All entries for November 2005

November 28, 2005

Team Shakespeare

It's Term the first, Week the first, Lecture the first, and it's Shakespeare. Peter Mack bounds down the aisle of the Arts Centre and envelops Tony Howard in a manly hug. Carol Rutter winks at Paul Prescott and coaxes the lecturers all sitting in a row at the front into giving a little wave as she introduces each of them with a chummy anecdote. It's a new year, and Team Shakespeare are ready to go. You can almost hear the cheering.

I do like Shakespeare. I do. But never would I say I had been passionate about Shakespeare. Scared of Shakespeare, brought to tears by Shakespeare, and definitely scarred by the thunk of GCSE 'this is a simile' Shakespeare, yes, but not exactly passionate.

But one term of Team Shakespeare, and I've been changed. I have seen the light, and not just because Carol's favourite techie Steve finally managed to bring up the Arts Centre spotlights after a multimedia interlude. Never before have I taken a module taught by a group of people who so obviously enjoy what they teach; who are literally brimming over with enthusiasm and affection for each other – and of course, the man himself. Despite the fact that the module has been handed down from generation to generation with essay titles and exam papers set in stone by some venerated Literature God at the dawn of time (all right, the 1960s), this module grips my attention in a way that no other compulsory module has or will ever manage to do. Anyone who has been through the second year English course will know of that to which I allude. That Thursday lecture was a nice little excuse for a midday nap (and you wondered why I always took a corner seat).

But how can you remain asleep and unmoved in a lecture where Carol punches the air, or Paul talks about Hamlet 'getting jiggy with it?' or Carol wears her 'festive' jumper, or two of the tutors get to 'read out' in an excitable manner, or Carol and Tony enjoy some bavarderie on the side? You would have to have a heart of stone not to start to feel the love, as you look around the ACCR at everyone sitting there with their Complete Works which look like outsize snack packs of Sunmaid Raisins whilst one of the chosen few enthuses about plotline. No corner seats for me in this lecture. I'm doing voluntary secondary reading, and we're nowhere near deadlines yet. I even bought suggested secondary texts. I know, I know, but it's that good.

The handbook blurb about Shakespeare and Selected Dramatists of his Time really misses out the most compelling reason to do the module (not that most of us had a choice, but still). I tell thee, it's all about Team Shakespeare. May they live on in the ACCR and multiply and flourish and indulge in manly hugs, and continue to spread the iambic pentameter'd word to future generations.

November 18, 2005

What I wouldn't give for a Nose Cosy

I don't get cold easily. And even if I do, I have at my disposal an exciting range of gloves, scarves, woolly jumpers and hats in which to bedeck myself. I even have a poncho, for times when a jumper just isn't pretentious enough.

Therefore, normally, I am a happy warm bunny, even in the depths of November in our lovely airy student abode. Apart from one teeny tiny problem. There is one area of me that continues to feel the cold – my poor beleagured nose. There is no item of clothing (apart from a scary burglar balaclava) that is suitable for warming and cherishing it in the course of a normal winter day. And thus it goes unwarmed and uncherished, and gets very very cold.

Of course the truth is that I do cherish it, and would be very upset were it to shrivel and drop off from this seeming neglect. I would love to give it its very own little warming winter woolly to make it feel special. But seeing as no such garment exists, the problem seems insoluble. Unless I take to wearing a balaclava around the house, which would pose significant problems during mealtimes, mess up my hair, and probably cause my housemates to ring the police, my nose must go unloved.

So what can one do in the absence of an affordable, fashionable Nose CosyTM? One of my friends, when we were discussing this phenomenom last year, thought it was a good idea to share her cost-conscious solution: she gets her boyfriend to suck on her nose in chilly climes. Romance is alive and well, obviously. Just be glad you didn't witness the live demonstration later that evening.

Maybe I could knit my own. Start up a small business. Become one of those high-flying student entrepreneurs that turn up on the front pages of the business section looking smug in their designer jeans. Sue all the producers of the cheap tacky imitations that would appear on the market, and then retire to a mansion in the country with the profit, light my roaring log fires and crank up the central heating, and never need a Nose Cosy again.

November 16, 2005

My Evil Twin

Or possibly my good twin, depending on what you think of me and how much chocolate I've had in a particular day. Squinting at you funnily probably doesn't count as pure evilness, as I seem to do that a lot, even to those I adore. It usually means I'm away with the fairies thinking about something wonderful like my dinner, and haven't recognised you until there's no time to do anything else than grimace in a wicked stepmother kind of way. Hmm, I wonder if there's some sort of facial exercises I can do for a pleasanter disposition to the world at large? Or maybe some sort of smile/forehead brace arrangement?

Anyway… getting back to the actual title of this, if this was Ricki Lake, or Sally Jessy, or even Ms Trisha 'ooh I'm so successful and self-righteous they gave me a surname' Goddard, this title would be in bright yellow italics with some sort of exclamation running along the bottom of the screen, and I would be squirming round on one of those red conference centre chairs, crossing and recrossing my legs, with ridiculously bad hair and pancake make-up courtesy of the studio make-up team, and telling my story by nodding meekly at Sally/Trisha/Ricki whilst they went through the most salient points, and the studio audience thought of some extremely helpful advice for me. They would then announce a A SURPRISE GUEST! and I would of course be completely amazed at the arrival of my very own evil twin. Fancy that. And then it would all degenerate into a slanging match, and there would be tears, and stormings out, and then the eminent pop psychologist would swoop in to save the day, as positive proof that it was actually possible to get good hair and make up from the studio team. And there would be applause. Lots of applause.

