Gregorys World

  • 03 min read
  • 12 Mar 2024
Gregorys World

Gregory Sidaway

The Adventure Continues Moving from home to uni used to feel like a seismic shift. There’s a point about half an hour into the journey to Oxford when the road bends around the foot (fin?) of Fish Hill, climbs its I-know-it-looks-tempting but-don’t-do-more-than-thirty mph slope, and swings round so that you can peer through the passenger seat window and catch one last glimpse of home. One last glimpse of home waiting below, and my legs would wobble and my heart would jitter like a needle on a seismograph and, well, it wasn’t much fun. Suddenly, I’d hopped from one world and another had risen up around me: yellow-stone arches looming, bicycles zooming, pigeons plume-ing. I remember my first meal in the dinner hall at college when the sweetcorn was trembling off my fork before I could eat it. Not so much any more – otherwise, dinner would be getting pretty cold by now. Having just entered my fifth term, the move has thankfully lost its magnitude. Driving into Oxford (breathing in as we skirt around the edge of the zero emission zone) is almost like watching a ‘Previously …’ segment on your favourite TV show. It’s a compound of sights and smells and memories – and I have to remind myself that, yes, I have nearly completed half of my course already. Slowly but surely, I have been assembling a bulging, unwieldy timeline in my head of over a thousand years of history, literature and thinking, continuing to prop it up with new research and ideas, texts and authors. I’m currently reading from a ‘Complete Works of Chaucer’ so hefty that it should probably be registered as an offensive weapon. For those who don’t know, reading Chaucer is pretty difficult even if you’ve only got one page of him (and not enough to wedge a door or buffer a small tank) because he writes in what we now call ‘Middle English’. It’s an ancestor to our current language today and – to give you a February-related example of what it looks like – here’s how Chaucer describes Valentine’s Day in Parliament of Fowls (1382): ‘For this was on Seynt Valentynes day / Whan every foul cometh there to chese his make …’ ‘For this was on Saint Valentine’s day / When every bird comes there to choose his match …’ It’s basically like that. You read three words compatible with modern English and then you hit a weird one – so it can become quite a hurdle race after several hundred lines. Incidentally, fellow reader, I have been known to speak Middle English after a few pints at The Pickled Plum. In the first year, our accommodation was ours for only the eight weeks of term. At the end of week eight, we all had to leave without a trace and play the fun game of figuring out how we were possibly able to fit so much stuff into one suitcase before. This time around, the accommodation is ours for a nine-month stint. This means I could leave some bigger things in my room over Christmas. So, when I arrived and unlocked my bedroom door, I was reunited with an old friend. Fry was waiting for me – and I had a new Tesco voucher to make sure he would be properly fed on a diet of whatever beige potato product caught my eye in the freezer aisle. I’m no air fryer artisan, but I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of this business. Most recently, I’ve had a blast from the past and bought those smiling potato faces they used to serve at Wacky Warehouse, Bungo’s Barn and all good children’s establishments. I’ll tell you what, I know it sounds silly but if you’re feeling a little gloomy, I would definitely prescribe a hearty dose of optimistic food. With those in mind, I think I’ll head down for dinner. I’ll think of you back at home, fellow reader, as I welcome the new term! It’s nice to be able to properly appreciate both worlds now. Not sure what veg I’ll do yet, but I leave you in the knowledge that it won’t tremble off my fork.