April 06, 2009

On blogging and the like.

To quote from my Dad’s blog:
“I have been a poor blogger recently”. Although the “recently” in that sentence is pretty redundant.
Life has continued without my little updates to the world. The trouble is that whenever I think of something interesting to write for the world to read, I’m never near a computer, and when I am sitting in front of my laptop screen I can’t think of anything even vaguely interesting to fill this little box with.

Many things have taken place since my last post. Easter is nearly upon us, and term finished weeks ago.
I have had my last ever lecture, which was a strange experience. I must now just learn all the material from a year to cram into 9 exams next term. 5 of them are in the first week of term, and I’m still not sure if that’s a curse or a blessing.

I have also done quite a bit of singing, including my first pro gig in Coventry, with the Finham Choral Society . It was the Mozart Requiem, which was quite good fun (I think it’s a great piece of music), with the added bonus that the conductor now has my contact details.

The first week of the Easter break was spent in Officer Training, which was great fun. It did mean that I spent an evening running around campus dressed in bin-liners, a big paper strawberry, and a pair of girl-boxers on the outside of my trousers, masquerading as Strawberry Man during one of the social events. Fun times.

Last week was spent equally in Cottenham and at home with my darling Charlotte. We wandered round a lot of places, had some nice walks, and generally enjoyed each others’ company.

At this precise moment I am in Cornwall with the lovely Charlotte and Mr. Jon Parker to sort out lots of things for UWCC Tour in July. I can’t go on this tour because I will be in training, but it’s going to be awesome. We’ve got lots of places to go and visit tomorrow so that everything runs smoothly in the summer.

I had a million and one other things that I thought of to write about but, naturally, they now all escape me. I might carry round a little pad to jot things down on in the future.

That’s all for now. Another update to follow…when I next update.

February 23, 2009

Exhausted and Elated

That was my answer to the question “How do you feel?”, which I was asked by two student journalists at about half 1 on Sunday morning.

This last week has been good.

Campaigning like that is the most knackering thing I have ever done. I am more tired than when I cycled to Paris last year.

However, on the coach home from the London gig (more to follow) I did get numerous texts and phone calls congratulating me on getting elected to the Sabbatical post of Societies Officer for the academic year 2009/10, which really does make it all worth it. I had taken some drinks for the coach journey home (I would either be celebrating or drowning my sorrows) and promptly cracked one open!

The coach got back to campus at about 5 past 1, and I wandered into the Grad@Cholo to see if there was anyone still there. I had a chat with the chair of elections group, and a couple of the winners, before getting collared by the aforementioned journalists. Providing answers to difficult questions at quarter to 2 in the morning (whilst slightly inebriated) isn’t easy!
Once I’d been released by them, I went to bed. I didn’t even have enough energy to drink my champagne.

That wasn’t the end of it though – during lunch the following day I got another phone call from these people to tell me I’d won by 8 votes and then ask me in the same breath how that made me feel. Journalists are peculiar people.

It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’ll be running the Union next year, but it’s definitely exciting!

Moving on from the elections for a bit, the Chamber Choir also had a highly successful concert with the newly formed Chamber Orchestra on Saturday night at LSO St. Luke’s in London. I had a great time, and it sounded brilliant. There apparently will be a recording of the gig coming out soon.

And in the less good news, I have managed to break the screen of my phone so I can take calls but making them or reading texts it completely out I’m afraid.

Sleep is good. I might have some more of it later.

February 15, 2009

On the spade and the socks

For those not on facebook, you will not know that my two most recent statuses have been:

James is desperately trying to get hold of some socks…
James now knows that you can’t peel a windscreen with a spade.

There was much comment on both of these.

I’m afraid that the windscreen one is really very boring. Another friend of mine had a comment on his status which said “and never peel a windscreen with a spade”. I quite liked it so I used it. There’s really nothing more to it.

The socks one is much more interesting. Yesterday I received a parcel containing 76 pairs of socks. They are for use in my election campaign (which I’m not really allowed to mention). I am running for Societies Officer, often abbreviated to “Socs”, hence the socks.

Back to the strange world of actual reality rather than facebook, the reader will (hopefully) be pleased to hear that I am well. Lectures are still going on, music is also still going on.

More excitingly, next week I will be campaigning like crazy in an attempt to get everyone to vote for me as next year’s Societies Officer for the Union. It’s going to be a tough race, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Friday was the Music Centre Ball, which was brilliant. Photos are going up on the aforementioned Facebook for those who are lucky enough to be classed as my friends. I had an absolute whale of a time.

