All 12 entries tagged Course Related Gubbins

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May 14, 2006


Which is what I'm listening to, and also what I'm reading. I'm sure it must actually be a book about something very clever relating to King Lear, but there's something wrong with my eyes that is turning all the words into bleughbleughbleughybleughsquiggle. This is not really a good sign, and I don't think will be appreciated in an exam situation either.

The next door neighbours have also been playing trance music very loudly for about forty–eight hours, which is doing something very odd to my head. Even when I leave the house, there's part of me that can still hear duhduhduhduh following me round the streets of Leamington. It's got to the point where I'm wondering if they actually stopped long ago and it's simply that the sound is still echoing round my worryingly empty skull.

I'm also starting to have conversations with my housemates that only exist in my head. Yesterday, whilst I was filling the kettle, I was sure I'd called through to the other housemate present, asked him if he wanted tea, and then told him I'd added an extra cup just for him. Only I didn't actually ever let the words cross my lips. However, he did want tea, which says something for my psychic powers (though admittedly not a lot, as nobody ever declines tea in our house).

I'm not sure what to expect of the next stage of revision madness. Talking to the Complete Works? Hearing the wasps buzzing in iambic pentameter? Hallucinating the fine figure of Shakespeare whole and real in my bedroom?

If he's lucky, and sticks around long enough, he'll probably even get a cup of tea.


April 22, 2006

Lizzie and Layla's Knot Normal Day Out

Today marked Shakespeare's birthday weeked and also the beginning of the RSC's Complete Works Festival. And being so dedicated to their subject (ahem), what could two Lit students do but stop working and hightail it straight to Stratford?

The day was completely unplanned. So unplanned that they looked at the grey sky that morning and almost didn't go. However, when Lizzie worked out there was a Stratford bus in ten minutes, the two of them gained enough momentum to propel themselves out to the bus stop, in the company of two crazy men and their dog.

12.14pm: Bus pulls up.

12.15pm: Lizzie and Layla get on bus. Layla asks if bus goes to Stratford. Bus driver ascertains that yes, bus does go to Stratford. Lizzie and Layla find seat.

12.16pm: Two crazy men unleash dog on bus whilst they argue with the driver about how many dogs are actually on said bus.

12.17pm: Said dog scampers wildly about whilst old people mutter. Crazy Man no. 1 tries to pay whilst Crazy Man no.2 complicates issue by ranting on about how he has six dogs.

12.18pm: Compromise reached. Crazy men and dog and tickets are stowed away at the back of bus and bus pulls away.

12.27pm: Bus drives through housing estate where all the street names are Shakespearean. Othello Way, Petruchio Place, and Banquo Approach etc. Obviously good way for Layla and Lizzie to refresh their Shakespeare knowledge. Crazy men refresh their knowledge of swear words whilst cursing at the driver for going over speed bumps.

12.34pm: Countryside. Layla and Lizzie have no idea where they are and have lost all sense of direction.

12.35pm: Countryside. It transpires that bus driver has no idea where he is and has lost all sense of direction.

12.36pm: Bus passengers try to help driver. Elderly woman pipes up with the wrong directions and needs to be corrected loudly by elderly man. Middle-aged woman knows where they should be going but nobody is listening to her. Crazy men complicate situation by yelling abuse at the driver.

12.38pm: Bus en route again. Lizzie and Layla wonder if bus actually Stratford-bound as obviously driver, in light of recent events, is not exactly reliable in matters of local geography.

12.46pm: Crazy men and dog get off. Crazy 30ish woman with tamagotchi gets on with small child. Gets more excited about activities of her tamagotchi than the activities of her small child in a very loud voice, and describes an old man on the bus as 'arrrrty-farrrrrty.'

1.10pm: Bus reaches Stratford, much to Lizzie and Layla's relief. They get off, and the adventure can safely say it has been begun.

After fish and chips by the river, and a rather strange encounter in the RSC gardens with groups of people dressed for a garden party in big pastel hats, they discover the Stratford Brass Rubbing Centre. Due to their meagre student funds it is regretfully decided that they cannot stump up the £1.95 to partake of the brass-rubbing fun currently ensuing there. Their two more hard-working housemates will not be getting the gift of a brass rubbing that evening. Maybe next year, when they're earning, they can aspire towards brass-rubbings to bestow upon their friends, but for now it is but a dream.

