Salutations, fellow travellers! Bad news for regular followers of Grumpy Bastard’s column: they’ve had to take the week off to recover from a ruptured spleen, suffered supposedly due to the cumulative traumas of Freshers’ Week, the uncommonly pleasant weather, and the first advent calendars going on sale. That’s how they were found, so I hear – slumped over the desk, having just penned the final word of their latest column, with their usual “creative associates” (John Smith and Jack Daniels) arranged around them solemnly like some bizarre Neolithic monument to Middle England. But fear not, for I have been tasked with providing the allotted 600 words of bile this week; yes, the powers that be in Felix, in their infinite cowardice, have decided that “balance” is needed in the form of a Grumpy Gramsci to replace Grumpy Bastard [Ed.: I didn’t get the Gramsci bit either].
Of course, avid readers of Felix will be aware that Grumpy Bastard is the balance, a lone voice of “sanity” (loosely defined) in a rag otherwise corrupted by us, the Hard Left. Like all good hacks, I know which way the wind is blowing, and I know who’s signing my paychecks. These days, everyone in Felix is an Edgy Marxist, and I’m certainly not one to miss a good bandwagon – I’ll tote my tote and spoil my vote with the best of them.
The mistake that ol’ GB makes, though, is in thinking that this state of affairs extends beyond the confines of the Felix office. In a shocking revelation, I can reveal that Imperial College is hardly a hotbed of radicalism, despite what previous columns would have you think. In truth, the Felix office is an oasis of Ideological CorrectnessTM in an otherwise apathetic desert. The response that typically greets those leftists among us when we mention politics is really much the same as the one received by righties: stony-faced silence. You would expect that this would be familiar even to loyal readers of Felix, many of whom will have had to endure mind-numbing political conversations with the American stoner guy or that smug ginger prick at Meet the Writers events.
I’ll concede that what few leftists there are tend to be a bit more visible on campus these days. You can sometimes find all five of us outside the main entrance or the library, clutching our chosen instruments of hate – the megaphone, the leaflet, even (dare I say it?) the box of chalk. Truly these are the end times, when a student can’t even venture from the library to the JCR for fear of being engaged in dreaded human interaction. It’s this flouting of convention – and there can be none more grave than daring to talk to someone on London’s streets – that makes us leftists so goddamn dangerous. Just take a look at us, with our hair, and our piercings, and our second-hand books; we represent nothing less than the decay of our once-great nation’s moral fibre. Maybe we ought to just grow up, wear some normal glasses and buy a fucking Kindle like everyone else. Or maybe not. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I don’t miss the days of old, where women weren’t allowed in the Union Bar. Bleeding-heart liberal Stewart Lee once described political correctness as a kind of institutionalised politeness, and I think that fits – it ought to be a courtesy, a sign of our respect for others, to consider carefully the words we choose and the tone we use. After all, it’s hardly an assault on campus freedom to be upbraided for joining some all-male Bullingdon-rejects club.
It seems, then, that I’m signing off on a disappointingly earnest note. Perhaps I’ve just spent too much time down in the West Basement echo chamber, but I for one would welcome a bit more action on campus. The green shoots of progress are there; for the first time in a long time, political discourse at Imperial seems to extend beyond “uhh…maybe let machines run things?”. So raise a glass in toast, comrades, and hoist the flag on high: long live the People’s Republic of South Kensington!