New Day Octet also had a gig last Friday (as in 9 days ago) in University House, which was very well received. It was really enjoyable!

And yesterday was another Hymnos gig in Lapworth church. It went absolutely brilliantly and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There was a curry afterwards which I did not attend, needing to get up this morning to do lots of useful things, but I’m sure everyone else had a great time.

That’s it for now, campaign prep to be done!

February 04, 2009

This is starting to get silly

OK, I think I’ve worked out the system now.

I post a blog, wait a few weeks ‘til some comments appear, post again saying how rubbish I’ve been and promising to be better, post once more if you’re lucky, and repeat.

Let’s actually try to improve on this.

Term 2 warmed up very briefly but since then it’s snowed. It’s slightly depressing how much the snow just completely shut down the country. On Monday, not a single bus ran in London. not a single bus!

Besides lectures, the major event of this term is going to be elections for the Union Sabbs (Sabbatical Officers) for the 2009/10 academic year.
I’ve almost finished my manifesto for the Societies Officer, which looks pretty good, but to be honest the elections can be a bit of a lottery so fingers crossed!

I’ve also been playing quite a bit of bridge this term. Yesterday was our second round Portland Bowl match, which we won, so we’re now through to the quarter finals. One more match and we get to go to the finals weekend in London, which would be exciting.

Plenty of singing is going on – Chamber Choir has done a couple of gigs for One World Week and there was an Armonico Consort concert last Saturday which I really enjoyed. The main UWCC concert this term is in LSO St. Luke’s in London where we’re doing Bach’s Magnificat and Dove’s Koethenermesse, with the newly-founded University Chamber Orchestra (which is AWESOME!) I’m the tenor soloist in the Dove, so if you happen to be in London on 21st Feb come and watch it!

Next update in four weeks :P
(Well, hopefully less than that)

January 07, 2009

Term Begins

And so Year 3 Term 2 has got underway. And it’s bloody cold.

We’re all settling back into the routine of lectures, which at the moment are all in the introductory phase so they’re not too difficult! Although Complex Analysis went at a frightening speed, and the lecturer talks very quietly and mumbles a lot so I’ll be sitting near the front for that.

We’ve played our first bridge match of the term, which we (unfortunately) lost but it wasn’t a bad effort and we were winning after the first half, which is something.

Life goes on elsewhere – music is starting up again with Chamber Choir’s first meeting on Thursday and Opera holding auditions for The Marriage of Figaro over the weekend. Call me a skeptic, but I’m not certain that we’ll be able to rehearse and perform that in 8 weeks: In my humble opinion it would be better cast in a couple of weeks’ time (to give people the opportunity to properly learn the audition music) and then perform it some time in term 3. I know this clashes with exam timetables but there’d be Easter to learn everything and the pace would be much easier.

The two performances we did of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (with ensemble 1685) went very well. I got quite a few comments on my solo aria which were nice to receive too.

This is my last term of lectures, however, so I need to make sure I prioritise carefully and don’t overload myself because there are these things called finals in the summer which are worth more than half of my entire degree, and it would be good to be properly prepared for them.

Outside academia, I have just found all my receipts in my bag to claim money back from opera have got wet after my water bottle froze and then thawed again. Curses.

January 03, 2009

Musings of Y2k9

And so, we start another year, and watch 2008 fade away into the distance.

But Let me take a moment to reflect on the last 12 months and what may be to come and look forward to what the next 12 might be sending my way.

Well, memories of 2008 then. Where do I start? It’s all whizzed past but I have at least managed to fill it with quite a few things. Some things I will always remember from the year:

The year started off in the second term of my second year, with, among other things, Algebra II with Dmitry. Aaah fond memories of understanding NOTHING in a lecture. Still, I’m glad we did that module, because it did help get me to learn more independently and prepare for lectures and stuff. Third year gets a lot more abstract, and this also helped with that. Although it’s still not great because I have a practical brain which likes to visualise things.

I will most definitely remember singing in Macbeth. Singing in a full Butterworth Hall as a soloist with full Sypmph Orchestra and 250 singing in the chorus was an experience I really will never forget. It was such an incredible buzz. It was also one of the experiences which made me seriously consider going for a professional singing career. Top ten nights of my life that, it was just great.

