In which I consider the idea I wasn’t as miserable at university as I remember.

I am having a whale of a time visiting family (on my own!) in the North.

I will not feel guilty.

Even though the secondary school has gone online because of COVID and my husband has two children at home all day.

I will not feel guilty.

Anyway, on Tuesday, I found myself walking through my old university. Until now, I’ve recalled my six years on that street as unalloyed misery, but what did I find? All I could remember was the good stuff.

Maybe, I was miserable because I was young, and didn’t know who I was and what I was supposed to be doing, not because my life itself sucked. I probably just needed a Starbucks.

The first place I wanted to go was the library. At first, I thought it had been knocked down and replaced by the ugly AQA building. But no, the gardens had been remodelled and I’d taken a wrong turn.

I spent large amounts of my life here, usually in the social sciences block, because it was old fashioned and fit my idea of an academic library. And the wing I was supposed to be in was intimidating – lots of other medical students looking as if they knew far more than me. During breaks on sunny days, I’d read Jane Austen on the grass outside and pretend I was a literature student. (Did I really have no idea I’d chosen the wrong subject?)

My husband and children hardly know the city. So, whenever anybody on the news was interviewed from the Manchester studio, I’ve searched the background behind and pointed out what I thought was the Maths tower. Well I was wrong. That has been knocked down.

I assumed my misery would be activated walking past the medical building. People tell me they want to study medicine and I instantly think of trying to cram the incubation periods of different viruses into my brain -all confusingly similar, but unfortunately not identical. But no! I remembered good things about that building as well: my tutorial group for starters. And Tamsin-the-Terrible, our dissection tutor, picking out the strap muscles on a dead body, and shouting at me, “Come on! They hold your trousers up!” Then me saying in panic, “Braces?” Even she laughed.

I finished at Manchester Royal Infirmary and the pretty Victorian bit of that where I lived for six months (my old room is currently behind the white sheet). Being a new doctor was terrifying and we worked 72-hour weeks, while our bosses -who’d worked 120 – all thought we were pampered lightweights. But we survived it by sticking together, eating takeout in front of Coronation Street, and laughing about things we weren’t supposed to.

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