On the third Saturday in September Jessica will arrive at university. Sometime between 11am and noon apparently: that’s her “designated parking time”.
Oh dear. She’s going to a fine university, no doubt full of very intelligent people. They just don’t seem to have teenage daughters…
It’s easy to see what’s happened.
‘Lots of freshers arriving. Chaos in the car park. Need a plan. Get a nerd to write a programme.’
And said nerd has stopped playing World of Warcraft and done exactly that. He’s looked at his own “what to bring to Uni” list – jeans, T-shirts, Xbox, six PCs – and assumed all students are the same.
Then he’s factored in the number of students arriving, five minutes to unpack, 0.3 seconds for tearful farewell to elderly parents.
He’s written one of those equations with a big, squiggly F at the front and out has popped Jessica’s all-too-brief time in the car park.
Time allowed to unpack the car – five minutes. Make that five hours and you might be somewhere near.
Never let it be said that our daughter doesn’t do things properly. She has taken the university’s “things you might want to bring” and spun it into War and Peace.
Camel trains moved across the desert less heavily laden than Jane’s car will be as it approaches the car park.
So, here it is. In its entirety. Jessica’s list: I defy anyone to come close. And if you think “new school shoes – gym kit – geometry set” is excessive you’d be well advised to leave the country.
Quilt – duvets and sheets – pillows – pillow cases – blankets – bath towels x 2 – hand towels x 2 – flannel – toaster – small frying pan – small saucepan – baking tray – spatula – wooden spoon – plates – bowls – cutlery – tea towels – glasses (phew, no mention of the tequila shot glasses that her brother sees as an integral part of his degree) – mugs - egg cup – bottle opener – baking bowl – chopping knives – cheese grater – shampoo – conditioner – toothpaste – razor/shaving gel – bathmat – washbag – shower gel – toilet roll – first aid kit – sewing kit – coat hangers – bedside lamp – extension lead – passport photos – cutlery – chopping knife – washing powder.
You have to feel for the residents of this benighted town. Clearly the shops don’t have these essentials of human life. But never mind. That’s her bedroom sorted. On to the sports field.
Astros – undershorts and overshorts. (Overshorts are just “shorts” in old money, right? Undershorts are what you wear to stop getting hamstring pulls. Unless you’re me, in which case hamstring pulls are what you get from lacing your trainers.) Where was I? 2 x tops. “Why don’t you wait and get your tops at university? Then they’ll be in the team colours.”
“I don’t want everything to be in one colour, dad.” Meaning, “I’ll get some more tops when I’m there, obviously”.
Skin – sports socks – Canterbury trackie bottoms. Wouldn’t you know it, the trackie bottoms have to be Canterbury. I dimly remembered what my trackie bottoms had cost – it would buy half a leg for Jessica.
Phew, you think. Thank goodness, that’s over. Sorry, mate. She hit us with a second list.
Pens & paper – folders – stapler & note pad – Blu-Tack – paracetamol – lava lamp – rug (Rug?? It was at this point I felt my daughter had lost control). But of course there was one final item. Writ very large. CLOTHES.
Winter coat – winter PJs – Bras/undies – thick cardi – jeans (black). Heels – Converse – Pumps – Ankle boots.
Four pairs of shoes? In addition to the ones she already has? I managed to survive university with a pair of desert boots and some trainers. But I’ve only been her father for 18 years.
Clearly I have learnt nothing…