Term 3 brought exams, which was about when I realised degree level maths is really quite tricky. In all honesty, I didn’t do enough work to do myself justice, and my grades slipped a bit. This wasn’t ideal, but did make me change my work ethic for my third year, so hopefully more good things will come out of it than bad things. It also meant that I transferred to the three year course, which again I don’t see as a bad thing.

Also in term 3 was WSO’s run of HMS Pinafore. It was the first show at Warwick where I have done nothing except perform in the chorus, which made a relaxing change.

After the end of exams came my second highly eventful Arts Festival week. Thomas came to visit, and we went to see a lot of things. Both of the WSAF weeks I’ve experienced so far have been awesome and I will remember them for years to come.

Then the summer arrived. Well, the British “summer”. And with it came UWCC Tour and degrees, along with my most memorable experience of 2008.

Tour and degrees were both awesome. We went to Belgium and had great weather, sung in the Brussels Conservatoire, ate incredibly good chocolate, drank (a few too many) really good beers, and generally had a whale of a time. The beauty of tour is that it follows straight on to degrees so there were two weeks of Chamber Choir mayhem, during which you become a really close-knit group. I will always remember the treasure hunt put on by Juliet and Sarah.

Then in late July, I cycled from London to Paris. This really was an incredible, even life-changing experience. I met so many great people, and we were all taking on a huge challenge together. The sense of teamwork and friendship that came out in just three days was incredible. I can recommend it to anyone, and can honestly say that it will change you for the better.

September brought the 120th birthday party which I will also never forget. The months of careful planning, the week of general jobs and preparation before the event, and then the day itself, with loads of friends, old and new, and a whole roast pig. I think we still have some pork in the freezer!

And so on into October and my final year of university, with more maths, and two more operas, (mounds of music in general really). Dido had a very high level of production and was a joy to be involved with, if a little stressful. Plus it was my first performance in Covent Garden. The Zoo, together with Cox and Box, took itself slightly less seriously. I have never been so stressed as I was over the props and set for Zoo, but Cox and Box was the most fun I have ever had while on stage. When else does one get to lob a bread roll into the audience?

Chamber Choir reconvened with lots of new Freshers for the new year, and I had the pleasure of meeting Charlotte, who is a fantastic companion and always fun to be with. I certainly hope we will be sticking together for a long time.

Chamber Choir’s concert will also stick in my memory for a long time – Coventry Cathedral was packed and is an amazing place to perform.

We all had a good Christmas and a quiet New Year, and now I look out to 2009 – what will it bring?

2009 is my final year as a student, after 21 years of learning I will in June this year graduate from university and move on into the real world, all things being well.

Forgive the cliché, but University’s just gone so quickly. It feels like barely yesterday that I was moving into my first year room in Westwood, and I’m now worrying about things like jobs and a house and stuff. All a bit scary really.

There will be more music this term, I’m sure, and I will stand down as CC Librarian near the end of term, which will be a bit of a relief. It’s a good job, but it doesn’t half eat time.

There will also be the Sab elections, so I will be getting my act together to run a (hopefully) coherent and successful campaign to get myself elected to a Sabbatical position for the 2009/10 academic year.

But all that is to come, so let’s just get out there and see what life throws at me in the next 12 months.

December 30, 2008

Stop world, I have blogged!

OK, I concede, there is not a worse blogger in the entire country. 3 months is a pretty ridiculous blogging gap.

Since my last update I have done loads, including being involved in three shows (including performing in Covent Garden), a term’s worth of maths, and had plenty of laughs.
I am currently in London playing bridge at the year-end congress. The Swiss pairs event did not go well, but we performed slightly better in the men’s pairs yesterday. Today is teams which we are hoping will be better still.
A New-Year Resolution of mine for 2k9 will be to update this blog frequently, so start checking back again, or I will have lost all my readership for ever!

Expect another update in the New Year,

Love to all

James :)

October 04, 2008

Fire alarms and oily hands

I’ve been cooking. It’s very nice and relaxing.

Before we get on to that, a brief update on the life of the James.

Term has begun; we’ve had our first week and it has been a raging success. I like many of my modules, although I missed all of Friday’s lectures due to feeling too ill to attend them. Friday was spent in bed reading though, so it was not all bad.

Chamber Choir has lots of new members and is all very exciting. Paul let in loads of people so I now need to go and generate some more music for them all, which is a slight inconvenience. They are all great however. I even managed to get myself married (on facebook) to one of the freshers. We had a social after the first rehearsal on Thursday and all had a good laugh.

