The all-nighter: A survivor’s tale

Elsa Maishman 23 January 2015

Friday night. I am aware that for some people this might mean something special, out of the ordinary. However, I find myself spending yet another evening sat my desk hunched over a computer screen – an activity which consumes so much of my life that it’s as far away from ‘out of the ordinary’ as it is possible to be. 

8:00 p.m.

I refuse a friend’s invitation to go and get drunk in another staircase with the rueful excuse that ‘I’m working.’ I wish it were true. In  actual fact I’ve spent the last hour trawling through the web, searching for the perfect summer placement advertised by friendly  non-axe-murderers in which I can simultaneously become fluent in both French and Spanish whilst gaining valuable CV-boosting work experience and making the world a better place. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s not going too well.

12:30 a.m.

The staircase is silent – a testament to the proportion of Saturday morning lecture-goers that I live with. I attempt to make a cup of tea, but with a jolt, I notice that the expiration date on my milk has now become yesterday. It smells vaguely of cheese, but the alternative is no tea at all, so I pour it in and hope for the best. 

2:00 a.m.

The perfect summer placement has not yet materialised. For a brief moment I consider doing my ‘use of French’ homework. but decide instead, for some reason, that updating my CV will be more productive.

4:00 a.m.

Nearly two hours of wrestling with LibreOffice formatting later, I need more tea. And some cornflakes. However, by this time the milk’s pungency has increased. Maybe I should have put it back in the fridge after that last cup. Not satisfied with dry cornflakes, I raid the gyp room cupboards, frustrated to find them carb-free. No bread, no cake, not even a single crumpet. Distressed, I contemplate breaking into someone’s room through the fire escape just to raid their fridge. I briefly consider going into the library to see if I could convince anyone still awake to lend me some. Probably not.

5:30 a.m.

As the carb-cravings begin to take over, I am too hungry to sleep. Venturing out of college in search of milk seems unwise, so I sneak down to the gyp room on the floor below. In a shadowy corner, I am overjoyed to find a full, glorious loaf of bread. I pilfer two slices and return to my nocturnal procrastination.