11 characters you’ll find in any Cambridge library

jrj33 13 November 2015

The Vocal-whisperer

Oftentimes accompanied by a cheeky tipple of Jacob’s Creek, this member of gossip royalty entertains the masses. There’s no denying it. They are loud. And so is their stapler use. Sometimes misheard by their conversational collaborator – repeat utterances are a commonality and source of regular complaint to librarians. Rowdy, rebellious and really into speaking they should not be approached unless out of necessity. If you receive unwanted attention from a vocal-whisperer, please call this 24/7 hotline: 0800 SHUT THE F-… Feel reassured, you are not alone.


The Dramatist and/or Comedian

All the world’s a stage – and this one’s face is framed by a proscenium arch. This gentle creature arrived at Cambridge seeking "theatre with no drama". They've always yearned to tread the boards at the ADC and hoped to do so cool, calm and collected. But tonight, tomorrow, and the day after they have to be off book for 6 shows. And so, accordingly, they write their English essay whilst mouthing their line practise at the screen. And inadvertently, you. Their legs are nearly always crossed up on the chair in a yoga-esque pose. Sometimes they gesticulate. Consciously.


The Nibbles and Refreshments Consumer

This person gave up on their essay about sparrow linguistics the day before it was set. Nonetheless, they soldier on with their theatrical role as library student. Periodically, they make a trip to the vending machine, returning with crisps.  The crisps crunch between their teeth.  Not quite enough for you to say something to them- but enough to ring in your ears like a Walkers factory being demolished. And when they rehydrate with a sip of water, the ping of the plastic as their hand retracts from the bottle walls provides a surprisingly loud slap in the face.

Image credit: Dan Taylor-Watt

The Sleeper

Head slumped and their face buried in the OED, this student pays their respects to the second half of Oxbridge. Their tongue hangs out as a piece of saliva hovers over the definition of “high achiever”. Somewhere along the line somebody told them about a prime minister who only got three hours’ sleep a night, achieving widespread international success and a psychological breakdown. In this state, they are susceptible to becoming the Nest-Maker’s receptacle for screwed up paper balls.  Every fifth hour they become efficient, managing in this time, essays, articles, lab work, and a solution to world peace. Their all-nighter never makes it past 4am.


The Rower

There’s a damp person sitting opposite you. It isn’t raining outside but whilst you’re drowning in essay guilt, specs of water still glisten on their biceps from the morning’s training. This character, unerringly composed, glides through bibliography citation with the most methodical eye for detail you’ve  noticed this morning. Their regime is work hard, play hard, row harder. They throw carb parties. And like parties. And parties like them. They nail their goals to the desk, and never stop until they achieve them. Though things can get awks when they lunge in the book aisles. Especially when that gladiatorial hand blocks the ISBN you need.


The Nest-maker

A sign on the library door reads "please do not reserve work stations". A desk, shrouded in a city of books sits directly in front. A single copy of Homelife, a reading list title shared by 25 + students at the college, rests centrally. A thin film of five week old dust encrusts the front cover. Photo frames, a lamp from Morrocco, a kitchen sink, and a pet cat lend the space an atmosphere of unerring domestic bliss. Too blessed to be stressed, but still quite stressed, its cobwebbed and odorous inhabitant is still clothed in last week’s ball attire.  Bare footed and proud, they are a maniacal genius.

Image credit: Quinn Dombrowski

The Pace-setter

You welcome this one. A logical yet creative thinker, there’s a glint in their eye. Perhaps they’re writing something truly influential. A plan to sustainably regrow the NHS that is both economically and morally sound with a generous clause for junior doctors and infallible protection of patient safety? Or the next Working Title film script, your couples’ shopping list? They type with such eloquence and flow you imagine these skilled hands transferring well to other circumstances. Typewriting for instance. But for now, you use them like a pianist does a metronome- to set the pace of your own typing.  One day they’ll notice how in sync you both are and swipe for you on Tinder.


The Pace-disrupter

Music pumps out from headphones across the room. Heavy bass line. Often Mozart. But you wish this cheeky one would revert to hip hop. You need a bit of bump and grind to liven up this placid afternoon in a cell of the UL. You wonder if a move upstairs would improve your day. They have gold bits on the door ways there like on the Great Gatsby posters of 2013. Maybe there the sound pollution would be just right: like Jay-Z transposed to the Jazz era or something. You could click your pen along to this and piss someone else off.


The Networker (WARNING: This profile contains product placement!)

This one is a self-created BNOC. Their ‘black book’ for ‘coffee’ contacts- Moleskine by brand- sits with a Muji pen in the upper right hand corner of their desk. It perfectly fits the right angle of the grooves carved into the oak frame.  They took a ‘real degree’, like engineering, and counter balance this with a decadent flood of arts-based extra-curricular activity. They’re likely to be employed. The symmetry of their hairstyle is likely to unnerve their colleagues.  As is their obsession with time…they make a polite cough on the hour for fellow students’ benefit.

Image credit: William Brawley

The Sniffing Cougher

They have the coughing fit, don’t get the water, then blow their nose louder than a ship fog horn squeezed by a windy opera singer. The politer ones will nearly sprain their faces trying, unsuccessfully, to quell an outpouring of bodily fluid. No man is an island, but this one should be. (Get well soon x)


The Eye Brow Raiser

This one sees one or all of the above, and feels moved to raise their brow.