It’s 1988 and I’m 18 years old. It’s my first night at college, but due to a scheduling mix up, I’ve arrived one week late and everyone else has made friends. Teenagers are running around the halls of residence laughing and drinking.
I sit on my new bed feeling desperately alone.
I root through the bag of food my parents have left me; searching for some home comforts. It contains 6 tins of hot dogs and 6 tins of beans. I cast my mind back and try to remember my last conversation with my parents. And try to recall the exact point where they mistakingly thought I was enrolling at cowboy college. They’re going to be disappointed when I graduate and I can’t herd cattle. But on the upside, when I search through the bag I find that there’s no tin opener.
I set off to find one…
I see a guy struggling with a suitcase. He’s a late starter – like me. I rush over to help.
“Hi,” I say.
“Hi. I’m Jimi Fernandez,” he replies. Jimi looks exactly like Andrew Ridgeley.
Oh my god, I think. I’ve only been at college for one hour and I’m already meeting exciting new people from all over the world.
“I’m Julian,” I say. “I’m from Wakefield. Where are you from?”
“Barnsley,” he says.
Exotic Jimi from Barnsley and I agree to meet up in the communal TV lounge in one hour. I see Jimi as my marker. We’re both newbies and we have to integrate into an established group of friends. If I can keep up with Jimi, it will help boost my confidence.
One hour later…
I’m sat in the TV lounge watching Blind Date. There is only one other person in the room and, unfortunately, he’s a geordie.
Two hours later…
There’s still no sign of Jimi. The door opens. I look around, but it’s just another geordie. I’m three hours into the best years of my life and all I’ve met so far is two geordie’s with a Cilla Black fetish and 50% of Wham. Plus, I’m starving.
I head off back to my room, but as I walk along the corridor I can hear someone shouting my name. I spin round and see Jimi running towards me.
“Sorry I didn’t turn up,” he says. “but you’ll never guess what’s just happened to me.”
“I’ve just had a shag. And get this, she’s a catwalk model for Benetton.”
When you go to college it’s important to read the signs on the entrance doors. I seem to have gone through the ‘TV & geordie door’, whereas Jimi’s gone through the ‘sex with models’ door.
“That’s great,” I lie. Jimi tells me all about his encounter in graphic detail. Soon, Jimi spots that my enthusiasm is starting to wane and, even though things are going well for him, that maybe I’m struggling to fit in.
“Don’t worry,’ he says. “You’ll find someone. There are plenty of girls.”
I raise my head up and ask with eyes that are almost pleading, “Can you ask the catwalk model if she has…”
“No, a tin opener.”