All entries for June 2006

June 07, 2006

Music of the spheres: approximation of a playlist §18

Planets (mainly)

Planet Claire – B52s
Life on Mars – David Bowie
Life on Earth – Divine ComedyEarthy
Mercury blues – Steve Miller Band
Pluto – Bjork
Hey Jupiter – Tori Amos
Uranus Rock – Jimi Hendrix (I confess I had never heard of this and was searching for the missing planet)
Alpha Centauri – Tangerine Dream (similar confession – just checking that no–one would have been daft enough to use this as a song title – I was wrong)
Neptune City – Death in Vegas
Man on the Moon – REM
Venus – Bananarama
Saturn V – Inspiral Carpets
Moonage Daydream – David Bowie

The End of the Campus Novel?

Writing about web page

The accepted list of campus novels starts with 'The Groves of Academe' by Mary McCarthy from over 50 years ago (shamefully I've not read it yet) then Pnin by Nabokov.

This extract from Guardian article by David Lodge on the latter (link) sums up the genre nicely:

To consider the possible sources of Pnin in Nabokov's experiences at Cornell is to be reminded that the book was a very early example of the "campus novel", a subgenre which is very familiar to us now, but was only just beginning to manifest itself in the early 50s. Mary McCarthy's The Groves of Academe (1952) has some claim to be the first in the field, and Nabokov would certainly have been familiar with it, since he knew both McCarthy and her husband, Edmund Wilson, who was one of his closest literary friends at this time (they fell out later). Randall Jarrell's Pictures from an Institution (1954) which was, for those in the know, a riposte to McCarthy's book, gave a further impetus to the new genre, though Nabokov had already embarked upon the Pnin stories when it appeared.

Lodge goes on:

What the three books have in common is a pastoral campus setting, a "small world" removed from the hustle and bustle of modern urban life, in which social and political behaviour can be amusingly observed in the interaction of characters whose high intellectual pretensions are often let down by their very human frailties. The campus novel was from its beginnings, and in the hands of later exponents like Alison Lurie and Malcolm Bradbury, an essentially comic subgenre, in which serious moral issues are treated in a "light and bright and sparkling" manner (to borrow the phrase applied to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, who would certainly have a written a campus novel or two if she had lived in our era).

And looking at the more recent examples the list is really dominated by David Lodge (although Amis was first):

Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis
The History Man, Bradbury
Changing Places, Lodge
Small World, Lodge
Nice Work, Lodge
Thinks…, Lodge
Porterhouse Blue, Sharpe (but at the Carry on end of the spectrum)
The Human Stain, Roth
Disgrace, Coetzee
A Very Peculiar Practice, Andrew Davies
I am Charlotte Simmons, Tom Wolfe

I've never actually managed to get hold of the Andrew Davies one, despite the Warwick connections, but it is interesting that it is in fact only the British ones on the above list which could be described as comic – Roth and Coetzee are both deadly serious and Wolfe is just rather dull.

The Wilding line (to get to the point of things) seems to be that, basically, campuses are just not funny any more and therefore we won't get any more Lodge–ish productions.

I do hope that isn't the case. And given the number of people I've met who say they are working on the next great campus novel at the moment, I think there is much comedy still to be written about apparently joyless campus activities.

(I'd welcome ideas for chapter 7 of mine on RAE criteria bingo)

June 06, 2006

Incoming freshers: financially clueless?

Writing about web page,,1787824,00.html

This article largely speaks for itself


A survey of more than 1,970 school leavers across the UK showed that students estimate they will spend an average of 186.30 per term on alcohol. In reality, the cost is likely to be 274. They also underestimated how much they would spend on clothing and mobile phone bills.

But that isn't such a huge gap really – less than a tenner a week.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) financial realism report, published today, reveals a "startling knowledge gap among this year's sixth–formers". Students were asked to estimate what they thought they would spend at university on a range of essential and non–essential items, including rent, books, food and going out.

It is actually pretty difficult to estimate this kind of stuff though. And. given that they have done it by insitution/location, they are talking very small samples for each sub–grouping:

Students hoping to study in Manchester, Nottingham and Edinburgh are best prepared for their looming financial commitments, but students who have applied to study in Aberdeen could be facing a huge spending shock, the research found. The average Aberdeen applicant estimated they would spend about 2,519.90 each term on living and housing costs. However, the bank's data indicate those students are actually likely to spend 3,180.50 – 660.50 more than they expect.

Fortunately for the Aberdeen–bound, their parents will fill the gap:

The research also revealed that students about to start their first year expect to receive a total of 442m in financial support from their parents, which equates to an average 773 each during the 2006/07 academic year

No problem there then! But this really is pretty feeble stuff.

June 03, 2006


4 out of 5 stars


Really simple idea – love, loyalty, betrayal, a long delayed meeting. All culminates in a final meeting 41 years later for the ultimate reckoning.

A really good and suspenseful yarn, brief but utterly compelling

Deep blue nothing: approximation of a playlist §17

Deep Blue Nothing

Blue– Elastica
Abattoir blues – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Almost blue – Elvis Costello
Blue bag – Can
Out of the blue (into the fire) – The The
Powder Blue – Elbow
Blue eurasians – The Kingsbury Manx
Blue Jean – David Bowie
From black to blue – Yo La Tengo
In bluer skies – Echo and the Bunnymen
Blues from a gun– The Jesus and Mary Chain
Deep Blue Day– Brian Eno
Natural blues – Moby
Out of the blue– Ash
Blue – Derek Jarman
Out of the blue – Roxy Music
Blue cafe– The Style Council
Shade of blue– Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Blues from a gun– The Jesus and Mary Chain
Deep Blue Day– Brian Eno
Tender to the blues – James Yorkston and the Athletes
Blue Monday – New Order
Blue You– The Magnetic Fields
Blues – Manic Street Preachers
That fink, jazz–me–blues boy – Marine Girls
The dead flag blues– Godspeed You Black Emperor!
Joyful Kilmarnock blues– The Proclaimers
Union city blue – Blondie
Subterannean homesick blues– Bob Dylan
Electron blue– REM
Fergus sings the blues – Deacon Blue
Fisherman's blues – Waterboys

June 2006

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