This week, I went up to Warwick and Sheffield, to both of the universities there, neither of which I’ve applied to or have any intention of going to. I did however get a slight taste for university life.
On Saturday, I was up in Warwick seeing friends in Unibrass. Now, for those of you not up with the competitive brass band lingo, this is a day on which fourteen university brass bands compete for the win, much like battle of the bands (with slightly fewer people I’d imagine). So, Sheffield kicked of the show with a fantastic debut performance considering the band was only formed four moths ago and was also one of of the key bands I was supporting. As the day progressed, there were some truly great performances and talented musicians, including an incredible performance of ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ on the xylophone, blindfolded, and clearly it was the place to be, as one of the diligent students demonstrated. It turns out, as one of the keen competitors was all ready to go at six a.m., instrument in hand in his student flat, his door handle fell off. However, not wanting to miss out on Unibrass, he did the only sensible thing and tied his trombone to a bed sheet and lowered it out of his first floor window before following it down by climbing out the window and down the drainpipe.
Then the moment we had all been waiting for – the results. It seems all the universities were keen for a bit of banding banter, I never knew brass banders were so rowdy. The comment “good job it was a brass competition not a singing one” was raised as chants of “Wa-les, Wa-les” (from Bangor and Cardiff) were greeted with chants of “York-shire, York-shire” (from Huddersfield and York). This was often interspersed with renditions of “Oh when the Saints” from Southampton while Bangor and Cardiff were still going strong, well, that was until the rest of the hall burst into the English National Anthem and they were slightly outnumbered. It was all then topped off with an aptly grand rendition of “The Grand Old Duke of York” from York along with a few other (slightly random) classics from around the hall such as “Bread of Heaven” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”. This went on for just over half an hour and I don’t think I’ve ever heard such enthusiastic cheering or heckling dependent on the success of a Mexican wave.
Unfortunately I had to leave before the results were actually announced in order to get my bus on time. although for those of you interested, of the bands I was supporting, York came 3rd, Sheffield 6th and Durham 7th with York winning most entertaining band, Sheffield winning best solo and Durham winning most improved/best original composition or arrangement. I then had to get four trains – two of which were unplanned due to a ‘suspected incident’ and a delay on the line from the train in front (to which someone helpfully yelled out “well overtake it then!”- meaning instead of getting in at the intended time of half past ten, I arrived in true student style, rolling in for a home-cooked dinner in the early hours. After a very good catching up with a very good friend, I experienced lovely student accommodation with lovely people before going out in the big world and exploring the city the next day. We then went all out and went climbing in the afternoon which was very exciting (although I wasn’t very good) and then had the full Church experience at a fantastic and friendly church in the evening including a free meal of jacket potatoes (with many ending up being chucked across the room at each other for those poor students to reheat for consumption later in the week) and a good old trip to the pub. It is always a bit awkward though when you see your friend’s identical twin brother for the first time and you have to keep reminding yourself that he has absolutely no idea who you are when you keep expecting him to come and say hello. Anyway, after pretty much going to bed in the morning and waking up in the afternoon, I felt like, as far as student life goes, I had learnt the things that open days can’t teach you and only friends can.
An absolutely fantastic weekend (despite the two pre-dawn starts) so thanks and congratulations to everyone who made it so 🙂