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  • Henry Michael

Letters to the Editor

University life can be hard. To this end, I've compiled a list of some of the most common questions I was asked during my time as Student Councellor at Cardiff University, up to and including my untimely dismisal at the hands of the student electorate.


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Dear Henry,


I have self-confidence issues and am worried that I won’t fit in at university next year because I’m not cool enough. Is this rational?


Absolutely not. Having seen the photo you attached, I’d say you’re much more likely to not fit in because of your weight. I’d be very surprised if people judge you beyond your obvious girth. Hope this helps with your confidence issues.


I was thinking of taking up a new hobby for the summer. Any ideas?


Cardiff is home to Bute Park, one of the largest and greenest open spaces in the whole of Europe, so now’s a great time to take up a new outdoor team sport, such as dogging. It’s very social but quite physically exerting, so bring a towel.


I’m passionate about politics and like to campaign for positive causes. How good are the opportunites to do this at Cardiff?


Very. Welsh students have always been a drive of political change; up until the 90’s, women in Welsh society were still considered to be equal to sheep, but in 1998, we managed to get that haggled up to goats. Likewise, we also managed to get a petition signed against third-world sweatshops, where we successfully changed the maximum number of hours children can work to just 20. Unfortunately we forgot to specify “per week”, so they’re now doing twice as much work as before - bit of a shame really, you can tell they’re tired because the stitching’s got weaker, I’ve had to start buying my trainers elsewhere. Another popular choice is to sponsor a child from a deprived third world country, though now the Severn Bridge has become free again, you might as well deliver the goat there yourself.


Helo, rwy'n siarad Cymraeg ac yn dechrau yng Nghaerdydd 'leni. Oes unrhyw gyfleuoedd i gymdeithasu gyda siaradwyr Cymraeg eraill a chynnal fy mamiaeth?


Please spell-check your questions before sending them in, it is rude.


My girlfriend of 10 years left me out of the blue. It feels like my life is over – what do I do now?


Life can be cruel, but the only way forward is to stay positive. When mum ran off twice with an amnesiac, my dad could easily have sunk into depression - but instead of giving up, he chose to lighten the atmosphere at home by involving us in loads of silly games, like reversing the family car into a resevoir, or our personal favourite, “cut daddy down from the ceiling fan”. Regular daytrips to the adoption home helped boost everyone’s spirits, even if he did often forget to pick us up again – and we soon came to learn that as long as you look for it, every cloud can have a silver lining. I don’t know why he left home.


Being a student, I can’t afford to shop anywhere other than the big supermarkets, but I detest the way they cut costs through unethical animal conditions. Who are the worst offenders to avoid?


Living on a student loan can make it very hard to shop ethically, but it’s important to take positive steps wherever you can. Tescos is famous for treating its livestock badly; to cut costs, animals are housed inside larger animals, and sheep are forced to spend 10 hours a day running their own abattoirs, everything from admin down. Meanwhile, poultry conditions at Lidl are pretty much the same as Guantanamo Bay – all the chickens are regularly waterboarded, wear orange jumpsuits, and one of the farmers is hired to creep round the back of the cages and whisper things in their ears like “chop chop” and “you’ll be dinner soon, you fluffy bollock”. The prices at these places may be low, but we must do everything we can to encourage responsible brands, much like Waitrose, whose animals live in the apartments from Centre Parcs and attend regular trips to the National Theatre.

I’ve fallen in love with my flatmate, but I don’t know if she likes me back. Is it a mistake to pursue something?


It’s not strictly a no-no, but it does put a lot of pressure on your friendship, as we all know sex can be awkward enough at the best of times. I still rarely talk to my uncle. If you really do want to discuss your feelings, then you have to make sure that you approach the conversation in a way that doesn’t make her feel emotionally responsible and guilty if she says no. Either that or tell her you’re dying - but make sure you chose something that has a plausible quick recovery, I’ve been dragging around a dialysis machine for 2 years.


I seem to be attracted to tough-man types. They make me feel safe and protected, but they invariably end up cheating on me or leaving without reason. Why is this?


Not to stereotype, but macho men are often quite unpredictable. My uncle left his wife without saying why, and he was one of the most manly men I knew – running his own wrestling lessons for sailors, and spending all his free days camping in the woods with his personal trainer Marco. At the end of the day, these men often act out of selfish impulses, which is why they fail to treat women with respect or commitment. Personally, the only thing I hate more than chauvinism is ironing my own shirts - and I’ve always maintained that bigotry is unacceptable, ever since my dad was fired for making derogatory remarks about Andy Gray.


