Some of the best nights of my life have been the result of spontaneous spur of the moment decisions.  Resulting in the little half-nothings, maybe –somethings that make a life worth living.  Those things that exist outside of the margins of essays of 2500 words in length.

It’s Sunday and the sun is shining.  You wander out into the garden and sit diligently with your work.  Come over and enjoy the sun – you tell a friend, half in jest.  Spontaneous decision number one.  Consequently, you spend afternoon not doing the reading you promised yourself you would, but with a gin and tonic (or three) in your garden.  After all, the sun is shining, the Tanqueray is on special offer, and it would be positively criminal not to enjoy it.  But now the suggestion is a few more drinks, casual – nothing too fast or too furious.  Why not, you tell yourself….just a couple of hours.  The fact you have an unfinished essay, which may make the difference between a first and a 2.1, due at noon the next day is, quite frankly, immaterial.  Consequently, you go anyway – spontaneous decision number two.

And so, somewhere between gin and a bottle of wine you end up at a bar talking to random strangers.  This because you have chosen to stand at the bar by yourself – spontaneous decision number three – confident in your knowing the barman, the safety of the locale and your tipsy self-assurance.  You only came in for one drink, but accept the second one offered to you – spontaneous decision number four.  Conversation is flowing with the people beside you, as they tell you the most fascinating tales that plunge your own life comparatively into the dull sepia of library books and endless cups of coffee.  There is little of interest to say about yourself, but somehow you manage to glean the wheat from the chaff and show them the slightly better version of yourself.

The bar is about to close, and that essay deadline is edging nearer.  Come back with us – cries the man beside you – we have wine, we have guitars, come!  You mumble excuses about how you really shouldn’t, and know you shouldn’t.  It’s only inevitable that that you end up following them down South Street at 1.30am and find yourself in a flat full of strangers.  Spontaneous decision number five.  And really, you shouldn’t under-estimate the power of red wine, vinyl, talented musicians and the effect these can have on the tired fourth-year soul.  It is inspiring.  You take the guitar, and not normally one to perform for strangers, play.   Spontaneous decision number six.  The adulation makes up for the verses you fumbled through.

You get home just before it starts to get light.  Essay is still not done.  But the reality is, you’ve probably learned far more from drunken Estonians and improvised music than you could ever have done redrafting an essay.  Chances are this will be the best mark you ever get anyway.   What’s more, if the BBC articles and statistics are true, one of the men you met there is bound to end up being your husband. It will be a nice story to tell the grandchildren.  Maybe you will form a fabulous travelling band – then nobody will care if you got a first in that essay or not anyway.  That’s if anybody ever did in the first place.  Spontaneous decision number seven – realising that after five years and £30,000 of debt, studying is not the sole, lasting memory you should have of your final year.


Claire Bagnall