I'm having an interesting time as a new student. A postgraduate student in fine art, in fact. A weird experience it is, walking round the campus being the oldest person in sight (unless there lurk lecturers who are 'senior citizens' too, but I doubt it). Since it's been nearly 40 years since I was last a student, I have been on a double learning curve. Gone are the library card indexes which threw up (or so I thought at the time) so many serendipitous connections; gone are the one to two ratio tutorials with tutors; gone are the all-day drinking sessions (I made that one up, of course) . . . gone are the student grants - even in the early years of Thatcherism you could still get a mature students grant - it paid for everything (I was classed as a mature student even then). Long gone too, since the time I was at Hull University are the days when Philip Larkin was librarian, now most people with an education couldn’t name a university librarian. Naturally computers, nay iPads are at the centre of things today. Since I resolutely can't be arsed with social media, I may be at a disadvantage. It seems a lot of discourse takes place in that blessed arena, which probably explains why young people aren't drinking as much as they used to do.
All this new experience – enrolling as a student pensioner – begs the question ‘how old do I think I am?’ It is a question not unrelated to the recent stuff in the news about the NHS website survey where you are asked to impart details of your life so that an algorithm can suss out how old your heart actually is. It seems that most UK hearts are somewhat older than the vehicles to which they are fitted. Perhaps it would be an interesting survey to ask people how old they think they are, apart from acknowledging how many birthdays they’ve had. I’d like to think that I’m stuck around 40 – once upon a time that was an age when maturity could be savoured whilst the benefits of youth hadn’t been entirely wasted.