The Boar: Reflections on a three-year stint

All good things must come to an end. But that surely means no bad thing can last forever? Case in point, today I finished my degree. As all finalists will know, and all first- and second-years will no doubt suspect, degrees seem to take up a lot of your time during the endgame of term three. This generally corresponds with a dropping off in all other activities, apart from those classified as ‘avoidance tactics’ – Sporcle, Facebook, learning chess or shorthand… you know the score. The embattled, less cynical side of me sees this ‘term three condition’ as the reason for the conspicuously absent flurry of student political activity we were promised after the evil Union Council got rid of one of our least evil sabbaticals. But enough said on that here. Rather, I wish to go back to my first point; good things ending. This will be the last ever article I write for the Boar. And despite the countless hours of heartbreakingly fastidious photoshopping, proof-reading and 2am finishes – when you tread lugubriously and browbeaten out of a dark and empty Union North, through the backdoor – I have loved every minute of it. Tragic.

Seeing as no good swan-song is complete without at least some casual reference to impressive statistics I will do so now. In the three years I have worked for Warwick’s most underrated student newspaper, I have authored around 50 articles, although the exact number becomes ever harder to determine as time goes on; all of my old editorials were unsigned, identifiable only through their penchent for radical direct action, and a number of the ‘P. O’Neill’ contributions from 2008 have been lost, uncounted, due to my better judgement. This mounts up to something published every issue, and if you include the aforementioned P. O’Neill letters, and all the cartoons which have regularly adorned this section, you’re looking at a book’s worth. I even counted it up. A very conservative estimate would be 50,000 words. I haven’t written 50,000 words for my actual degree.

Back as a fresh-faced comment editor in 2008-09 the hours at the Boar were long as well. A 20 hour week wasn’t exceptional, but in those days the paper was orientated towards production values, and decent writers were worth more than saffron and gold. I, or an unfortunate comment deputy editor, of which I surrounded myself with only the most attractive and, occasionally, talented, would squint, monk-like at the screen, with a caffeinated concentration as we slowly developed the arthritic claw well known to computer gamers and production afficionados alike. Our quarry would be the perfect image cut-out to accompany yet another article about Facebook or the X Factor. It almost needn’t have mattered whether or not the text was just the same sentence copied and pasted over and over. We used to publish such wretched drivel in an ever-expanding section war with News. But it was how the paper looked that really mattered. After all, nobody read the Boar in those days. They probably still don’t.

I have seen five editors come and go, and with them more style changes and paradigm shifts than I care to recall. Student papers are the media manifestation of the ‘grass is always greener’ aphorism; never happy how they are. With my departure from the Boar I leave with a number of wonderful experiences, which, sadly, in less than a year will no longer be in living (institutional) memory. It’s always about the little things, the personal, ethnographic history that gets lost: like how the office used to resemble an indoor bonfire, waiting for the spark. Papers would litter the floor, so much so that former editor Leo Robson, a shambolic and intense character, would clamber atop the hill of old Boars in the middle of the room in order to deliver his weekly edicts. Or, going back a bit further, how the above symptoms leading to journalistic burn-out were lovingly referred to as ‘Peacock’s Disease’, after David Peacock, an editor in the 70s who gasped his way to the end of about ten issues before collapsing from exhaustion.

If this article has any point at all it is probably something to do with this loss of memory. We no longer see ourselves as a community, which is sad. Delving through all the old archives for the last issue’s Union feature really put this in sharp relief. But I want to leave the polemicising aside for now. Having flogged the horse to death with criticisms of capitalism and various inequality regimes for the last few years I doubt anybody really listens any more.

If there is any parting advice then, it is to enjoy every moment of what you do, and God damn it, do something while you are here. It’s over in the blink of an eye, and it would be awful to taint your memories of Warwick with an unshiftable regret. For this reason alone, I could never resent the hundreds of hours I sacrificed at the altar of student journalism. But I have to go now. A bottle of wine on the piazza awaits. I wish you all the best. Peace.

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