Opera Warwick (the new name for Warwick Student Opera) had their first meet yesterday, and also has lots of new members, which can’t be a bad thing. Auditions for Dido are over the next week, and we’ve now had our first Cox and Box rehearsal, at which I discovered that actually learning my music beforehand appears to have been over-preparation.

On Monday night we had the first bridge match of the season, which we (unfortunately) lost 7-5. Still, it could have been worse and it’s early days.

Today I bussed onto campus (a luxury) and the Octet had its first rehearsal of the year. It sounded great (considering three of us were in nowhere near good voice), and we’ve got some really good music to do. We’re hoping to spend a weekend doing some recording next term.

On returning home, I did some work, sorted out some of my music (still a lot to go though!) and cleaned the bathroom. When it came to supper time, I had some wraps that I needed to use the rest of, so I dug around in the freezer for a bit and found some pork chops. I still vaguely remember buying them (because they were on offer) in term 1 of my first year. So I chopped one of them up and stir fried it with veg and soy sauce and ginger and it was mighty fine.

Wondering what to do with the others, I decided to have a go at making a marinade. So I’ve now got two pots in the fridge, one with a curry-style concoction in it and the other with a weird mix of things inspired by Chinese cuisine. Both look and smell very tasty, and both were satisfyingly squidgy to mix with my hand. Although I had no idea what I was doing, so heaven knows if they’re going to taste OK.

It was, however, great fun to be creative.

Tomorrow holds the delights of a bridge exec meeting, along with the first meeting of the club. Should be a laugh. Then it’s home for pork curry or chinese-style somethng or other…

September 25, 2008


Wow I really do feel popular! Many requests to keep posting. I guess I should write an update then :P

I’m in the Maths computer room at the moment, deciding on modules for next year. It’s not going very well so far. They give us far too many to choose from (as in, about a hundred), and I’m not the most decisive person at the best of times.

I have now moved back in to my Leamington house, as have my three housemates. It’s the same house and people as last year, which is nice. Plus, it means that I can’t be too bad to live with (always a bonus), seeing as they’re all prepared to put up with another year of me. I even managed to tidy everything away, catalogue my music and go to Asda before I took the car home. So I now have 16 litres of fruit juice under my bed waiting to be drunk.

Since my last post we had the 120th party, which was, as far as I could tell, a huge success. Everybody I talked to had a fantastic time, there was enough food to sink an aircraft carrier, and we each had a big cake. Mine was totally wacky, which I feel suited me down to the ground. The hog roast was HUGE, and even we were forced to admit defeat by a considerable margin. I doubt it will all have been eaten by Christmas. It was nice to see lots of people :)

Being back in Leam it’s now a chance to see everyone uni who I haven’t seen since June (unless they came to the party, of course) before term starts on Monday. It’s really strange – most of the people in the years above me have now left and gone to get proper jobs and other scary things, and I’m going into my third year. It feels like only yesterday I was a fresher, all young and carefree!

Music’s already seriously underway, despite the fact that term hasn’t started yet. I’ve just spent quite a few hours sorting out all the Chamber Choir folders for next term, and I’ve been cast as Box in Cox and Box which is one of Opera Warwick’s productions for next term.

This evening I’m off to play some bridge ahead of our first league match of the season which is on Monday.

So, ahead of me lies a busy year – music, bridge, cycling (yes I’m going from Leam to campus again this year!), and to top it all off, my finals. Then who knows what I’ll get up to? I certainly don’t!

I make no promises as to when my next post will be…

September 10, 2008

OK OK I'm here!

I never knew this blog was so popular. That’s three whole readers!

I am still here, still alive, still able to type, even while stationary.

Life has been relatively quiet since returning from Portsmouth. Plans for the birthday party are in full swing. We put up the big tent thing today, and it looks like it’ll do the job nicely. I also got a parking ticket from a very mean attendant, who stood there and did all the paperwork really slowly as I waited to drive off. That was less of a success than the tent.

Last weekend was the Coventry [Bridge] Congress, and was an overall success. We (Ant & I) won the pairs on the first evening: a very pleasant surprise indeed! So now I have a trophy to my name, which is nice! The Swiss pairs was… less of a success, but we came just one Victory Point (out of 140) below average in the teams, which is definitely not bad.

That’s about it really – lots going on in preparation for Saturday, so I’ll get back to that now and blog about it later. Probably much later, but hopefully on Sunday or Monday.

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