But seeing as my hair is behaving itself tonight, I have no make up on, my chair is a rather fetching green swivel with the stuffing popping out, and there is no bossy woman shoving a mic in my face, I shall leave my title unadorned. Also, perhaps more importantly, the problem is that I don't know the identity of my evil twin so there would, alas, be no surprise guest.

All I know is she exists on campus, and on several occasions now has been mistaken for me. This is even more worrying in that today my housemate, who has seen me from all profiles in all weathers (including the almost unrecognisable early morning hair-stuck-to-face look), believed my mysterious doppelganger to be me, in the broad neon of the library.

Apparently, she even dresses like me. Which may even be an insult in itself. I'm not sure about that one yet. Anyway, she is definitely about, prowling campus, seeking to exploit my... erm... obvious... campus-based privileges, like, erm... my spot in the Arts Centre. Obviously.

So yes, if you know her, or you think you know me but you're a tad suspicious, then confront her. She needs to be told that this sort of thing is simply not on. After all, I'm an individual, don'tcha know?

(I know I've pretty much proved that this isn't a crappy talk show, but could I have some applause anyway? Just a teeny tiny whoop? It is Christmas soon, after all…)

November 11, 2005

A smidgen of an entry

I must be the only person whose housemates actually dance to the QI theme tune.

It all becomes clear. This is why I live with them.

November 08, 2005

The Talented Mr Rippy

Um, I think my essay has stolen my life.

And what is more, is living it up in Bermuda with sun and cocktails and things, whilst I'm still sat here, not knowing where my day went.

I mean, it's really not on. I gave that essay everything. I'm the sole reason he got as far as he did. He wouldn't be half the man he is today if I hadn't been there to coax him into finding a reason to live. And how does he repay me?

I'll tell you how. By pissing off to a sunnier climate and using the hours of my day in which to do it. It's the only explanation for why it's now midnight and I still don't have a written essay. The day didn't happen to me, it happened to the glorious and beyootiful creation that is my essay who is, even now as I speak, lying on a beach with a glass containing far too many different coloured alcohols and fruits, and probably an attractive novel or two hanging adoringly off each of his paragraphs.

He has stolen my life, and given me no reward but his empty page, flashing open in Microsoft Word to taunt me with his absence. His title is there, but he himself is not. No normal essay would do this. Mind you, geniuses are always troubled creatures, so maybe it's a good sign and he's an exceptionally intelligent being.

I know he's out there somewhere. One day, I will find him, and will be able to rehabilitate him by handing him in to be savagely marked and maybe even… filed.

I just hope he's not with Gwyneth Paltrow. Now that really would mean he was a lost cause. I'll know to give up all hope if he breezes in with a panama hat and asks me to call him 'Dickieeeee.'

November 04, 2005

Much Ado About Sam West

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Faithful readers may recall, somewhere back in the mists of time, I confessed my first love to the world. And upon reading that this man had, somehow, in fifteen years, managed to reach even greater heights than the prow of the Dawn Treader, and could be seen in Sheffield in one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, there was nothing else to do but to rush off to Sheffield with precipate haste (well, waiting until Reading Week, and until I'd checked with my lovely friend in Sheffield that it was all right to descend upon her sofa for the night) to see him in the flesh. It was also semi-course-related and therefore a completely justifiable use of my student loan, naturally. I may even use it in an essay, just to prove a point.

And all went to plan. The play was pretty good, he was even better, and I had a fantastic night out with someone I hadn't seen for a while. So why oh dear, you may ask?

Well, the problem is this: Sam West is still attractive, and he really shouldn't be. I was thinking that I would have my expectations dashed by the fact he isn't quite as youthful as he was when he was wearing his plastic gold helmet, feel a little disappointed, and then console myself by returning to my Narnia tapes and thinking of better days. However, this didn't happen. Fifteen years have passed; I am twenty not five; he must be approaching forty; and he's still a very fine figure of a man, in my eyes. (At least he was once he took off the fake moustache he was wearing for much of the first act, which was not a good look.) And I suppose it didn't help that I've been in love with Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing since reading the play at age thirteen – a double whammy of impressionableness. It was then I started thinking, and realised that most actors I fancy are at least mid-thirties. He that is less than a man is not for me, apparently.

It seems I must accept the inevitable. I appear to have something of An Older Man Thing. What is even more worrying is that older men appear to have a little bit of a me thing, from time to time. This has led me into some rather interesting situations, including accidentally almost aiding and abetting a midlfe crisis on a train. Oh dear indeed. How will this fadge?

Hmm. Maybe it will all resolve itself quite happily, so by the time I'm thirty, I'll still be eyeing up thirty year olds and the balance will be restored. Just as long as it doesn't horrifically backfire, and I then become one of these shameless seventy-year-old women with pancake make-up who run around pinching young men's bottoms. And before you argue that such people don't exist, I will cite my wonderful train experience again and simply say I could tell you a tale of a journey with a Mrs Robinson From Hell.

In the meantime, the only conclusion I can draw is I still wouldn't say no to Samuel West. Come and kiss me sweet-and-twenty, indeed.

(Oh yes, and the Sheffield Crucible is bizarrely reminiscent of the Warwick Arts Centre. Make of that what you will.)

November 2005

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