To get over the disappointment, they wend their way to The Dirty Duck, where an accordion player and his troop have obviously decided to spend the afternoon on the pub balcony in the sunshine, playing away to themselves. Lizzie and Layla decide to have half a pint and listen to them.

This is pleasant enough, until Layla hears an impending jingle, and a troop of Morris men walk down the street. Lured by the English folk music, they fail to go away, and instead stand looking up at the accordionist with adoring eyes. One dancer is moved enough to perform an impromptu dance with his bells and white hankerchieves in the middle of the road. Lorry driver slows and drives round him without so much as a flicker of an eye. Obviously mid-dance Morris men are common hazards in Stratford. Layla and Lizzie get another drink.

After the Morris men have jingled on, a couple of men in Shakespearean costume waver up. Cannot decide if they are very drunk or just 'acting.' They come on to the pub balcony and do a little sketch between Shakespeare and his barber, attracting a crowd of large American tourists and one woman who doesn't understand and tries to sit down on the stool they have purloined for their set. Layla and Lizzie are ringside for the performance and make sure they don't catch the barber's eye. Layla is asked if she wants her hair cut. Afterwards she wishes she'd said yes because that would really have messed their sketch up, but alas, the moment is passed. Layla and Lizzie get another drink.

After that, it is time for the pilgrimage to the RSC tat shop, to marvel at such wonders as the 'half-timbered rubik cube' and 'traditional' Shakespeare jewellery, get excited about all the productions, encounter the Morris men again in full flow, and to buy a 99.

Whilst eating, they spy a narrowboat called Knot Normal, which they agree perfectly sums up their day, and is an appropriate point at which to end it. They make it home in time for tea and Doctor Who.

And Doctor Who strikes them as surprisingly normal after the truly bizarre day that can best be described like this:

January 14, 2006

Sleeping is giving in, no matter what the time is.

Wise words from The Arcade Fire – unwitting prophets of the Essay Doom that hath befallen me.

I now have four thousand and one words, which means nine hundred and ninety nine words to go. (It's nice to know I still have elementary maths skills, if nothing else.) I will not give in, even though my bed looks tempting and cosy and is all snuggled up against the radiator waiting for me. It's wearing its special purple blanket and everything, and is just flaunting its cosiness a little too much, if you ask me. There's just no need to ever be quite so brazen with cushions. Not that I'll tell it that. After all, it wants the attention.

No, I will turn from it until I have written those nine hundred and ninety nine words. Nine hundred and ninety nine words that will be fantastic, and marvellous, and profound. Or alternatively, they'll just make sense in the cold light of Sunday, which would be nice.

If anyone wants to write nine hundred and ninety nine words on Jane Austen, Charlotte Smith, eighteenth century feminism and inheritance as a moral reward in return for homebaked goods, a large gin and tonic or my undying love and devotion you know how to find me. Just follow the scent of strong black coffee through the streets of Leamington until you pitch up on my doorstep. You can't miss it.

December 17, 2005

The Austen Letters

My dear Miss Austen,

Please allow me to reiterate how charmed I was to make your delightful acquaintance these seven years past, when we two were introduced by my illustrious mother. Furthermore, allow me to take the liberty of supposing our relationship thus far to have been an enriching and enchanting one. Moreover, knowing you so has instilled great Wit and Wisdom in my life, and for that, I shall always be indebted to you.

However, my dear Jane (and might I not call you that, after all we two have shared?), recently our friendship has significantly altered, and I fear, alas, not for the better. You have become, oh dare I say this, an intrusive presence in my life. It seems as though you must always be upon my mind, and your ideas must fret me, and make my repose uneasy. I am compelled to question your Intent and your Emotions at every turn, and what is more, must even use Freud upon you, for which, dear Jane, you must forgive me.

Please believe, dear heart, that this is due to circumstances beyond my control. I have five thousand words weighing heavy upon me, and must needs find the Material with which to furnish them. I mean not that our beautiful relationship shoud be so marred by analysis and I can only pray that one day you might come to accept and forgive the actions of an increasingly desperate woman. Remember always that I love and respect you, and will do anything within my power to defend you from militant feminists and Freudian analysists, but I am only a weak and feeble undergraduate, and my much is little. Please be assured of my love for you, if nothing else, and let that stand as a Testament in the face of all that may come to pass before the Deadline is upon me.

