That Girl


Soon it was time to get back to Oxford Poly for the first day of term and results. I passed both exams, one fairly average B but the other a more promising B+. Satisfied with this, I began two business modules, which seemed a bit easier. This was a good term. I played loads of football and worked hard into the night. I got to know a lot of people and was enjoying life. Then I met a girl one night. I was completely drunk at the Bop chatting to someone I knew when I noticed her friend. Continue reading



As the first term drew to a close, reading week was followed by exams. I worked long and hard in my room for my first two law subjects. I drank lots of coffee and took caffeine tablets so I could work into the night. Quite often, I studied at the Bodleian Law Library, usually finding a desk at the back overlooking the rugby and football pitches. Sitting there, I revised incessantly. Behind me were row upon row of shelves crammed with law books, which seemed to make me work harder. Continue reading

Getting Into It

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It was the first day of Fresher’s week. I went along, but all the student societies looked a bit shite to be honest, so I didn’t sign up for anything. What I did join was the queue for free cash. It was student grant time and I needed money for the term. I stood, waiting in line and met a bloke calIed Danny, who was a great laugh. At that point, I knew only the students at Heyford Hill – of whom I had met a lot more, seeing as there were seven houses full of students – so I arranged to meet Danny at the Friday night Student Union party called the Bop. It was a crowded, very pissed evening and I had a great time with Danny and the others from Heyford Hill. It all got a bit rowdy on the dance floor when The Pogues came on. People were jumping up and down, pushing left and right, when I was shoved into some bloke. He turned and cocked a right fist to punch me. Danny launched a Pogues-like dance forwards and pushed him aside. It saved me from taking a punch. We laughed and jumped up and down uncoordinatedly to the music. Continue reading



My brother, Marky, agreed to drive me to college. I travelled light and only had one box of stuff in the back of his car. During the journey, we chatted and caught up with what I’d been up to in America. When we arrived in Oxford hours later, he parked and I asked directions to the accommodation office. There was a big queue of students so we got in line for the keys to my room, which took about an hour. When the paperwork was complete, there was yet another queue for directions to the various halls of residence. Marky was neither student-friendly nor the most patient person in the world. As we joined the back of another queue, he wasn’t happy. Continue reading

Leaving The Bubble


In the lull following radiotherapy, I try to concentrate on more pleasant times and thoughts float to when I visited Oxford Polytechnic for an open day. I borrowed a car and set off in the cold, early morning February darkness. Continue reading

The Last One


I arrive for the last radiotherapy session, number thirty. Only ten minutes earlier, I was leaning against a wall and throwing up. With watery eyes, I wiped my face and made my way into hospital. After a fifteen minute wait, my name is called and I put down a magazine about the latest celebrity bullshit. I walk past the other patients and into the whitewashed treatment area. Continue reading



I go into the final sessions of radiotherapy and am so unwell. Through the waves of tiredness, I stop at my favourite doorway to retch and vomit before making it into hospital and telling the radiotherapy operators I’m not okay but want the treatment anyway. It feels like torture as my head and shoulders are strapped to the bench using that green mask. The horrible blue light flashes through my head to metallic clunking sounds. The smell of steamed broccoli fills my nostrils. Continue reading

This Is My Low


I get up feeling drained and go to the bathroom for my usual morning routine, which involves flushing my PEG (the tube inserted into my stomach in case I need to be fed that way) through with water to prevent it from getting blocked up. It’s an odd sensation to have cold flushing into my stomach while everything else is warm. As I make my way back into the bedroom, I hit my foot against the bed. Pain rushes through me and I look down to see blood around my toes. Michelle helps me clean and strap it up. Continue reading

A Burning Inside


It’s a New Year’s Day and I write “The year of being healthy” in my diary. During the day, I stay in bed and watch The Great Escape. I’ve always enjoyed that film, but the title has a different meaning for me now. Continue reading

Grit My Teeth


It gets a lot more difficult from here on in. The sickness and vomiting is rampant, and my memory is hazy. The next three radiotherapy sessions take me to Christmas Eve. As a detraction from the radiation firing through my head, the operators play music. After I get dressed, I give the operators a nice bottle of wine each as a present and chat for a moment. We talk about where we’re spending Christmas and one operator asks how things are going. I had to be honest. Continue reading