All 2 entries tagged Queens

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September 21, 2008

I Wanna Sing Like Sinatra

Who thinks that the life that they have shaped, that the person and soul that they are, can be reduced to a pithy two-word slogan? Think of all the things you are, to different people: children, brothers, lovers, friends, vague inphrasesable longings. Can you reduce the essence of what you are to less than seven letters? No? Then WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT OF PERSONALISED NUMBER PLATES?

What? What do you want rest of the world? Do you think that the letters "FRM D4DDY" will get you respect from your peers? Is introducing your love of wintersports via "LV2 SKI" entirely necessary? Would an undercover agent for MI5 really introduce himself on the back of a Mercedes SLK as "1 SPY"?

This is a message to all of the license plates which irked me in England, and through the sheer barrage in Canada make me detest them on a new level. Please, everybody that thinks that this is honestly a good idea, kill yourself in the most painful way anticapable. Humans are entirely complex creatures. Imagine the ridiculous amount of despair and panic you feel when asked to present yourself to a large group of people. There are, say, a thousand people in the room, and you have only a hundred words to present yourself forever to this audience. Their entire and everlasting impression of you depends on this unimaginably infinitesimal set of phrases. Would you not scream to the depths of your soul of the impossibility of the feat? Would you not insist on introducing yourself individually to each person on the basis that they might be a worthwhile social pursuit, and a good form of human to talk to? No? Then what the fuck is the point of personalised number plates?

When you introduce yourself as "K9 SUE" or "A1 LEO" you're not at all displaying aspects of your personality. All that every potential pedestrian seeing your inevitably shit car speed past from the pavement will think is "oh, that's the type of person who's life can be summed up in two rather insipid words".

Anyway, the theme for today is insecurities. I was trying to crowbar the previous rant into this topic, but I then realised it was impossible. These are two entirely separate thoughts.

I remember having conversations with Liam (AJ) about the nature of insecurity, and about how he ostensibly didn't have any. I remember repeating often and with vigour that that was impossible -- that every human being that exists must have little niggling doubts about their own abilities. However, when pressed to define an insecurity, I couldn't really think of a way to express it. It's not necessarily a failing, or an inability, it's more deep than that. It's any aspect of you that you feel should be better, for whatever reason, and because you feel it could be better you automatically become uneasy and embarrassed about it whenever it has to be shown. It could be the shape of your ears, or your abysmal poetry, or the way you cringe whenever someone mentions your name; whatever it is we regard it as an imperfection in our own life.

A human being is, as I mentioned in my initial rant, a social construct. We have, as Dennet would have pointed out, Second order desires about the type of person we want to be. In that, we don't want expensive white wine, but we do want to be the type of person that does want expensive white wine. We'd like to be a person who can appreciate good literature, which requires an outside effort. Insecurities are thigs about us that we can't shape, no matter how we'd like to; and the lack of control over our own nature disturbs us.

I suppose my own failings are ample demonstration of this. Working at a sports equipment shop over summer I was constantly quizzed about my feelings on the latest transfer or tactic. There is almost nothing in this world I know less about than premiership football, and certainly nothing I care less about. My own personal inability to join in conversations about most popular sports is no real problem to me, I do not wish to be a person who gets excited by this. I hold no grudges against those who are excited by it, but it's not for me. I'm not that man.

Contrast this with my utter ineptitude with any form of musical instrument, and you have a much better idea of what an insecurity is. I'd love to be able to sing, or play guitar with any actual ability besides four separate power-chords. I can play drums, yes, but not at the same rhythm as any band or music. Watching me on a drum kit is like watching a visual demonstration of chaos theory. Despite all this, I utterly wish I was that guy. The man that can pick up a guitar at a party and play 'blackbird' note perfect, or sing 'La Donna e Mobile' in the shower without sounding like I'm screaming for help.

Now I'm all growed up, at least for the most part, I've become a lot more easy with these insecurities. Whilst I still intensely wish for the genie of musical talent to grant me three melody-based wishes; I can't really see it being a problem in my life if he doesn't. Where I used to see my problems as constricting, I now see them as guiding. I'm never going to be the new Bowie, but that doesn't mean I can't be anything at all.

Where has it guided me you ask? Well as I'm writing a column for the Queen's Journal over here, occasional articles for the Warwick Boar back home and updating this blog with my thoughts in-between every week or so, it becomes pretty clear how my life is shaping out. I'm going to spend a good while certainly sitting here, at my most secure, writing for an audience -- provided there's at least one person out there willing to listen.

September 07, 2008

Canada Bound

I'm in Queen's university; Canada. I've been here for just over a week, and already gleaned so much about the university and Canadians as an entity I feel as though I could write a book; however I'll pull it back to the category of irregular blog updates for the moment.

Blog writing tends to affix itself around central themes, and it appears as though I am destined to write a travel blog being so far from home. However, since I resent the idea of fate I will be endeavoring to break this pattern as often as possible. Expect long rants about the state of American Football, or Canadian beer; unpunctuated and clustered explosions on Quebecian politics and ironic but slightly longing drafts concerning cheerleaders and their ilk. Expect this blog to be weaving through the themes of Canadian university life like a drunken snake on rollerskates, whilst at the same time still remaining within my self-dictated subject.

The phrase for today is: School Spirit.

The Canadians refer to their universities as schools, which becomes initially quite puzzling. Most of the frosh (freshers) week I attended was to do with learning school chants - of which there are a seemingly infinite amount - getting to know our Gaels (fresher helpers) and watching american football. I was beginning to assume that the amount of cheers and responses we had to learn (almost always punctuated with pelvic thrusts, an oddity embraced far more by the girls on campus than the men) was some form of secondary test to check that the incoming students really were the best and the brightest, certainly the best at memorising little toccatas of language.

The community spirit is immensely different in Canada than it was in Warwick, which is not to say in any way that there was none in Warwick. If anything, I found it easier to fit in - but most of my time was dispersed to different cliques of the social scene. Thanks to the fact that my corridor was filled with some of my favourite people ever, and the corridor two stories below us was always goading us to come out; I was never without friends or a chance to go out. The clubs and societies I joined also led to a lot of time spent with parts of the university I wouldn't have otherwise met (social groups that almost universally spun around an axle of incredibly heavy drinking), and my course also provided me with an opportunity to meet some fantastic friends. The main difference here, though, is that I'm constantly in occasions where I find myself with the entire university. At talks and dances and football matches populated by thousands of students. There is much more of a coherent university spirit here, as opposed to sects of moons orbiting around bigger planets, again orbiting round a central star.

A hard question to ask myself is which one of these situations I prefer. I find myself, despite all the charms of Canada, erring towards the social circles found in Warwick. I still don't have sets of people to go out with, although I constantly have things to go out to; and I still don't know anyone with whom I could just walk into their room and talk to for hours on end. The community spirit, with all its cheers and school songs, does little to encourage the formulation of groups with similar interests; of groups of friends.

This being said, there is still plenty of time for the university to suprise me, and still plenty of fun to be had in the unified system of Queen's. We shall see whether I stick by this, my first blog post, by the time I have to leave Canada, or whether - like the engineers on campus - you're going to need teamwork, co-ordination and an awful lot of grease to get me out.

See you on the other side, guys

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