By Siân Daniel
The balloons are popped, the banners down, and yellow T-Shirts banished to the back of drawers all around Durham. An eery sense of normality fills the Bar and a marquee-shaped patch of oddly-coloured grass overrides the grounds outside it, whilst the distant scent of burnt Welfare toast slowly fades away from the JCR Corridor. Butler Freshers 2012/13 have officially landed.
There’s no doubt that this time of year takes us all back. When terms like ‘demoralising’, ‘dole’ and ‘debt’ are the first to crop up when asked to sum up the real world in a single word, it’s to some surprise that there isn’t a group of us old Butlerites out there somewhere, desperately putting their heart and soul into trying to develop a time machine that would transport them all back to their own Freshers’ Sunday. Oh to be eighteen again, gingerly passing under the red and yellow balloon arch and entering the realms of the unknown; blissfully unaware that the best years of our lives lay ahead.
But what is it that really makes Freshers’ week so special? From the outside, it would be easy to look at the pricey inflatables that lay virtually untouched throughout the daytimes, or the Bar falling deserted by 1.00am thanks to the University’s latest questionable regulations on opening hours, and question whether the week was a really success at all. We claim that Matriculation is special, but nobody ever looks particularly enthralled about it at that hour in the morning; it only takes a quick glance at the feigned smiles in your Matriculation photo for that to be glaringly obvious. And what’s a Freshers’ Week when the University only lets you go on two nights out all week, right? Hell, Studio wouldn’t even let us in for 50p on the Stroll this year. A recipe for disaster it would seem.
Of course, Freshers’ Week 2012 was not a disaster at all. The real reason why we all remember that week so fondly became well and truly apparent as the curtains were drawn on the Saturday night’s Jungle Party, the final event of this year’s Freshers’ calendar. As the new intake of Butlerites – interspersed with exhausted Freps and Proctors – formed circles and put their arms around each other to emotionally see out the night with a heartfelt rendition of Robbie’s ‘Angels’, it was clear that our work there was done. The Butler Spirit had grasped 250 new people into its tight clutches, in the space of just 7 short days*.
* or very, very long days if you were a Frep, as I’m sure many of you can sympathise with…
It’s moments like those which really put things into perspective; that realisation that no matter who comes and who goes, the Butler community lives on and thrives on regardless. Although it can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that Butler still ticks along like clockwork as if we’d all never been there, it’s comforting in a way to know that we had our time, and even though the ‘us’ of tomorrow are now having theirs, there will never be another you, or another me. There will be new sports; new societies; new favourite club nights; new drinks in the Bar (yes Rekorderlig); new rules; new T-Shirt designs; new events; and of course, new people. The Butler Spirit lives on regardless. But there will never be another Butler Freshers 2009… or 2008, or 2007, or 2006.
And that’s what makes me think; maybe I wouldn’t go back after all. The Freshers’ Week we each experienced was tailor-made by every moment, every decision and every opportunity we created throughout those 7 days. There’s so much that could have been different if even the slightest thing had been altered: the embarrassing photos that there wouldn’t be to look back and laugh at if my flatmates didn’t each have a signature dance move that we all liked to copy; the people I wouldn’t have sat near in lectures if I hadn’t bumped into them and had the old ‘what’s your name? what’s your subject?’ conversation; the friends I wouldn’t have made if I hadn’t spent so long trying to cut my Stroll t-shirt into something more stylish and subsequently ended up near the back of the line chatting to them. The truth is: it would still have been amazing, but it just wouldn’t have been the same.
Alumni Reunion: Manchester, Saturday 1st December 2012
Now seems the perfect time to remind everyone of this opportunity to reunite with the people that made your Butler experience so special. This year’s external Alumni Reunion will be held in Manchester on Saturday 1st December, at the Per Tutti Italian restaurant. Ticket prices will include a 3 course meal and drinks reception in our own private dining area, plus, of course, the priceless opportunity to fill a room with Butler Alumni, both old and new. Information and booking forms will be emailed out very soon, so keep an eye on your inboxes and keep that date free in your diaries. It would be incredible to see as many of you there as possible, re-engaging with that Butler Spirit. Comme Je Trouve.