My flatmate keeps changing my facebook status. He always leaves his laptop on during the day – what’s the best way of getting him back?


Download 40GB of child pornography and call the police. Quite a delayed payoff but definitely worth seeing, he might get preyed on a bit in jail, but odds are he’ll survive the 10-15 years and soon see the funny side.


My ex-girlfriend’s told me that she’s moving in with her new boyfriend. She’s clearly happy, but I still have strong feelings for her - how should I react?


In situations like this, the mature thing to do is respect her choice and try to move on with your life, but I can’t pretend this is easy. Much easier is the immature thing - clinging onto her leg and weeping incessently, whilst attempting to sabotage her boyfriend’s position by forging him test results from the GUM clinic, and addressing copies of Wife-Beating Bimonthly to their house under his name. It’s a lot less stressful, and while no-one really comes out a winner, it is undeniably satisfying.


Whenever I go to club toilets, I’m constantly barraged by men who shout “no spray no lay” at me and charge me for soap. Is there any way I can get them to leave me alone?


Follow them home and perch in their fridge for several days, then force them to pay £1 every time they want to use some milk and ask them repeatedly if they’re ‘having a good time’. They’ll quickly come to realise why this is quite annoying. Failing that, you might like to try intruding into inappropriate moments from their private life whilst shouting out snappy catchphrases, like “family funeral, no fun at all,” or “fffrreshen up fffrreshen up, it’s the fifth anniversary of your divorce”. They’ll soon come to appreciate that this isn’t a service people want to pay for, even if they do get a lolly.


I read an article in the news about new methods of identity fraud. Should I be concerned?


It’s a sad truth that as technology becomes more advanced, so do methods of theft. Most muggers these days now operate via chip & pin, and my girlfriend had her identity stolen online: it was later stolen offline too, and for several weeks I had to put up with a strange Nigerian man wearing her clothes, snuggling me in bed, and constantly berating me for not texting him enough. It’s important to be careful, as more and more internet scams are starting to target gullible people - I’m yet to see any enhancement in my penis, while my uncle lost thousands after signing away his details to someone claiming to be Nationwide, then discovering it was actually the Central Bank of Ireland.


It’s quite cold where I live, and this “global warming” idea sounds like a great solution. How can I increase my carbon footprint?


It’s the small changes that really make a big difference. Try leaving all your appliances on standby, or reducing your need for light-bulbs by setting fire to large piles of plastic around the house. Make good use of public transport, like driving your own bus - and Virgin Atlantic have recently introduced a “carbon unfriendly” option onto their website, where the plane makes 8 trips back and forth between airports before crash-landing into a wind turbine.


My girlfriend from home just told me that she’s pregnant. Should I drop out of university to be a father?


I’d play it by ear. Having a child can sound terrifying, but if Tamagotchis have taught us anything, it’s that babies require little in the way of attention or support, and can live for weeks in their own filth as long as you remember to praise them regularly. In fact, for people in Merthyr, giving birth is just looked upon as a humorous anecdote, and often means little more than rescheduling your Key Stage 3’s. I’d carry on with life as normal, and maybe remember to give it a name before it starts primary school.


I’ve just graduated with a 2-1 degree in media studies. Have I wasted three years of my life?


Not necessarily, you can make a nice paper hat out of that for parties. My friend uses his to scrape vegetable cuttings into the bin, and I know someone who got £12 for his on eBay, so no, not a waste.


My brother royally embarrassed me on April Fool’s Day. I’m desperate to top his efforts next year, do you have any tips?


You might like to try replacing his insulin with tap water, or sending his descrpiton into a Crimewatch appeal about paedophiles. But whatever you do, please make sure that you don’t take things too far, as these kind of pranks can easily get out of hand; slipping plastic lemons into my uncle’s fruitbowl lead to his tragic death in a noose-wanking accident, while my friend Toby was heartbroken to discover that his parents weren’t actually his real parents at all, and had only pretended to be as a joke - an 18-year payoff which might have been funny had he not needed a kidney.


I went and got a tattoo while drunk but didn’t tell my boyfriend about it. Was it wrong not to let him know?


I wouldn’t worry. Everyone has little secrets, and that's usually ok as long as they don't involve the seizure of your computer. Indeed, even my mother confesses that there are some things she’s kept from me in the past; I’m not quite sure what she means by this, but it might have something to do with why the milkman keeps kissing me on the forehead and telling me that he’s proud of me. Either that or why Dad doesn’t live with us.

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