Plymouth sucks. There, I have said it. After a looong day and a delay of 1.5 hours added to our 4 hour round trip yesterday, I had had enough. I used to like the impersonal nature of visiting cities (lurking rather than working in them); you can project anything you want onto it. You could be part of a shoal and it didn't matter - just passing through, don't mind me. If the assignments show me anything, it is about the role of the observer vs participator. Crowd watching used to fascinate me - see people from all aspects of life and wonder who they were and what their stories are. When I started at Plymouth, I liked the autumn, because the trees were so brightly coloured in a way that a granite, wind-swept peninsula could never be. I liked the idea of industrial/rural/quirky as an amalgam.
Increasingly, though, I have shifted from observer to participator - by the sheer dint of traveling there several times a week and working in the environment. The external world becomes in-yer-face and subsequently you internalise it. I know at some point I will look at Plymouth with fond affection; right now, I see it as a dump. Within the crowd, the facelessness that I craved suddenly has turned me into a cog within the industry, whether it is lumped together in the education system or stuck together in a backed-up train. I should have known, or at least anticipated this. I didn't experience that transition from one state to the other. I just woke up resentful, no longer appreciating the autumn leaves of Bodmin, or the bridge over bubbled brown waters of the Tamar. For some reason, the English degree group I am in is denied the other modern buildings with its glittering chrome and glass. We mostly dwell in a big impersonal 'Penlowarth'-style prison building, which includes a sadistic lift that claims a blood sacrifice every once in a while, leaving a knackered lump like me straining for breath on the fourth floor. The building is as ugly as sin (who the architect was who created the Babbage Building - sold his soul to the Little Dark Gods of Carbuncular Creation).
Hell is a train with free-range loonies on it and no iPod because you left it at home on charge. There is a pay off, invariably. Whether it is smoking, drinking, chocolate or any other form of drugs (frowned upon or not), it is our only innoculation against the stinking grit hole that is the city. Sorry Plymouth - not a fan.
The Waste land sucks too.