Will you accord me the honour of a reply? You need not send me Token or Felicitations. All I ask is that you take up pen to communicate that you understand my actions, and can forgive me in time, and that after I have graduated, our relationship can resume the tranquillity and grace of those early years.

Always your loyal and devoted friend,
I remain your


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 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.'

October 09, 2005

Alas, poor Mel

Mel Gibson, I salute you. Not many Hollywood heavyweights would have the courage to struggle through the entirety of Hamlet despite not appearing to understand a lot of the words. I also admire your fortitude in keeping up your textbook 'madman's stare,' with flickering pupils to communicate the depth of your madness, and the torment, oh! the torment, of your inner soul. Is it any wonder that Zeffirelli decided you were the man for the job after seeing your deep and resonant performance in Lethal Weapon? (Sadly, I didn't make that up – see the IMDB).

Oh Mel, you are a braver man than I (not least because you are actually male), to star in one of the most ridiculous adaptations of Hamlet I've seen. There must be something badly wrong when four Lit students can't keep from laughing about once every ten minutes in the middle of a tragedy.

The gist of it was basically this. Ooh pretty castle, ooh mist, ooh Mel rolling his eyes, ooh castle, mist, fade out, eye rolling, ghost! ghost!, fadeout, rolling, soliliquy, mist, fade out, castle Mel castle castle Mel, ghost!, pointy swords, pretty castle, mist mist mist and Mel, and Mel and Mel and fade. It was …deep.

Seriously though, has there ever been a time when Hollywood has 'done' Shakespeare and the results have been less than painful? (I can't count Romeo + Juliet because Luhrman is Australian and this colours his work.) I just hate it when they get blockbuster actors to fill roles (and cinemas) who don't appear to have any idea of what they're saying. They drone in a monotone, and seem to ignore all of the cadences and rhythm of the language. Yes, you may look pretty in body armour toting a gun, but that doesn't help you much with a two page soliliquy in Elizabethan English about the frailty of existence.

Give me four hours of Kenneth Branagh any day. Even if it is four hours. I felt like half my life had vanished by the time Mel had finally eye-rolled and muttered his way to the credits. However, I'm sure if I fancied Mel Gibson, I would feel differently, and that's probably why it did well at the cinema. He does do a rather nice line in doublets and shiny sword waving. But if I'd been Ophelia faced with a gloomy wall-eyed Mel I would have buggered off to that nunnery long ago and just got the hell out of it, frankly.

May 15, 2005

'The Bluebellyness of Bluebells'

… or indeed the 'thinginess of things.' Poosoc (poetry and society) people will know what that means. Or not. Depends how hard you were listening in an Emma Mason lecture…

Anyhow, Gibbet Hil bluebells today, at about 3pm. They're on the turn now, so get down there to see them while you still can.

It's not bluebells, I know, but it's still purdy.

March 27, 2005

I think I may actually be losing it

So I tried. I sat down with my essay plan, and I tried. I thought, how about some stream of consciousness stuff, just to get me flowing. Just to start me writing something, anything. Who knows, with all my notes and research in front of me, it may even be good.

Ahem. Or not. All it seems to have done is prove I'm finally on my way to insanity…

How is the city (and/or the country) represented in the European novel? Is the setting crucial to events and characterisation? (5000 words)

The notion of the city in Victorian literature was an interesting and complex one. The Victorian city was bloody marvellous. It was like Ė woo Ė amazing. And this essay is going to be amazing too Ė I mean, woo. How can it not be, quite honestly, I mean, Iím planning the bloody thing and I have all these little pieces of colour coded paper so I canít go wrong. Come on, woo indeed. La la la. Like Kylie. I could even do a little dance. Watch me dance. Isnít it great? Who needs critical opinion when you can just watch me dance in a swishy swishy skirt. I can jump up and down too, and twirl. Ooh look, Iím twirling, twirly twirly twirl. Like chocolate. Sweet like chocolate. Ooh, you give me so much joy. Sweet like chocolate boooy. God, how can this only be 139 words? I feel as if I have been writing this for all eternity and then some. Maybe this is enough. Can I stop now? I need tea. Tea and biscuits and someone nice to bring them to me. That rhymed. That amuses me. Is that sad? Yes, so sad I might cry, only then my makeup would run, and now that would be a pity.

