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“Nine to Five got me pumped to get going – you can’t let Dolly down

Comedian Alice Fraser (Sidney Sussex 2007) adapted to a newfound independence with opera, love songs and a turn on the banjo.

- 3 minute read
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    Le Nozze di Figaro

    With Cecilia Bartoli and Bryn Terfel

    I remember going for long walks with this on my headphones when I was feeling homesick for Australia – my mum often used to have it on in the car in Sydney when I was little, so it’s my home soundtrack. My twin brother and I had been carers for her since we were 10 or so, because she was seriously ill with MS, and being at Cambridge was my first time away from home, aged 23. It was strange, gaining independence and losing responsibility at the same time. I felt guilty about leaving but excited to be free, and I threw myself in neck-deep. It made a disproportionately impactful dent in my life, because I was growing down as well as growing up.

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    9 to 5

    Dolly Parton

    I was a member of the Hare and Hounds, and this song would get me pumped up to get going, because you can’t let Dolly down. I would go for these immensely long runs with interesting people like mathematicians and geographers. I loved that although Cambridge life corralled you into Colleges, the club cut across them. I’d train six times a week, and I still have friends from it today.

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    Kanye West

    On nights out, this song would always come on at some point – it was the law. Back in Sydney, I didn’t have much of a social life. I’d always felt I had to have worthy hobbies – like choir or study groups – if they took me away from looking after mum. And I couldn’t stay out too late because I’d have housework to do before I left home in the morning. So, being able to be completely self-indulgent and go out and have fun was special.

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    Even When I’m Sleeping

    Leonardo’s Bride

    This is the greatest love song of all time. It’s an international love story told from opposite sides of the world. One side is always asleep when the other is awake, but the song says ‘I love you even when I’m sleeping’. It comforted me and reminded me that people still loved me, even in the handover from day to night. The winter time difference is difficult, there’s only about an hour’s crossover between the UK and Australia, so I’d listen to this if I missed a Skype call with my mum or my brother.

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    The Bad Touch

    Bloodhound Gang

    I went to a friend’s flat for a cup of tea, but he thought it was a date. He made his move during this song which, if you know the words, was such a bad idea that we both ended up laughing hysterically. We were prepping for a Footlights Smoker. I’d done a bit of theatre at uni in Sydney and had been really bad at it, but here my pitches kept getting accepted. I’d sing songs on my banjo and perform with much more talented people, with no goal apart from to be funnier each time. I had generally taken myself seriously, but this chance to be silly and bring joy was revelatory.

Alice Fraser is a writer, performer, broadcaster and comedian – and an ex-corporate lawyer.

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