Madeleine Sanderson with permission for Varsity

A particularly crucial few minutes of my summer included writing my Varsity application hunched over my phone on the toilet seat from the locked bathroom of my job as a sushi waitress for the middle classes.

As much as I revel in the delights of eavesdropping on debates on which types of kitchens are currently in Vogue (scandalously, the college kitchens didn’t even get a look in) or the agitation that gossiping about Helen from the PTA’s five-year-old Jaguar  incites, I was growing weary of explaining to middle-aged businessmen that shockingly, no matter how much of a petty frenzy they rile themselves into, conducting a huffing fit in the crossfire of a busy restaurant does not cause the food to magically appear any faster. Turning to writing, I yearned for new, exciting experiences, or vaguely soon the local Aga dealership across the road might have found itself inexplicably burnt to the ground in a fit of frenzied retribution.

I know I’m overreacting -- admittedly I consume about half the shop’s daily takings in gorging on free sushi. It is also worth pointing out that despite the woes of the service industry, I have been living a relatively undisturbed (if not mind-numbingly tedious) existence in a leafy village on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

Recently the now-defeated Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak was recorded rejoicing to the town’s party members (effectively its entire adult populace) in a rather dubious context that “areas like this are getting the funding they deserve[d].” It must be working,  as — praise our benevolent municipal overlords! — there’s an Urban Outfitters opening in October. .

Having decided that full-time employment was simply incompatible with my indie, bohemian lifestyle as a humanities student, mid-July became a period of stagnation. My body would clock into work but my mind simply was not there. Cruising aimlessly through summer as I was inundated by numerous BeReals of conscientious fellow students hard at work at their internships, I felt like Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate. Instead of enjoying a sensual relationship with an attractive older woman, however,  all of the ‘hot milfs’ in my area remained firmly on the other side of the computer screen, whilst I resisted the seductions of retired punters in my local Wetherspoons.

As August reared its head, I found myself scraping various parts of my brain up off the workplace floor and off the yellowed grass of the UK festival circuit. Perpetually sunburnt, hungover and thoroughly sick of the home counties, like a frail Victorian maiden I thought I might seek some respite visiting my grandparents’ seaside cottage in Yorkshire.

After having fed me enough homemade alcohol (legal status unconfirmed) to knock out a small horse, normal programming resumed and it was promptly time for Grandad’s scheduled rant about whatever recent dilemma the Mail/Sky News/his mate down the pub had been preaching throughout the village.

This week’s armchair broadcast concerned the cost of living crisis and electricity prices, which, coming from a generation that could practically purchase half of London for tuppence felt a bit like being kicked repeatedly in the head whilst already out cold on the ground.

As usual, he began to reminisce about his youth - “Didn’t have smart meters in socialist Yugoslavia”, he bemoaned. He was technically right, but what on earth was I supposed to do about it? Besides, the man essentially can’t work any appliance manufactured after about 1980 so he’ll probably survive anyway.


Mountain View

Photographing the humans of Cambridge: Mark Box on connection, chow mein, and Cambridge clubs

Now, with much of my memory shrivelled and dried up like my overdraft, or pickled with cheap alcohol, or fixated on happier times spent on an overcrowded Flixbus or a late-night bar somewhere in Northern Europe, I find myself wondering just how it all went by so fast. But it’s late, I’ve got work tomorrow, and desperate for further writing material (and money for Thursday Lola’s), I will once again don my server’s uniform.