Sunday, 17 March 2013

Bite each day to the core

As I left my daughter Emily at her student house, I felt the usual natural feelings of slight sadness and loss. However, as I drove home, I realised that I was also pray to another emotion- nostalgia.
Emily is blissfully happy in her second year, sharing a house with five other drama students. The tales of their antics, the photographs I get to see and the very smell of their home, transported me back to a golden time in my life. In 1982 I was living in Ferncroft Avenue in North London, reading English at London University and making the most of every minute, day and night.

My reminiscent mood has stayed with me, so today I dug out my old photograph albums and brought together two happy lives- thirty years apart.

To start with, I should let you know that our house was known as "The House of Ill Repute"

( in our costumes for a Brecht play, before you get too worried)

Theirs is simply called "Brian"...

We seemed to spend most of our lives in fancy dress- going to dozens of parties

Stone Age Vamp

As do they.


Goodness knows the theme of this one!

I think we can guess this party

Every day brought a new chance to dress up and laugh at ourselves. This next photograph is my closest friend and room-mate Gillie, who we dressed up in an approximation of the extremes of 1980 fashion- all because she was dyeing her hair and had wrapped a rather large towel around it as a turban...

One evening Emily's housemates dug out every hat they could find...and wore them in character.

As always, there are private jokes-

The contents of a cupboard cling-filmed and guarded by an ancient Nan bread at Emily's house

 And rituals

Gillie and I set up a chess board. Each and every man we knew was on that board and we solemnly moved the pieces every day, depending upon their conduct towards us!

One day we made a huge poster but were disconcerted to find that the paint we used was permanent.

One riotous evening, Emily somehow ended up balancing most of the kitchen's utensils on her head...

Emily and her gang are lucky to have a garden to enjoy the recent snow

We did not but that didn't stop us sitting out on the window sills to enjoy the cool of the summer nights

We were always up to something. One of my most memorable pranks was holding a Christmas Dinner in the middle of Whitestone Pond on a very cold day in March. This event was complete with butler, wind-up gramophone and carol singers...

Emily has had her chilly moments- the boiler broke down for several days over the last freezing spell

We too were such close friends, there was nothing we didn't share or do together

There was often a gathering together at supper time

And it is the same at 'Brian' too

The decor may have changed

Ellen and Gillie in our room

Ems in their home-made fort

But there is so much the same.

One of my strongest memories is awakening early to the bright sunshine of an early summer morning. I lay in bed and realised that this was a unique period in my life. I had been given a one-off chance to live without care, to study and mix with so many like-minded people. I asked myself  "was I making the most of this wonderful gift". I lay and pondered and finally came up with the answer "yes, I was".
I could honestly say I was making the most of every single moment, on all levels. I have never quite been able to say the same since but I'm so glad I 'seized the day' during that wonderful, magical year of 1982.

My friend Gillie and I enjoyed every minute

And, from the looks of things-

Emily does too!

(With many thanks to Emily and her friends for the photographs I've snaffled- please don't borrow or re-use  them or any of mine! )


  1. Absolutely fantastic post and full of the most wonderful memories, lovely to see that students do the same today. Our antics in the nurses home during my 3 years training would have probably got me arrested, but like you, I remember those days with a great deal of fondness and we had such fun, especially me and a certain Doctor! Hopefully see you at Frome.
    Jo xx

    1. Hello Jo, I'm so glad you enjoyed this piece, it really did take me back to those happy, mad student days.
      And who was that certain Doctor I wonder...?
      Jane xx

  2. So good that you had that time. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we just could feel a little like that now? Diane

    1. I do so agree Diane, Emily and her friends have such amazing energy and gusto for life! Jane xx

  3. What a wonderful time you had at Uni! My faculty was just round the corner from my parents' house, so... I stayed at home whilst studying Modern Languages and Literature, at University.

    Your photos are full of nostalgia and happiness! You make me wish I could have done something like that! Though... I did travel round Europe and I had a fantastic time going absolutely mad after I split up from a much older boyfriend who emotionally abused me. But it's all in the past... who cares?

    Christmas Dinner in the middle of a pond sounds like fun... with Carols! How wonderful!

    I love the past and hate it, at the same time. Don't you wish you could go back, even though that would mean having to eat peppers filled with beans and cheese? Or was that about a year ago. Come Dine With Me, was it?

    I simply LOVED this post! Best ever!



    1. Hello my dear Anna,
      Looking out my old photographs again reminded me so poignantly of the happiness and amazing friendships I made at that time.
      I tend to have a bit of a tendancy to ponder about my past- I think I'm a naturally nostalgic person...
      I was only talking about Come Dine with Me last weekend and that brought back memories from that mad time!
      I wish we had been friends when young, you would have loved our house I'm sure and wouldn't we have had fun?
      Jane xx

    2. Dear Jane... you and I, together: absolute madness! Yes, Jane, I believe we would have had fun as I am still, even now a little bit eccentric! I am a kind of Bridget Jones... that's how bad it gets!

      This was a great post... a kind of journey, really. Thank you for taking me there!


    3. How funny Anna, so many people have said that I'm a bit like Bridget Jones too! Watch out world if we do get together!
      Have a happy week my friend,
      Jane xxx

  4. Two different generations enjoying life to the full, perhaps you inspired your daughter. I had a grand time in college too, and spent my junior year abroad, in Istanbul. Lots o fun.

    1. I know that Emily always said she wished she had known my friends when young, as she felt she would have got on really well with them. My dear friend Gillie has also shared her memories with her daughter Sophie- isn't that a happy thought? Jane xx

  5. What a brilliant post! really enjoyed the comparisons... I also lived in London in a shared house in the early 80s..and fancy dress was definitely the thing we enjoyed too. Lizzie

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed my post- I was struck as t how similar our lives were and just had to write about it. It took AGES to sort out the photos!
      I wonder if we met when in London in the 80's- stranger things have happened-
      Jane xx

  6. Gosh! I remember your Hampstead pond dining! Lovely to make contact again!

  7. What a wonderfully detailed memory. My years at Art College were great fun too but the memory of them is a little bit dimmer than yours. I do remember that we lived in a flat with a brass nameplate named Captain Masters. On the opposite side of the landing was a flat called Space Station 4. Guess which one was the most disreputable.