Fresh Meat: Robert Webb – “I was probably a bit ghastly as a fresher”

"At Cambridge I oozed with the studied vulnerability of a young man who thinks he is about due a massive amount of (safe!) sex. I'm delighted to say that it worked"

What do you remember about your freshers’ week?
I went to one of the newer Cambridge colleges (Robinson), which had a more casual, less stuffy reputation than, say, Trinity and as a state school boy I thought there wouldn’t be anything too posh or scary to cope with. I slightly panicked, then, when straight after the matriculation photograph I was offered the choice of a glass of sweet or dry sherry. I’d never had sherry before so I chose the dry one because I assumed that was more sophisticated. It was like drinking petrol.

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What kind of a fresher were you?
I’m quite proud of the way I really jumped into it but I was probably a bit ghastly. I was funny which helped; I was already 20 which helped; and my mother had recently died which I’m afraid to say also helped: I oozed with the studied vulnerability of a young man who thinks he is about due a massive amount of (safe!) sex. I’m delighted to say that it worked.

What advice would you now give your young self – that keen fresher – now?
Forget it. No matter how much eyeliner he wears, that boy you’re about to fall in love with is straight. And so, incidentally, are you. But I suppose there’s no rush.

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Any tips for this year’s freshers?
Some of the people you’re furiously bonding with right now will be complete strangers in two weeks’ time and others will take your children on holiday and attend your funeral. Erm, but try not to let it bother you.