This Student Life: Back in the low life again

They're all partied out and hungover as hell. Some things never change.
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Spring Term, Week 1 at the Manchester Student House

The students are drifting back to their Manchester house after two weeks of Christmas telly. Ian, who has bar shifts to do, is the first back, but his homecoming is ruined by the discovery that the house has been broken into. "They managed to get into Alistair's room," he explains. "We won't know whether anything has been stolen until he comes back from America, but thank God his computer is still there."

Anyway, they've had the window fixed and everything is back to normal. Dani's back in Manchester, Tasha is on her way up north, Robbie and Dave are back at home in Leeds and Sutherland respectively (they've got exams soon, so they've decided to study where they don't have to worry about taxing things such as cooking, washing, food shopping and vacuuming), and Leona's still in Coventry.

So how were the holidays? Ian had a great Christmas at home with his family after he'd spent four days in the Manchester house on his own in bed with flu. "It was better that way," he says stoically, "because it meant I didn't give it to anybody else."

He went on to have a brilliant new year in Edinburgh with his older brother Stuart, Dave and Robbie. Minutes after midnight, in a hogmanay crowd of 200,000, they bumped into Tasha. "I was supposed to be going up to Edinburgh with Leona," explains Tasha, "but of course she changed her mind. I knew the boys were going to be there, but I had given up any hope of meeting up with them. Then at midnight, Ian's mate grabbed me: all the boys were there. It was just so nice."

In fact, Tasha was impressed with Edinburgh. "It was so spectacular," she continues. "You don't get anything like it in London. People go to Trafalgar Square, but what do they do there? There are no bands, the pubs are all shut, nobody's happy - while everyone was really friendly in Edinburgh.

So as a Londoner, is she sick and tired of her home town? "It's not that I think Londoners are unfriendly, I just think the council in Edinburgh made a real effort."

In fact, Tasha had so much fun that she's decided that she really likes living with the boys, no matter how much mooning and laddish banter that involves. She'll be buying Loaded next. "The lads have made me less prudish," she laughs. "At first I thought: `You rough, rough people, stop it!' I thought I was living with complete deviants because of their jokes and the ridiculous things they do. Now I see the funny side of things, because they're not being serious at all. I find their humour more endearing. They will always be crude nine-year-olds. There's nothing you can do about it!" Mind you, this is Tasha, remember, the girl whose ladette credentials include virtually no possessions in her room and a total refusal to cook (takeaways are so much more practical).

But she surprised herself by cooking the entire Christmas dinner for her family. "How festive is that?" she laughs, still amazed at herself. "I don't cook at all! It was quite a surreal occasion. I was thinking, this is going really well. Now I don't think cooking is such a big deal."

Tasha also has something else on the back burner. When Leona gets back, she and Tasha are going to set up a new business.

They've seen Alistair and Dave's little ventures and have decided to organise coach trips to their favourite club, Gatecrasher, which is in Sheffield. "It's so hard to get there from Manchester," says Tasha. "So you can make a couple of hundred pounds a week just sorting the coach out and getting the tickets. It could go horribly wrong, but you've got to show willing..."

Meanwhile across the Atlantic Ocean, Alistair is still on holiday. He's staying with his father in Raleigh, North Carolina, and has met up with some old mates. There is his childhood friend, Lucien, whom he's known since he was three, and Tori, a girl he's known for years. "I was here at Easter last year and ever since there has been `something' between us," he says of Tori. "We've called each other as much as we could afford, and so, coming over here again, I hoped we'd finally be getting together." He and Tori spent Christmas with his dad, his dad's girlfriend, Liz, and her two children. "Tori and I are kind of special," he says. "We've both liked each other since we were about 10. Things are really great between us, probably too good, as I'm going back to Manchester soon, but we've been trying to have as much fun as possible, and we don't want to get too involved."

What odds for this long-distance love affair? Crossing the Atlantic is a long way to go for a night out at the pictures. Undaunted, Tori's planning on coming over to Manchester at Easter, and when Alistair goes to the University of Massachusetts on exchange next year he'll be only a couple of hours' drive away from Tori in New York. So what does Alistair reckon? "We'll see," he says. "But at the moment let's just say we're just living for the memories."











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