In four years of writing for campus publications, I have received exactly one written response. The message in question was from, of all places, the English Department Office and concerned a Haiku I once wrote for The Jam (latterly reprinted in The Founder) on what I then perceived to be the not inconsiderable Grand Canyon of space between the talents and corresponding fame of one Emma Watson. Petty, I’ll admit, but we all have our things. The response, reprinted for you in its entirety below, came quite out of the blue and remains, to this day, one of the most peculiarly satisfying things to have ever graced my inbox:
Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your haiku entitled ‘A
Mild Observation’. I agree absolutely. Well done!
It sounds ridiculous, kids, but that’s what it’s all about.
It can be a lonely job, pretending professionalism for a campus paper that half the time doubles as portable tray table for all you lazy bastards in Café Jules, lonelier still when one is burdened with the medical inability to write anything shorter than a page and a half and is consequently destined always to be passed over for Lovestruck and the pictures at the back. Writing things for the paper, however irreverent, can tend to make one feel not unlike one of those transient weirdos you’ll usually spot wearing crusty cords and remonstrating loudly with midair outside Waterloo Station after chucking out time of a Friday night. People can hear you just fine but they’re certainly not going to make eye contact, let alone feel compelled to strike up a chat. To channel Meg Ryan, the famous sociopath (and a woman naturally very dear to my heart), writing can sometimes feel rather like simply sending thoughts and questions out into a kind of giant void, with little hope of answer or response, and my writing career at this university has, for the most part, met with just this kind of silence. But all the same, even though you are, at large, a silent mass, I am nonetheless quite as convinced of your existence as I am of the demonic powers of the Kindle or the fact that Winona Ryder honestly was just rehearsing for a role that time she tried to rob Saks.
And so, being as this is my last edition as Arts Editor of our illustrious paper, I thought I would leave you all with a few parting pearls of wisdom to help you along, in the hope that all of you, however silent, will heed my words and trust both to the fact that I only want what’s best for you and that I am absolutely always right. It can be a scary world, especially for those of us who actively read arts sections, and I tend to find that a little friendly advice from a Masters Student on a last gasp powertrip never hurt anyone. Or if it did, it could certainly never be conclusively proven.
Julia’s 9 Handy Life Lessons/Artistic Cheat Codes/Rules of Cult Membership
1. Do not allow bad movies to ruin your life.
Yes, Les Miserables is going to be a thing. And The Perks of Being a Wallflower. And someone honestly thought it would be a good idea to stick Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages and set that loose upon the world. Yes, it’s all true. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
Once you have accepted this as an unchangeable fact of life, you’ll find the anxiety dreams about being chased down long corridors by Russell Crowe wearing a tri-cornered hat and attempting to sing The Confrontation song at you will decrease considerably.
2. Resist TV guilt.
We all watch too much of it. But really, I’d still rather hang out with the person who can talk about this season’s Apprentice than the person who thinks TV rots the brain.
3. Stop coughing at the theatre.
Realistically, I realise you cannot all have been at the National last week when I witnessed what can only be described as a two hour Consumptives Only production of Antigone, but working purely off the rules of probability, I am going to assume at least one of you was. A constructive note for the future – if you’re feeling that ill, stay home.
4. Stop listening to Lana Del Rey.
I don’t want to tell you again.
5. Reserve judgement on J.K. Rowling’s new book until you’ve read it.
I know. I would have preferred a Marauders-themed prequel too. But there’s no need to be a bitch about it.
6. Have some pride.
Don’t read Fifty Shades of Grey
7. Take My Advice.
Read/watch/visit/explore/listen to every good thing that you can. There’s a hell of a lot to do, kids, and very little time in which to do it. I don’t wish to get heavy here, but we are all going to die, and I would personally like to experience as many well written/acted/built/arranged/sung things as I can before inevitably succumbing to a stress-related arrhythmia and dying in comedic agony halfway up a flight of stairs.
8. Never promise a list of nine things if you cannot remember the ninth one
9. Emma Watson’s Fame
And Emma Watson’s Talent