It is 20 years to the day since I had my first university lecture, back on a Monday late in September 1996. It was in constitutional and administrative law. That subject proved to my only first in the following summer’s exams but I went on in 1999 to get a first class degree – my proudest moment, only surpassed in a winter 9 years later by your birth.
I revisited the campus this morning. Soon after 8am, I walked back into the library that I last set foot in 17 years and 3 months or so ago – and 20 years since I enrolled (the library opened at 9am back in my day and closed at 9pm weekdays and 5pm on Saturdays; it is now open 8am to midnight every day during term time). I was also able to go into the lecture theatre where I attended the first lecture all those years ago. I couldn’t wait until the 20th anniversary of my graduation as there was a local news report recently that the university was to sell off this campus before then. The law school moved to another part of the university in the summer that I graduated so I didn’t get to see the old law library itself (or the new one come to that) but did get to have a walk around the areas where I gazed out of the windows, read, wrote and typed, probably in that order – this still being just before the internet took off, for 3 years of my life.
I had previously made a proper visit to the area and the first to the university since I left, though to the grounds only, almost exactly 5 years ago in September 2011, itself almost exactly 2 months before your removal from the UK. In 2011 I visited on the 15th anniversary on my enrolment, the Saturday week before today’s visit.
After visiting today, I had a quick walk through the local area and took in many of the old haunts before rushing back to work – Monday mornings are always a nightmare but it’s better to endure it than have a double nightmare on a Tuesday morning. In terms of the local area it was largely unchanged but the local high street was being redeveloped so next time it is likely to be different. That said, one of the great things about London is that in general it doesn’t change that much with the effluxion of time. Even my parents when visiting in the past have pointed out almost unchanged places that they visited in their youth. It is a city shrouded in history that never fails to fascinate.
What you should take away from this message is that time flies so make the most of your life, especially when you are young. Quite seriously I cannot believe that 20 years has passed since I became a student. When young, you think that you have all the time in the world. My experiences today reminded me, perhaps 20 years too late, that that is not the case.
I shall attach some photographs, from 2011 (if I can retrieve them) and today, below in due course.
Waterloo East station – I used a lot back in those days; Waterloo (main) Station was where I would arrive in London from home; The Shard is visible in the distance
A closer-up photograph of The Shard taken from a train
Part of the library where I studied for 3 years
The lecture theatre where I had my first lecture
The winter gardens and park adjacent to the university
The pillar box from which I would send letters home for three years