(Source: Mike Licht)
Unsafe Space

Buried Treasure

What I would put in a university time capsule

Strange things happen in the world every day. Sometimes, really strange things happen. Over the past month, a family in Idaho woke up to find a moose had snuck into their wine cellar at night, Russia erected a statue of giant cockerel made from poo and in the most British news to have ever left the UK, an iceberg lettuce shortage has swept the nation, and broccoli is now rationed in all supermarkets.

In other strange, painfully British news, construction workers have accidentally dug up a Blue Peter time capsule…thirty-three years earlier than planned. Not only did they dig it up, they then attempted to destroy it. Thinking they’d discovered treasure (yes, really) they endeavoured to break into the capsule by going at it with anything they could find, including hammers, shovels and eventually…a forklift. Then, just when you think the story cannot possibly get any more ridiculous, they gave up and dumped the 1998 Millennium Dome time capsule in a skip.

Fortunately, despite the builders’ best efforts, the capsule survived long enough to be recovered, and will now be reburied somewhere safe, with the intention of being dug it back up as intended in 2050.

Credit where it is due, good old Rich and Katy from Blue Peter did not let us down with that capsule. It is quite literally spewing beautiful, tacky, plastic 90s goodness. It was buried back in 1998, and in case you can’t remember being two or three years old, this was the prime of the 90s. Saving Private Ryan, The Truman Show and Bugs Life were all in the cinema, Titanic was making a clean sweep at the Oscars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the best thing on television. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was the book on everybody’s bedside table and we were snuggled up in our Groovy Chick bedding with our Furby tucked under one arm and our Baby Born snuggled under the other. ‘Pretty fly for a white guy’ was the track blasting from our Sony Walkmans, Boyzone were still sexy and crimped hair, flared jeans and crop tops were what defined the decade.

The capsule was pretty reflective of a 90s childhood. A Teletubby, a Blue Peter pin, a Tamagotchi, roller blade wheels and a Roald Dahl book all made it in. There was also some symbolic pieces, a picture of a dove to represent peace in Northern Ireland, and a photograph of Princess Diana to remember her a year on from her death.

In thinking about the premature discovery of Richard and Katy’s time capsule, I began wondering what I would put in a time capsule of my own. A capsule of student culture, and student living, that could be dug up in years to come by students of a new era.

Without a doubt, first and foremost in the capsule would be an orange VK. The primary symbol of student life at Cardiff University. I can only hope that students of the future will continue to drink the golden, syrupy, sugary goodness that is the orange VK, but nothing is certain. Perhaps they will have pioneered some revolutionary technology that allows you to hold more than four VK’s in hand at any one time, or perhaps that prevents immediate spillage when they are inevitably dropped on the floor.

I’d throw in a library book, with an angry library fine sellotaped to it. Who knows? Perhaps the future of the physical library is unclear. With 95% of my required and additional reading now available online, perhaps the future sees no room for a physical room of books. Perhaps, even, student minds will have improved so far that they have created a way to complete university whilst avoiding compulsory reading all together. What a future.

I’d include a wristband ticket to Tiger Tiger, Pryzm and Popworld. There’s not a chance in hell that these new, exciting, innovative young people of the future would set foot in such venues, and therefore they will exist only as a memory. A tacky, ugly golden memory, stuck forever in a capsule.

It will include a flyer for Live Lounge, which will remain as sticky, sweaty and grubby as ever, but will somehow inevitably live on for the rest of eternity. The only thing that will change for Live Lounge between now and the future is the flyer. My imagination physically cannot comprehend a future in which Live Lounge does not serve £2 doubles and dad-bands don’t perform the exact same setlist. You just know that in 2095 students will still be fist pumping towards the stage to ‘Stacey’s Mom’, ‘Mr Brightside’ and something, or anything, by Oasis. Probably ‘Wonderwall’. Definitely ‘Wonderwall’.

Of course, there would be a copy of Gair Rhydd, and a copy of Quench and a copy of student media’s pitiful budget. Students of the future will celebrate us for our creativity and innovation during times of hardship and perhaps they’ll dedicate a future issue to us? A whole newspaper? A shrine?

I would even print out my favourite collection of articles from ‘The Tab’. At the top of the pile would be the piece from George Lawlor who spewed a colourful piece of garbage entitled “Why I don’t need consent lessons” ft. a picture of him holding up a sign saying “this is not what a rapist looks like”. For good measure I’ll include a packet of pins and some matches, you know, just in case.

I’d include a varsity ticket, a student card, a scrapbooked filled to the brim of all our favourite memes. A Talybont laundry card to remind them that we had to take out a mortgage to do our washing and a photograph of Taly-North so they can understand what genuine poverty looks like. A flyer from when Wednesday night was still called The Lash and a pub crawl t-shirt that named all our favourite stops.

There would be a photograph of Germaine Greer, a photograph of Trump, of Theresa May (pins already included), of pregnant Beyoncé sat in a flowerbed and of Shia LaBeouf when he watched all of his own movies back to back. There would be a photograph of Harambe, surrounded by the voting cards of all those thousands that actually voted for a dead gorilla in the 2016 US election.

Finally, a copy of our university fees, and more importantly, our debts. Perhaps they will shriek in horror, or perhaps they will gasp that we had it all so good.

I’d love to have my Cardiff University time capsule brought to me, in one hundred years time when I’m 121 years old and waiting around to die. I could reminisce varsity, and the lash, and pore over old copies of Gair Rhydd with my wrinkly, little old lady hands. I could be rest assured that if I haven’t died before 121, drinking a 100 year old VK and re-reading articles from The Tab would probably, finally, finish me off.

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