Watford, north of London
Theology and Biblical Studies
When I meet Joe in Northpoint he is wearing a vintage looking red Brooklyn #92 t-shirt, a grey blazer complete with pocket-watch, brown brogues and a striped blue knit scarf. Complimented by his beard and slightly disheveled hair, he effortlessly embodies that classic ‘academic’ look. He insists his wardrobe isn’t something he has actively done, but rather something that has happened to him, via gifts – like his scarf and pocket watch- and suggestions- like his brogues. But I disagree. Vintage t-shirts and blazers don’t just magically pair themselves. He will admit that blazers are a staple item though, ‘It makes me feel ready to work. More academic.’ Before essays sometimes he’ll even suit-up to mentally prepare, ‘I brought shirts and ties to Uni, so I might as well wear them! I’m only a tiny bit pretentious.’ Such cheek!
Joe is, unusually not an Oxbridge reject. He’s actually a Durham reject. For Joe, St Andrews was nothing more than a filler on his application, and he described his first time up as a ‘terrible visit’ and ‘an arduous journey.’ Lucky thing, he visited during our beautiful cold, grey, rainy wet season (also known as every season). ‘We pulled up late at night to Leuchars and I didn’t even know what it was, I kept thinking, ‘is this even a station? Where is everyone?’ Then there was the ominous taxi rack, and then the unnerving drive through the country. I was like, ‘where is this University?’ ” He left St Andrews, feeling grateful that he would never have to return… until Durham dashed his dreams. “I had to reassess my options, and I’m not really sure how, but my opinion started to change. I thought maybe there was something special about St Andrews.” He fell under St Andrews charm the first day there was a bit of sunshine–which coincidentally happened to be his first day!
Like many people studying theology, religion is a big part of Joe’s life. He grew up in a Christian home, but didn’t really find his faith until he was almost a teenager. ‘Then I started asking questions and wondering about God, life and the universe…studying theology at uni was a great way to keep on asking those questions.’ When asked if his studies have enhanced his faith, he answers that it’s actually the other way around. ‘It’s possible to study theology, but not have it change your heart.’ His faith is what keeps him connected to his studies, though of course close study of religious texts can lead to problems. ‘I’ll be sitting in the library having an existential crisis at midnight, and you know, that’s not really what you need at that moment! It is a luxury though, isn’t it? Having the time to be able to have an existential crisis.’ Despite being a self-described grump, Joe seems readily able to have a laugh and put things into perspective. Joe is a member of the Cornerstone Church (fun facts: they meet at the bowling club – hilarious, and they have an open bar – tempting.)
Drama is another big part of Joe’s life. Growing up, he and his siblings were active in an inclusive theatre company called ‘Chickenshed.’ What makes the company special is the fact that it combines both children and adults with and without disabilities to take part in the theater and shows them they aren’t limited. ‘They’ve done something I’ve never seen before, they’ll have able bodied people doing backflips, and will also have someone in a wheelchair doing something equally fantastic and it’s so seamless. It’s a beautiful picture of what truly inclusive theatre, and life, could look like.’ Joe, who was born deaf, has nothing but positive things to say about the company. Some of the productions they’ve put on are spectacular, and you can check out this video if you’re interested in learning more.
Joe has to think when I ask him how his deafness affected him growing up. Because his hearing gradually improved with age, he never had a dramatic ‘eureka!’ moment, but he has a sense of gratitude regardless. ‘It’s still a part of my story; undoubtedly it shaped who I am. I’m not really sure, I just know that I shouldn’t squander these blessings (hearing and unaffected speech). If anything, maybe I talk too much!” And to be fair, Joe does love to talk (see our no-longer-Rapid-fire section), but that’s not always a bad thing. He’s perceptive and eloquent, with a hilariously dry humor. He’s definitely the type of person you don’t mind listening to!
