloydsTSB is still in the same impressive building on the corner, though Robert Sayle has been replaced by a modern shopping centre full of glass, shiny metal and bland high street shops.

The area by the station is totally unfamiliar.  Where there was nothing, there are now apartments and the odd coffee shop. The guided busway wasn't even an idea when I spent my time in Cambridge.  Panther Cabs still prowl the streets ferrying people from town to station and back, though.

So maybe my lack of nostalgia for Cambridge is simply the result of the changes which have happened since I lived there.  Maybe Cambridge has changed and so it's not the town I once knew.  Maybe too much has happened to it, and it's become too unfamiliar for me to recognise as the town I once knew intimately.

Or maybe it's not Cambridge which has changed since then.  Maybe it's me.

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