Since this is a so-called Bland Blog, it seems appropriate to tell you, my dear reader, about the blandest experience of my life – the dullest hour, the longest lecture.
I’m a student and as such I spend a heck of a lot of time sitting glassy-eyed doodling scarecrows in my 59p refill pad. It’s just part of the job description. Ever since I was 11 and had my first ever R.E. lesson, I’ve been no stranger to the odd useless class. You know the kind – you stare at the ceiling wishing you had the balls to text your mates, wondering if the ancient teacher would even notice if you got up and wandered out. He’s been going on about the ins and outs of Christianity for a while, after all; how much attention would he pay to another blazer-clad pre-adolescent skulking out?
That said, I was by no means prepared for the boredom I’d experience at university. I chose this degree, I thought to myself as I packed my lava lamp and the three hundred condoms my mother insisted on buying me. I’m bound to enjoy every moment of it.
How fucking wrong I was.
Second year of a Russian-and-Slavonic-Studies-with-Czech (formerly English-Literature-and-Russian-and-Slavonic-studies-with-Czech) degree. Russian literature module; the Rise of the Russian Novel. Dostoevsky, Gogol, Tolstoy. What could go wrong?
I rocked up to my first lecture, Thursday at 4 o’clock. Sure, it was a shitty time for a two hour lecture, but how bad could it be? After all, I loved literature; I loved Russian. The worst that could happen was I would drift off for a couple of minutes and miss a minor point about iambic tetrametre.
The first bad sign was the size of the classroom; after my memories of literature lectures, I’d expected an auditorium with seats sloping back into the distance, an interactive whiteboard or two, and hilarity when the new lecturer forgot the microphone. I was shocked when I wandered into a 20-person classroom, blackboard inexplicably covered with equations – this was a far cry from those lectures where the 96pt font on the slides barely reached the latecomers standing at the back.
Steadily the class filed in… all twelve of us. This was going to be intense. I was excited: this was the perfect forum for a lively debate about the relative merit of Dead Souls Part 1 and Dead Souls Part 2: Gogol goes off the rails.
Five minutes the lecture started, and my enthusiasm froze, crawled back into my throat and I started to drown in boredom. To this day (five months later), I still don’t know what it was about him that made everything he said so incredibly dry. He could’ve been talking about bears with flamethrowers and I still would’ve ended up counting my teeth to make sure I wasn’t born with an extra molar. As it was, Russia’s most fertile period of prose in his mouth dried up my brain and made my eyes heavy.
I pride myself on being an interested person; sure, I can’t always guarantee that people will be hooked on what I’m saying, but at least I’m capable about caring about the stuff no one cares about. This was too much.
Twenty minutes in; my notebook was ascrawl with notes I knew I’d never read again. I put my pen down.
Half an hour gone. I’d reread the introduction to The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Stories; suspicions confirmed: Tolstoy is still a genius.
Forty two minutes. Sore bottom. Made eye contact with the girl across from me. She looked like her brain was about to trickle out of her ear; I knew the feeling.
Reached an hour. I had hoped for a toilet break during which I could signal for help from the street. No such luck – apparently this lecturer had seen that trick before. He pressed on with his description of the political climate in 1861.
Seventy eight minutes. I was losing any belief in a world outside this room.
Ninety five. I was born in this room.
One hundred and six. I’d die in this room.
One hundred and twelve. My children’s children would grow up under the desk, entire generations of little Rosies, never seeing the sun.
One hundred and ninetee…
It was over.
It was over! The endless lecture had, miraculously, ended. Along with my fellow students, I rushed down six flights of stairs, out into the light. I breathed the fresh air. I thought about stuff that had nothing to do with Turgenev; I was free.
(Until the next Thursday. And the one after…)