Joy Revision

What sort of person wants to be a student anyway? Richey Edwards for one. Here in an interview from five years ago, the erstwhile Manic talks about the joys of being a swot

"The education system isn't radical enough. It assumes that most students are a decent sort of people and they're not. I thought university would be full of people who wanted to sit around and talk about books and it wasn't like that at all. It was full of people who wanted to sit around and do as little as possible, other than have as much fun as they could. But I never equated university with fun. I thought it was about reading and learning, but for most people, it was about getting laid. Big fucking deal! I went there to study, to learn. I went there to avoid work, to avoid manual labour, whereas most other students were there to enjoy themselves for three years and I found that really offensive. When I went to university I was a virgin. I'd never drunk a drop of alcohol. And that's how it was when I left, except I'd had a few drinks. I used to get woken up constantly by pissed-up students coming home thinking it would be really funny to rampage up and down the corridors knocking on everyone's door, deciding to have a party in the kitchen at 1 am. Pathetic. It reminded me of my first year of comprehensive, all these little idiots whose idea of a good time involved sitting round reciting Young Ones sketches to each other.
I've never seen education as the means to a job. It wasn't about what I was able to do with my History degree in the future. I was just interested in the subject and that seemed to be enough. All these students who sat around saying, "I worked really hard today, I read loads". That's not what I'd classify as work. It was going to a nice library and reading books all day. That was a pleasure and a privilege. Those people who saw it as a career move were the same ones who complained about how hard it was to be a student. I wasn't well off enough and I got a grant, but it wasn't tough at all because I had nothing to spend it on. The people who complained about the money were the ones who wanted to use their grants to go Inter-railing and do all these social activities that held no interest for me in the first year. In the second and third years I'd buy a bottle of wine, sit around and drink it and that would be the full extent of my expenses. Maybe I'd buy a CD as well. All the other stuff - the socialising and drinking and stuff that people say are important parts of university because it teaches you social skills - is fucking nonsense, because you learn that at infant school or comprehensive. Or at least, you're meant to. I think if I'd been able to have a flat of my own it would have been very different because I've never been very good with very many different people. I've always surrounded myself with just a very few people. To hole myself up in a tower block with hundreds of people I had nothing in common with was a really bad experience. Most students should be kicked off courses. That's what I'd introduce straightaway, that if you missed more than two lessons a week, you're drawn up in front of a committee and if you continue not to do your work you're kicked out. What's wrong with that? Surely that is justifiable, otherwise you've just admitted that college is just three years of getting pissed and having a laugh. If you don't want to be there to learn, then drop out. I despised those people who sat in the bar going, "Ooh, I didn't go to one lesson today, I was really rebellious!" When you think of the people who'd dearly love to go to university, and then there idiots turn it into a joke. It's obscene, really. The education authorities shouldn't feel bad about being a bit more authoritarian. They shouldn't worry about introducing more discipline. It's pretty fucking free at university. You can do what you like, wear what you like. All you're obliged to do is go to around ten lectures a week. It isn't such a huge burden on you time, is it? You can go and work in a brilliant library or you can go and work at home. You can do whatever you want, as lone as you do your work, and if you don't then fuck off!"

Richey Edwards did a History degree at Swansea University, 1986 to 1989. He got a 2:1.