It’s mid-October and the golden leaves are now falling steadily, swirling around and sweeping the streets. It’s a time when energy levels can be depressed but often need to
be heightened, as in the case of the many people within my working environment at a local University. For October is a time of enormous activity in any such organisation.
The city centre campus is inevitably teeming with bodies and droves of hopeful and excitable young students, many on their first sojourn from home, pouring along Shakespeare Street and Goldsmith Street. Books and satchels in hand, hopes and fears for the future in heart.
Today as I write it is very sleepy in student land. An 8.15am stroll from the Victoria Centre bus depot sees surprisingly few people or traffic, an unusual scene for the middle of a sizeable city such as Nottingham. It’s a Thursday morning and every Wednesday night is a discount student night in some nightclubs in the city which might offer an explanation for the sluggish and rheumy eyed beginning to the day. By the time I emerge from a lecture mid-morning it will be a different academic world.
The University has seen many recent changes and as I walk around the lower levels of the city-dominating tower of the Newton building it strikes me that I’m standing on the very spot that I did more than thirty years ago. In those days it was in my first incarnation as a student studying Letter Assembly for my job as an apprentice compositor in the print trade. The plush surroundings I’m observing now where once a car park stood which I would kick a ball through with my friends for morning coffee in the refectory.
There really is little comparison with the environs of the Trent Polytechnic of the 1970s and the modern Nottingham Trent University of today with it’s freshly appointed ambiance borne of huge investmen and very few similarities apart from geography. The Newton building has been gutted and refurbished and so has the historic but slightly run down Arkwright building of my teens. Sadly, the building where I was based in the composing room is no longer and has been razed to the ground in aid of progress and a seemingly little-used courtyard.
In those days Trent Polytechnic was largely inhabited by local students who were industrially-based in regular jobs, there appeared to be very few lofty academics in evidence and even people wearing white laboratory coats appeared to consider themselves a superior breed to us printing apprentices in those days. As I look around today there are many overseas students from China, Thailand, Korea and many other far-flung countries surrounding me. It is an interesting and vibrant panorama and this is perhaps just as things should be in the Autumn of 2010. It is however still an interesting comparison with those long days passed of enrolling in 1975 and stepping out of ‘Trent Poly’ in 1980 to face a new decade and the full-time world of work.