Oh dear, Lizzie. Surely you canít be this desperate to not write this essay. Hmm, it would appear that I am. Oh dear indeed. MaybeÖ No, I donít know. Forget it. Raaaaaaaaaaaaar work! Come on! Get on with it girl! Write the damn essay! Maybe I should start again. Probably a good idea. Considering. I donít think old Pablo will appreciate this, seeing as he has no sense of humour apparent. Like the heir apparent, but less crowns and stuff. And no waving. Definitely no waving.

Iíve always thought the royal wave was a bit silly. I mean, if youíre going to wave at least look a bit enthusiastic about it. Iíd rather not be waved at if all the person was going to do was limply circle their hand from behind plate glass. Bit crap, to be honest. Bit of a disappointment. Luckily, Iím cynical anyway, so these sorts of things donít get to me. Does this bit count as social-historical content, do you think? Because itís that or literary theory, and to be honest with you literary theoryís a bit pants and I really canít be bothered with it. Leave it to Bennett and Royle. Olí Tin Foil, as theyíre affectionately known. Affectionately being a relative term, you understand. Having said that, they were quite useful last week. I said to them, youíve got to earn your keep around here. I said, this isnít good enough. Said I, this canít go on. Youíre malingering, thatís what. Hanging around on my bookshelf for a year and a half, giving cryptic hints and smiling smugly in your glossy cover. It canít, I told them. Show me what youíve got.

And then they took me by the hand, and led me through their essentialist mirror that represents the self and the world and I and place and the female form and nature and God and the whole of existence (possibly), and showed me all of this and this again, and did not offer me any conclusion but left me there to ramble unaided, and then I sat down and wrote my essay, and gave them a mention on the front page. Absent friends, I think is how I phrased it, because although the book was there they had floated off. I think they might have said their work was done. Watching the movie, the worldís gonna end, and there ainít no place for a boy and his friend-

-To go. Theyíre gone now. Itís just me and the yellow wallpaper. (I chose it though, so I canít use it as a tool of oppression.) I like yellow. Itís sunny and happy, even when the sun isnít shining. Like now. Efilís God is dogís life backward. I never realised that. I just thought the Eels had got all religious cult-esque on me. Itís a bit of a relief. Also a good song. Efil. Ethel addressed by a five year old. ĎAuntie Ehhhfil?í Piss off you little bugger. Auntieís a mad bitter old woman with far too many cats. Hates children. If witches existed, sheíd be one. 741 words. Wow. Funny what happens in the name of procrastination.

March 03, 2005

Why was nobody in the 19th century happy? (apart from Jane Austen)

Or How EuroNovel is the Most Depressing Course You Can Do

Right. So as not to spoil the ending of these books for anyone keen enough to actually want to read them or take the course next year (think hard about that), but yet still prove my point, here, in no particular order, are some of the joyous endings to some happy shiny euronovels you too can enjoy:

Dies horribly of a fever.
Jumps under a train.
Lives, but only after pretty much everyone else has died and his dreams have been shattered.
Marries Mr Knightly and lives happily ever after in a blessed union of love and friendship.
Takes an overdose.
Lives and eventually marries, but only after they're both old and there's been a lot of rather dull stuff about property law.
Goes to prison for many years.
Just dies, in a somewhat indecipherable fashion.
Lives a short and chaste life of penury (then dies).
Lives, but only after his lover has died in his arms, he's split another man's skull open, someone else has been strangled and there's been an unpleasant incident involving castration. I wouldn't be surprised if he did die soon after that, as he's got next to nothing left (literally).

No prizes for guessing which one Jane Austen wrote.

What's wrong with Euro-novelists? Was there not a single person, apart from dear Jane, who led a contented and fairly happy life?

Or maybe it says more about the tutors who picked the texts for this course. Hmm… I think I ought to make this entry student-viewable only, just in case I have accidentally alluded to the fact that some of the English staff might be somewhat depraved…

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