At St Andrews Joe has continued drama with the Mermaids, a society he is passionate about, “I think more people need to get involved with the drama scene here. It’s amazing! It’s probably the only time in your life that people will actually just give you money for a project you want to do – assuming they think it’s good of course” In addition to being an actor and a director, he’s also the President of CMAD – the Christian Music and Drama Society. They will be performing a mock-drama of Jesus’ life in the round in Venue 1 on the 24th and 25th of February – it sounds like it’s going to be a great show, and you’ll even get to see Joe play Jesus! ‘I’m literally playing God. No pressure right?’
To all the girls looking for a Valentine, Joe is currently single! And the way he described relationships makes me think he’d be a very good Valentine. ‘I think the most important part of a relationship is a good friendship. You want that other person to be your best friend, because then they can challenge you and they won’t be afraid to say certain things.” He also loves a girl with a good sense of humor and a penchant for punning (and yes, that sentence was originally “ ‘punchant’ for punning”), “I have a huge respect for people who can pun, I just can’t do it. I also love people who laugh at my jokes, I know – it sounds sad!” I’m pretty sure I was laughing for the majority of this hour long interview, so I don’t think he’ll have any problems with that! So if you’re feeling brave this Valentines Day, Joe might just be the man you should pass a cheeky note to in the library!
Her Campus is so thankful to Joe for being our Campus Cutie and we can’t wait to see him on February 24th!
And now time for the Rapid Fire Round!
Where is your favorite place to get a drink: Aikmans, because they have really interesting beers, you can chat with the staff and they have a cake! You know, sometimes I want a pint, but I also want a cake- and they cater to that. Also, second – I’m so bad at choosing things – maybe the Whey Pat? It’s a bit sticky, and they have darts…not that I play darts. And their nachos are good, sometimes…actually, why did I say the Whey Pat? Can I change that to the St Andrews Brewing Company? Let’s do that instead. You have to take out a second mortgage to go there, but it’s worth it for a treat and their beers are really interesting!
Favorite part about St Andrews: Having the sea. It adds so much to the town: the sea air, the seagulls – it would be so different without it. I love how it’s so changing, some days it’s tranquil and other days it’s so turbulent, like it’s angry. The closest thing you get in Watford is low level flooding, and that’s just not the same.
Big night out or big night in: Big night in. Get some snacks, some cake – I really love cake – watch a film or two, or three (Joe has never done a ‘Lord of the Rings’ marathon, but it is on his list! Potential Valentines date anyone?) But I also love to get down. For that, there is only one place: The Lizard. The Lizard can be your best friend or your worst enemy. On a bad day you’re surrounded by sweaty people basically eating each other and you can’t really move…but when you’re there with a good group of people, the music is right and you’ve got enough space to slide around, it’s great!
Favorite place to eat: I’m more into the dinner party scene, but if I had to recommend a new place I’d say Jahangir, once you get past the sort of creepy mannequin in the window, it’s great. You get a lot of food for the price, and the atmosphere is really cool. It feels like a scene from Skyfall or something in there, they even have a pool! I mean, you can’t swim in it, but it’s there…
Biggest fear: We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Also, hooded axe murderers waiting for me outside my house.
Little known fact? I’ve dressed up as a woman a fair few times. Thanks to Facebook I’m not sure how ‘little known’ that now is.
- Uptown Girl by Billy Joel. A classic tune from a golden era. Groovy.
- Skip To The Good Bit by Rizzle Kicks. ‘Let’s skip to the good bit’ is a terrible mantra to live by, but this is still a tune.
- Farther Along by Josh Garrels. This man creates unique, beautiful, soulful music; here is a taster of that.
- Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. It’s a bit cliché, but so is eating breakfast. Sometimes it’s okay to be sad, when that time comes, listen to this. Not the X-Factor version!
- Life’s a Happy Song from the Muppets Movie Soundtrack. There’s a time to be cheerful too. Ideal for spontaneously dancing in the street.