I’ve no idea where the University of Southampton is placed in the academic rankings, but what I’m pretty sure about is that, were there an equivalent ranking system for the quality of an institution’s baguettes, Southampton Uni would be very near the bottom.
For reasons that do not concern the reader, I found myself tired and hungry in Southampton of a Saturday lunchtime. I took a chance on an outlet that was quite clearly under the jurisdiction of the aforementioned town’s seat of learning, and got off to a less than auspicious start when it transpired that around 90% of all the substantive savoury snacks on offer came courtesy of Ginsters. Nonetheless, among the pies and pastries, and surrounded by posters enjoining me to “vote for Claire for Student Rep and get a new condom machine in the toilets”, I found something that seemed moderately nutritious: an egg and tomato baguette.
Now it takes a lot for me to fail to finish a baguette. Congratulations, then, to Southampton University for doing what was required to ensure this occurrence. It must be admitted that a pre-packaged baguette should always be treated with a degree of suspicion, but I was hoping for something of at least a miserably adequate standard – ‘satiscraptory’, you might say.. The tomato in the baguette, however, rendered the bread intolerably soggy, and the egg tasted like what I imagine baby food tastes like (maybe people shouldn’t vote for Claire, so as to ensure that students at Southampton have plenty of babies and thus create creatures capable of enjoying it). A pack of Tyrell’s pretentious crisps went only a very small way to attenuating this thoroughly soul-destroying experience.
Maybe it is unfair to single out Southampton. It may be that, rather like the courthouses in Kafka’s The Trial, substandard baguettes are surreptitiously seeping in through the crevices of every institution up and down the country. What I do know, however, is that I am glad I am not a student anymore.