What an exciting time last week was! Two important traditions loomed large in Uni Hall: the annual ball and Secret Admirers week. The ball was fun. That’s all I have to say about it, really. Some people got up to tricks; everyone looked smashing; a few of the songs were good and others not so much.
In short, the ball was enjoyable but didn’t strike me as anything particularly out of the ordinary. For me anyway, the real highlight of the week was Secret Admirers.
This was essentially a Secret Santa-type thing with a romantic twist. It was done on a floor basis; everybody who signed up was given a floor-mate to “admire” anonymously over the coming week, and someone was allocated them in turn. We filled out forms about our favourite foods and celebrity crushes to give our admirers a few ideas, but what the S.A.s actually did was left up to them. We were instructed to get creative, writing letters and making posters. Nothing overly sexual or creepy was permitted – this was all about showing the objects of our admiration how much they were appreciated.
On Sunday evening the long-awaited piece of paper was slipped under our doors. To my excitement I was paired up with Hannah – the same stunning individual I’d shared my recent pizza adventures with! Here was a person I had no qualms about doing nice things for. This presented a problem, however: how to proceed without giving away I knew her well. I decided to play it safe and stick to what she’d written on her form. I don’t want to embarrass her too much here, but one of the more unusual items she’d requested was a bottle of Fiji Water. Don’t ask me. I think she just has a slight obsession with that fancy variety of bottled water. Not one to judge, I snuck out and bought her a bottle to wake up to the next morning. The rest of the week followed this routine. Each night I’d deposit things outside her door in the wee hours of the morning when I could be sure I wouldn’t be caught. For the most part, this plan progressed without any hitches. I left a few notes (handwritten – I was a little worried she’d recognise my scrawl), a packet of tim tams, a bizarre photoshop hash of Hannah in the Maldives.
On Thursday, however, disaster struck. Hannah is very musically talented. She has the most amazing timbre to her voice. It was no surprise, then, that she was roped in to help another Floor 10 resident record a song for the person he was admiring. They had chosen to do this in the early morning in the common room. Here’s the thing: Hannah’s room is on one wing of the building (the east), mine on the other (the west). To get to her room, I would’ve had to have gone past the common room, and Hannah would have seen me. Even if I tried to hide my gifts, she would know I was up to something: why else would I be walking to her wing so late at night? Initially, I thought I could wait them out. But they seemed hell-bent on staying up all night: come 2 o’clock, they showed no signs of leaving. I would have to devise an alternative plan. And thus, at 2 o’clock in the morning, not wanting to trespass on any other inhabited floor, I could be seen in my slippers and pyjamas descending the stairs to Floor 1, crossing to the other side of the building, climbing up the other flight of stairs to Floor 10, depositing a letter outside Hannah’s door, before trudging all the way down and up again. Yes. I slept like a log that night.
But enough about who I had and what I did for them. What about my secret admirer? It was immediately apparent they were prepared to go to great lengths of thought and generosity. On the Monday I woke up to a beautiful notebook with lovely hand-drawn Doctor Who illustrations on the cover. I was very touched, but I had no idea who my mysterious benefactor could be. On Wednesday they kindly left me a carton of custard and a bottle of ready-made pancake mix. Again, very thoughtful gifts – pancakes and custard are two of my most favourite foods! (I’m going to try my luck making pancakes in the communal toastie machine sometime as we have no stove.) Still I had no clue as to their identity.
Thursday was the day that made me a huge fan of my secret admirer. Owing to the episode with the stairs mentioned earlier I hadn’t got much sleep. I was tired and grumpy. I went to morning class having missed breakfast. When I came back to the hall, a surprise was in store for me. As I rounded the corner and came down the corridor to my room, I noticed there was something wrong with my door. It almost appeared to be glowing… I could see more clearly as I got closer and I realised what it was. Someone had decorated my entire door to resemble a TARDIS! It was beautiful. They had even copied out the sign: “Police Telephone. Free for use of public…”
I couldn’t believe it. Someone – no, I knew who: my secret admirer – they had gone to so much trouble, put in a huge amount of their precious time and effort into this. I was so grateful. I felt undeserving of all this kindness, and didn’t quite know what to do. My spirits had lifted. I, like my door, was glowing.
By now I had my suspicions as to who was behind all this, and on the night of the ball my secret admirer revealed herself to me. It was the wonderful Johanna who I had to thank for my notebook and my door. I can’t say it enough: thank you Johanna. Everything you’ve done has meant a lot to me and I really, really appreciate it. The TARDIS is staying up all year; I’m never taking it down!
All in all I deeply enjoyed the Secret Admirers week, both the giving and receiving, and also seeing the crazy things other people got up to. The whole thing was an outpouring of respect and goodwill. It felt a little like Christmas. This is the kind of pure, wholesome experience you have to look forward to if you’re going to stay in a hall next year.