Devoid of much of a social life, with the lack of confidence in general interaction developed over the years of bullying, I was always a bit of a nerd at school. Still… I was pretty pleased with getting straight As in my A-Levels, though I messed up my Cambridge interviews – which I always look back on with a bit of regret. I went to a couple of open days at Cambridge colleges, and the one that I really liked was Gonville and Caius. Almost inevitably there was a girl involved. Rachel, if I remember correctly.
At the open day, we just hit it off. Got on so well with each other it was unbelievable. At the end of the day we had drinks and ended up chatting in the room she was staying in. Drawing silly doodles and trying to guess what each one was doing. We eventually went to sleep at around 4am, in the same bed, cuddling and kissing, but no sex… But it was still great just being with her. Amazing smile. We went our separate ways and stayed in touch; both of us saying that we would apply to the same college… Which I tried to do but my school didn’t let me because a couple of other students were applying to the same one and they wanted to increase the chances of more students going to the university. I applied instead to another one that had a reputation for being much more academic. Three interviews there and I didn’t get accepted. Rachel applied to Caius and got in. Needless to say, it fizzled out between us and I often wonder, even though wondering about “what might have been” is a complete waste of time and energy… It stuck in the head.
So stuck with a second choice university (which my history teacher, probably seeing my scepticism, told me was great), I decided to take a gap year: go to Brazil. Kind of another new start, where literally nobody knew me, put everything behind me, enjoy the millennium over there; and I could get a completely new experience of life. Plus of course the stereotypical view of beautiful Brazilian women certainly appealed to me.