It’s 4pm in Mooch and I finally admit to myself that I have been stood up. I finish my drink and exit out the back. The last 2 hours had been spent waiting for my interviewee to turn up. He was clearly not going to. I could, of course, completely understand that someone as busy and well known as he would think me unworthy of his time. This was a man so popular around campus that he was referred to as simply: Mr. BNOC.
I receive a text later that evening from him apologising for his absence due to commitments with promoting. We agree to meet again next week, but this time in the Hallward Café. I turn up at the agreed time and to my surprise I see Mr. BNOC slouching in a chair waiting for me – resplendent in an A&F hoodie, NUFC football tracksuit (initials embroidered on the front simply reading ‘BNOC’) and Havaiana flip-flops.
Mr. BNOC: I thought I’d bring you to the place where I spend the most time. I’m here around 5 hours a day.
Me: Oh, I didn’t realise you cared so much about your degree.
BNOC: Nah, I spend most of my time here in the cafe to be honest. I mean, I do have a computer on the 3rd floor because a lot of people work upstairs, so I like to show my face up there every now and then.
Me: Makes sense. So you would say that you have made a lot of friends through being here in Hallward?
BNOC: Yes. Proper Facebook friends.
Me: And what is your Facebook Friend Count?
BNOC: (pauses to consider) Around 4,179 I think? A lot of my mates deleted me when I got to the 990s. Some people are just jealous I suppose.
We briefly pause as Mr. BNOC gets a message on his BlackBerry. He tells me it’s just to do with promoting for Market Bar. We wait as he changes his Facebook status to let people know he can get them on the guest list.
Me: So what’s your favourite night out in Nottingham?
BNOC: Oh definitely Cr-Isis! I love being with the rest of the footie lads and getting into the VIP area. I literally can’t remember the last time I had to queue! Literally!
Me: Queuing is for normal people. Where can we expect to find you inside? On the dancefloor?
BNOC: God no, I’ll get all horrible and sweaty for pictures!
Me: Good thinking. Apart from having to look well-groomed at all times, what’s the hardest thing about being a Big Name On Campus?
BNOC: Oh definitely lectures, I’m always late for them. I have to leave my house to walk to campus at least an hour before it begins. It’s very tiring…
Me: And why is that?
BNOC: Because I bump into so many people I know on the way in – and of course it’s important to stop and have a chat with each of them so they all remember me.
Me: Must be a pain being constantly late then…
BNOC: (slyly smiles) Well, not really. The good thing about lateness is that it allows you to walk in at the front of the class when the lecture has started and 300 people are already in their seats – doing that every week ensures the people get a regular good look at my face.
Once again Mr. BNOC’s BB goes off and he sighs, “I’m afraid it’s my high-profile girlfriend. She wants me to come and pick her up from cheerleading practice. We’ll have to cut this meeting short.”
Before he leaves, Mr. BNOC is sure to take down my full name to add on Facebook and my BB pin. He departs. Sure enough, I reach home and there is a Facebook Friend Request in the corner of my screen. I sit and think for a moment about how difficult Mr. BNOC’s life must be; always at the centre of attention, always the heartbeat of this campus. I wonder at the immense struggle lying ahead of him. Not a broken BlackBerry, but graduation, and heading off into the real world.