It’s the final SCAN of the year, which, apparently, gives us editors free rein to be as self-indulgent as we like. I mean, just take a look for yourself. In this issue of SCAN we’ve got an opinion piece on SCAN in Comment, a piece on the history of Carolynne in Features, and a Carolynne front cover that’s a dead ringer for a copy of Carolynne from the 1960s. This week’s SCAN is just so full of SCAN. It’s an infinite SCAN loop, an endless SCAN black-hole, stuffed with enough earth-shattering news to keep the University angry all summer, enough Culture to fill up the end-of-term void, and (presumably) enough typos to keep Overheard at Lancaster happy for an evening. We do try our best to cater for everyone, we really do.
So I’m assuming you’ll allow me to keep the self-indulgent streak going a little while longer.
With any luck, this editorial will be the last piece I ever write for this Little Student Publication That Could. It will be the end of a long, winding, obstacle-littered road, and I would probably be totally sad about it if I weren’t writing this at 1.30am, a few hours before the paper is due to go to print.
I wrote my first two articles shortly after moving to Lancaster, way back in late 2010. There was a small review of a TV on the Radio side project for the Culture section that only got published online. The other was a Features article, a pretty scathing attack on nightclubs and the people that like them. It was a bloody great article (told you this would be self-indulgent). And there was a great joke in it about night-clubbing and seal-clubbing being essentially the same thing, my one great joke, a joke I have failed to surpass ever since. It was all downhill after that, really, though I had a lot of fun tumbling down said hill.
It nearly didn’t happen though. I nearly didn’t submit it; out of sheer laziness if nothing else. I tapped the thing out on my phone whilst lying in bed, not long after receiving an e-mail from the Features Editor. I lied to her, of course, and told her I didn’t know how to use SCAN’s upload system, and she believed me, and it got published (on a double page spread, no less!) in the nest issue of SCAN. It was awesome. I was hooked. My mum still has a copy of it in the pantry, for some reason. So, naturally, I carried on, and wrote more, and got involved more, until they eventually started asking me to write these stupid ‘Carolynne Editor’ columns. I wouldn’t be typing this, probably, if I hadn’t woken up early that morning with a great joke about seals in my head and lied to the Features Editor. And, although I am very tired and stressed right now as a result, I am glad I woke up and wrote the damn thing.
I would rather not make some pseudo-philosophical point at this juncture. After all, last issues and pseudo-philosophy go together like last issues and self-indulgent editorial columns (ie – really fucking well). But I feel like I’m heading in that direction anyway. I am glad I woke up that morning because ‘Doing SCAN’ has made this whole ‘University’ experience worthwhile. I have found meaning here. It has not made this ‘the best years of my life’. But it has made coming here worthwhile. And it has made me savour everything else I’ve done here a little bit more too.
You can find this meaning wherever. It could be on Bailrigg FM, or on C Floor of the library, or in the Swimming Pool, or on the Football Pitch, or in History or in Physics or in English. But I feel like if you don’t dive into things, like SCAN or anything else, full on dive in, just because, then University – any University – is going to be a monumentally mediocre experience. Because the default setting of any University is degree providing nostalgia machine. Here is your 2:1 degree certificate that will not help you find a job, it says! Here is your Facebook photograph album full of ‘Sugarhouse Memories’, it says! Come back to our fun alumni events, it says! Make sure to tell your kids and your friends and kids’ kids and friends’ kids to come here too, it says!
This is the alternative to ‘just because’ – drifting. Drift through your three years and you’ll probably find yourself with plenty of shiny, vaguely positive impressions of ‘good nights’ that you can’t actually remember and a degree certificate for something you never really actually cared about. This is what my first year was like, which I spent at another University. It was drifty, and it was hollow and boring and pointless, and it was super super shit. Lancaster, SCAN in particular, as well as my friends in the History department, have made my three years here worthwhile. I did the stuff I have done just because, and felt far better for it. I felt far better than in my first year at that other University, where I did things because I thought I should, or because it would look good on a CV. I now I have zero intention to go into journalism (indeed, I think SCAN may have put me off this career path forever). But I don’t really care! I had fun doing it. And I would do it again. I doubt I would have felt this way if I were doing it to impress other people, or to improve my CV. Just doing it, just because, made it worth it.