“I walked across an empty land,
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand,
I felt the earth beneath my feet,
Sat by the river And It made me complete”
(‘Somewhere only we know’, Keane)
And so, the final blog, marking the end of an era, an amazing year, a time to say goodbye and all that jazz (also what some have called the height of my journalism career…hmm). Now normally I am able to relate the hilarious series of events in which my repetitive failure of a life provides entertainment for you all, but writing this blog I’m at a loss. Instead of an account of the mad shenanigans of the final week, I can’t shed any light on the exciting social scene of Halls’ booming student life.
It is Thursday and I am one of those bitter students with what may be called the bitchiest exam tables ever enforced on students, forced to stay on in an empty Halls. Halls now rivals the aftermath of a Nuclear Holocaust. It’s quiet, eerily so, bits of paper swirl in the wind from the overflowing skip, traffic cones are scattered randomly. Instead of a tumble-weed, an abandoned stolen trolley rolls across the courtyard and there are strange objects scattered in random places as if there was some confusion in the mass exodus, a barstool thrown in a bush, a bit of a night club couch sits in the middle of my elevator, there are various Christmas trees sticking out of bins and two expensive looking tree pots now decorate the entrance to House 91.
Everywhere you can see the year flicker by, the snowball fights in the big courtyard, Halloween pre-parties in the canteen, prinking by the pond, even the ghetto reminds me of the time we daringly crossed ‘the border’, before quickly retreating in intimidation of course. I wander around in a lonesome-induced state of derangement, stroking the walls, muttering ‘member-the-time’ to myself and then going to visit someone, remembering they are not there and thus collapsing to the floor, shaking in grief.
I eventually manage to finish my exams and begin packing things up, however I now sit here, in my painfully empty room, clutching my fresher’s wrist band as I sway back and forth on the floor in despair (come on, we’ve all been there) and my suitcases crammed with a surprising amount of stuff. This includes the shameful accumulation of clothes that many a decent food supply was sacrificed for, all them college books you bought, never reading of course, sure isn’t that what Sparknotes is for, and another strange collection of mysterious objects collected (*stolen) on drunken nights out, beer mats, numerous vodka shot glasses, a drawer of straws and a Santa hat and beard, ripped as if to say I had mugged a grubby man dressed as Santa, (I am a supposedly violent drunk). We know not where they come from but can rest assured they are souvenirs of an eventful year.
And what a year it’s been. So instead of throwing myself into the depths of the pond and letting the evil white one finish me off, I decide it may be a tad more healthy to recap the year in Halls, from which we evolved from innocent freshers to, and I quote, “a crowd a mad bastards.” So, for the sake of reminiscing before Halls disappears into a mere facet of the mind and becomes a dream-like memory, here it is, The Halls Experience, for all it’s worth.
Oh the innocence, last September a thousand residents flocked to Halls, suitcases and emotional mammys in tow, mine tearfully reiterating age-old adages like ‘It’s the blow of the whistle that separates the men from the boys’ (wtf?!) As such the banter begun, well after the awkward name-course-from introductions anyway. Possibly the greatest week of any students life, one spent their time signing up to a random assortment of societies for the sake of free bags of pot noodle, condoms and merely because the guy you were talking to was hot (personally, the Nokia guy kept asking me for my number but I’m just irresistible like that). The JCR pulled out all the stops and to be sure, by the end of the week these fine mentors had transformed us into the drunken brawling sexually provocative and law-breaking citizens any respectable student should be. Fair dues JCR, your example is “contagious” (nudge nudge wink wink). Of course, Freshers’ Week had its downfalls. There was that whole ‘cooking and cleaning for yourself’ thing, learning how to work the bus/luas/hoover (as if I ever used the hoover) and of course we still feel the brunt of our naivety, as that dodgy fresher shift continues to follow one around for the rest of the year. But, none the less, we came, we saw and judging by the complaints of the Temple Road residents, we well and truly conquered.
The methods of entertainment in Halls began simple and innocent, a tipsy game of Kings, a DVD night with the girls, an attempt at Jello Shots (note alcohol evaporates easily, something I devastatingly learnt the hard way), but by the last night and with the help of the synonymous ‘Athlone boys’, before you know it people are urinating in kettles, smashing toilet seats apart, telephones off the wall and putting their fists through glass windows, before, as one friend witnessed, they crookedly turn their head to the side, and dementedly whisper ‘Welcome to NUIG’.
The best parts of Halls were somewhere between all this. There are so many stories from the houses of Halls, here are but a few:
Rosa-“The best craic we had was water-sliding down our hallway (in which we laid out bin bags and covered them in fairy liquid and proceeded to slide down it) – worth the wet dog smell for a while after!!”.
Gareth-“It had to be emptying a friend’s room into bin bags and moving it next door and then papering everything right down to the toilet seat. The look on his face was priceless, along with his frustration of not being able to find where we’d hid his things for a whole day.”
Kate -“we did everything, my neighbors moved my mattress to the elevator, then we replaced shampoo with mayo, as well as placing a bow-up doll with a suggestively-placed banana in his bathroom the night his girlfriend came down.”
