We've never been in with the in-crowd; This Student Life

Summer Term, week 4 at the Manchester Student House; Student life may be one long round of parties, but nothing compares to meeting Ringo Starr in Harrods. Is Manchester losing its magic?

ROSIE WENT to the back-stage party after a Stereophonics gig and, despite the frisson, kept her cool when the lead singer Kelly Jones was within grabbing distance. "The band were really brilliant on stage but Kelly Jones is a bit short in real life," she reveals.

"All these people kept going up to him and telling him how great he was, and he looked really annoyed. A few girls were getting a bit excited about seeing him."

Rosie decided not to strike up a conversation with the singer. Even though she was tempted, she maintained a dignified distance. "I didn't have the guts," she admits, "although I'm not really in awe of anyone. The only time I was star-struck was when I met Ringo Starr while I was working at Harrods." Although the gig was one of the highlights of her week, the party was an anti-climax. "We left the party quite early, because we felt a bit uncomfortable. I certainly don't feel that I'm `in' with the Manchester crowd," says Rosie.

In September, she will leave Manchester and spend a year in Bordeaux, as part of her French course. "I'm not really bothered that I'm going there," she admits, "but I've heard it's beautiful and sunny. No one else from the University is going, so it's just me in the big wide world of Bordeaux."

Alistair is preparing for his summer trip to Africa - with a course of injections. "I can't wait to go back- packing around Africa on my own," he says. "I've had hepatitis A today and I've got rabies tomorrow, which should be fun... I've worked out that I've got around eight injections to go, and I've got typhoid just before my first exam."

Magic Monday, the club night he promotes, is proving to be a great success, and the proceeds will help pay for his flight. "It's been going for nine weeks now, and last Monday we had 290 people in, while our nearest competitor only had 60," he boasts. "I've definitely made some decent money out of it. We've done all the hard work so now all we have to do is put up posters, man the door, and it runs itself."

In September, Alistair will jet off to spend a year in America... but Magic Monday will live on. He is leaving the club night to his co- promoters. "They've negotiated a deal so that it can run for another year," he says. "Maybe I'll take it over when they leave college and I come back after my year out."

On his year out, Alistair will be attending the University of Massachusetts, and he won't be too sorry to leave Manchester behind. "I'm looking forward to it, because it's cold and it rains all the time here. I get fed up with English weather and I like new challenges. I need a change. I love my friends in Manchester, but I like the challenge of going out to meet new people."

He is careful not to give the impression that he will be spending a year partying, and discusses the merits of the business management course he will be taking. "It includes entrepreneurship and society and American foreign policy and the economic relationships with other countries. The whole thing will be from an American perspective, so whether they'll tell the whole truth or not will be interesting."

In preparation, Alistair has been following the Kosovar crisis. "America still sees itself as the imperial power, but countries like China are coming up, and the US can't just throw its weight around any more," he believes. "The whole situation is morally wrong.

"It's not a bi-polar world anymore with America against Russia. America needs to be more tactful." He pauses, to consider his American girlfriend's reaction. "I hope she doesn't read this," he says. "They're all so patriotic over there."

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