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Fifth Week Blues
Everyone has a stinking cold. Everyone's miserable, homesick and grumpy. Everyone's seeking desperately to fill the numb void inside them by eating too many 39p chocolate digestives and watching too much Grey's Anatomy. If you were wondering why most students you see are vacant and listless rather than merrily legless as per usual, I have just three words for you: Fifth Week Blues. Yes, while the younger youngsters are all gambolling and capering in delight during Half Term, their elder siblings are still coming to terms with the fact that, at university, there are no half terms. Ever. Five weeks in, no break, and there's still the rest of term left to go. It's almost like being in the working world. And it hurts.
It doesn't help that, around this time, university supervisors generally choose to ramp up the workload to cram in absolutely everything possible before the end of term, just as their students change down a gear to conserve precious energy. Churning out five essays in six days wasn't quite the image sold to us by the beaming students on the front of the university prospectuses – now I'm older and wiser, I can see the hint of deadness behind their eyes. The Stepford Students: run while you can.
But enough of the self pity, we decided on Sunday evening. Yes, we have too much work and absolutely no money, but arguably most people in the country are in a similar position right now. With our upper-lips stiffened and our chins pointed resolutely upwards, my friends and I chose to make like our grandparents during the Blitz and keep calm and carry on. To combat fifth week melancholy, we would be proactive. We would Go Out. At half past eight, we agreed, we will lay down our books, leave college and head to the cinema for an Evening of Fun and Joy. Lovely.
As we scroll through the film times half an hour before they all start, we're left with a quick-fire decision. True Grit? Too violent. Too much bloody retribution. Black Swan? Too scary. Too many swans. Left dithering between Gnomeo and Juliet and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (too whimsical; too wrong on too many levels), one friend spots something we've not heard of: Never Let Me Go. Two girls, one guy. Childhood romance. Love story. Happiness guaranteed. Perfect. So we gulp a preparatory coffee and dash to the cinema.
A little disclaimer. If you're depressed, saddened, or even mildly miffed, do not see this film. If you don't want to see the plot line, hide your eyes, and I'll tell you when to look.
You'll watch as three bright-eyed and bushy-tailed youngsters giggle and play in a quaint boarding school in the 1970s. You'll see the slightly foreboding, freaky teachers, but will just about shrug it off. Two of the kids will fall in love, and you'll think this is quite sweet, really. Then you'll find out that the quaint boarding school is actually farming clones (the aforesaid bright-eyed youngsters) who will grow up and donate their vital organs one by one until they die slow, painful and lonely deaths. Or, to use the film's euphemism, until they "complete".
It's halfway through Week Five now, and we're doing OK. The friend to my left sobbed continuously for an hour and 45 minutes, and to my right the only male in the group was battling distinctly shiny eyes (although he had mistakenly purchased salty popcorn instead of sweet, which in some schools of thought is more depressing than enforced organ donation). I suppose the most positive thing about the film was that it put my essay crisis in perspective. But in a kind of existential we'll-all-just-complete-anyway-what's-the-point perspective.
But it's fine, really. Because Sainsbury's just put Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers on special offer. Let the void-filling recommence.