Donal -“One friend and I hugged each other naked for a game of gay chicken..I won”.
Of course there is always that heart-stopping knock on the door when the wardens intrude on the ‘bantz’, but perhaps in hindsight his ridiculous fines can provide some wee laughs.
Alex- “He fined my friend 50euros for playing a harmonica in his bedroom at 4am. Such a joke.”
Julia-“Three of us knew security was watching through the window and we started dancing with no music to see what would happen. They came up, shut our ‘party’ down and threatened us with fines. They are so ridiculous.”
Ahhh the ridiculous security measures killing our buzz, one thing we shan’t be missing from Halls but nevertheless there is some small triumph in the ‘Unbreakble Five’ of the Small Courtyard who proved to Taggerx too invincible to separate. It just goes to prove, group intimidation of the elderly works every time. However, any further taunting of said warden shall be withheld as one has still not received her deposit back.
Snowballs at Midnight
Now so far, I’ve upheld a somewhat comic recapitulation of events but I don’t think I can escape this topic without sounding a tad ‘smushy’. Well, screw sounding cool, it was magical, okay? And anyone that begrudges me may scoff now but you cannot deny the small child inside you, that transformed you from your usually composed, mature and remarkably chill college student self to the over-excited idiot frolicking in the snow, making snow-angels, various snow sculptures including penises, a life-size Tagney (bravo) and oversized snow men. That first night there were hundreds of us snow-ball fighting, and with ‘Fairytale of New York blaring across the courtyards, it was like something out of a Christmas card, or at least a cringey mobile phone add. One Team England remembers “getting very drunk, playing ‘roly-poly’ in the snow and waking up in someone’s doorway, my hands blue having not felt the cold.” Memories like these are golden.
The JCR Night
Some call them legends, some call them wasters, some may even call them ‘mysteriously good-looking and ginger (?!)’ (to them I say don’t, it follows you around…), but say what you like about the JCR we can’t deny some very memorable nights out on their behalf. From the epic Fresher’s week, to the Halloween costume party, personal Halls nights in Reynard’s, Halls got Talent, Take me Out, Sports Day, and the brilliantly executed Hall Ball. There was always the free booze and loud buzz in the canteen, the sweet anticipation of a night out in the twilight of the evening as bass thuds float across the courtyard, and shivering chatter ensues in the wait for the buses. Then the bus arrives and we then ascend into a titanic-like prinking-induced panic as we weave onto the double-deckers. The Ball was perhaps a little more refined. Our ceremonial send-off to Halls, we crowned King Obi and Queen Tuula (what a girl!) not to mention the aptness of the Drunk of Halls, who on announcement was already passed out and sent home. Scrubbed up and looking dapper we remarked how far we’d come from a less cool/fashionable generally disowned self of fresher’s week. And yet, the most one can say they’ve been transformed is by the amount of people we’ve met here, flatmates, classmates, neighbors, that girl you met in the elevator, that guy you met walking home. On the dance-floor of Hall Ball you could turn any which direction and have a group of familiar faces to ‘bust a move’ with. In the anonymity of Dublin, especially its night clubs (not that most of us wouldn’t appreciate anonymity on some overtly-indulgent nights out) Halls provided our own little red brick oasis we claimed as our own and the JCR cemented that sense of community. I suppose, as the wise old Brendan Tagney said on that first night, we may expect something similar to the effect of a JCR night come our weddings, divorce parties and funerals, just think of them as slightly more overdressed, bitter and intoxicated. I don’t think it’s been said enough this year, but thank you JCR.
I think this element should be left ambiguous for everyone has their own personal element that defined Halls to them. For me, it was crossing the bridge in Autumn and to my inconsolable horror, my plastic bag splits and out drops a shoulder of Deveney’s finest vodka, smashed to smithereens, the divine liquor disappeared through the cracks, down only to benefit the fish (I denounce responsibility for any floating fish seen in the pond at this time). I stand in shock, trying to absorb the fumes into my lungs for what it was worth. And yet what struck me most was the amount of people to stop on the bridge to console me, stand for a few moments and mourn the lost vodka. I eventually leave the ruins and yet, by the time I reach my door, there a small group of neighbors have gathered. As I approach, they turn, sympathetically, one says “we heard the news”, the others sympathetically nod. I have never felt so loved, you’d swear my granny had died and as such I quickly forget about the lost vodka. At this point I could say something seedy like ‘who needs alcohol when you can get high on friendship’ but no, you get the soppy point.
Overall, there is no denying you leave College a very different person to the one you came, but you leave a place like Halls a better person to the one that came, with a pocket full of memories and life-long friends to boot.
So here’s to Halls, cheers, R.I.P, nice havin’ ya. I will hand the reigns of ‘The View From Halls’ over to someone else, and I hopefully still have a place in the paper next year after all the JCR abuse, science slander, public confessions of love for certain politicians and the general tomfoolery this blog brought out in me.
Halls 2010/11, it’s been nice.
Now where to for the house-warmers next September?
Or at least, if that doesn’t happen, we always have weddings, divorces and funerals to look forward to.