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January 29, 2007

Public Transport

Public Transport is a little bit expensive.

Last week I went for a job interview in Hatfield, that’s just north of London. Initially I thought to get a train because I don’t have much experience driving long distances.

It would have cost me £75 to buy the train tickets at the station, plus another couple of quid to get a bus from Hatfield station to the business park.

If i’d booked tickets in advance it would have been £35. Somewhat better.

In the end I drove, I filled the tank immediately before and after the journey (i’d actually driven the 1/2 mile to and from ASDA once before refilling, so knock 50p off or something). It cost me £17.

The journey each way also took an hour and a half as opposed to 3 hours.

I would love to be environmentally friendly and use public transport, but quite frankly I can’t afford it.


January 28, 2007

Adventure Time

It’s Adventure Time!


January 12, 2007

Really Good Couriers (Part 1)

This is a work in progress, I expect masters of comedy like Dean Love to help me make it awesome.

Interior RGCHQ, Evan Bunkerweiner’s Office

Alan Twiddleclud has just begun his first day at Really Good Couriers and is really excited about learning the trade. He’s currently in a meeting with his superior Evan Bunkerweiner who is explaining what he’ll be doing today. Evan Bunkerweiner is some sort of fatherly boss figure, Alan is an eager but naive newbie and Clive talks like someone who went to Eton and Cambridge but is also an idiot.

Evan: Your first day is fairly straightforward, you’ll just be shadowing one of our seasoned drivers and learning the ropes.
Alan: Ok, but when do I get to go out on my own?
Evan: Steady son, there’s a more to being a Really Good Courier than just driving around picking up and dropping off parcels, much more! Ah, here he is, meet Clive.

Clive extends his hand to Alan

Clive: Clive Shuntrunkbag at your service.

Alan shakes Clive’s hand

Alan: Alan, Alan Twiddleclud. Nice to meet you Clive.
Clive: BRILLIANT! Let’s get this old hedgehog roasting!

Interior: Package Room

It’s the room where the drivers pick up the packages and load their vans. Clive and Alan are just loading the last few packages, there are a few other drivers in the room.

Clive: Right, we’ve picked up the goods, or “contraband”. Little joke that, keeps me sane!
Alan: Good one.
Clive: BRILLIANT! We’re going to get along like a ferret in heat!

A random staff member comes across to talk to Clive

Staff Member: Hold up Clive, we’ve got a late package for Bumcorp.
Clive: Another one for Bumcorp? CHRIST! That means we’ll have to do a CONSIGNMENT MERGE!
Random Driver: a CONSIGNMENT MERGE?! You bastard, I haven’t had one of those for weeks!
Alan: What’s a consignment merge?
Clive: Man, it’s times like this that i’m glad to be training the newbies. Ok Alan, a consignment merge happens when multiple orders from the same source are to be delivered to the same place at the same time, a little trick we do is to put them all under the same delivery. It saves us having to drive away from the recipient, turn around and then drop off the second order. Clever eh?

Alan looks confused for a moment, looks like he’s about to say something then wisely decides to keep quiet. Alan is learning.

Alan: Right.
Clive: BRILLIANT! Let’s go poach some eggs!

Clive and Alan get in their van and drive away


December 30, 2006

Film Meme–tastic

Who doesn’t enjoy a good meme? Hitler, that’s who. Now lets see how many of this random selection of films i’ve seen.

( ) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest
( ) Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
(x) Starsky and Hutch
( ) Neverending Story
( ) Blazing Saddles
(x) Airplane
Total: 6

( ) The Princess Bride
( ) AnchorMan
(x) Napoleon Dynamite
(x) Labyrinth
(x) Saw
(x) Saw II
( ) White Noise
( ) White Oleander
( ) Anger Management
(x) 50 First Dates
( ) The Princess Diaries
( ) The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Total so far: 11

(x) Scream
(x) Scream 2
(x) Scream 3
(x) Scary Movie
(x) Scary Movie 2
( ) Scary Movie 3
(x) Scary Movie 4
(x) American Pie
(x) American Pie 2
(x) American Wedding
(x) American Pie Band Camp
Total so far: 21

(x) Harry Potter 1
(x) Harry Potter 2
(x) Harry Potter 3
(x) Harry Potter 4
(x) Resident Evil 1
(x) Resident Evil 2
( ) The Wedding Singer
( ) Little Black Book
( ) The Village
( ) Lilo & Stitch
Total so far: 27

(x) Finding Nemo
( ) Finding Neverland
(x) Signs
(x) The Grinch
(x) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
( ) Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
( ) White Chicks
(x) Butterfly Effect
( ) 13 Going on 30
(x) I, Robot
() Robots
Total so far: 33

(x) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
(x) Universal Soldier
( ) Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
(x) Along Came Polly
(x) Deep Impact
( ) KingPin
(x) Never Been Kissed
(x) Meet The Parents
( ) Meet the Fockers
( ) Eight Crazy Nights
( ) Joe Dirt
( ) KING KONG
Total so far: 39

( ) A Cinderella Story
( ) The Terminal
( ) The Lizzie McGuire Movie
( ) Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
( ) Dumber & Dumberer
(x) Final Destination
(x) Final Destination 2
( ) Final Destination 3
( ) Halloween
(x) The Ring
( ) The Ring 2
( ) Surviving X-MAS
(x) Flubber
Total so far: 44

( ) Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
( ) Practical Magic
( ) Chicago
( ) Ghost Ship
(x) From Hell
( ) Hellboy
( ) Secret Window
( ) I Am Sam
(x) The Whole Nine Yards
( ) The Whole Ten Yards
Total so far: 46

(x) The Day After Tomorrow
( ) Child’s Play
( ) Seed of Chucky
( ) Bride of Chucky
(x) Ten Things I Hate About You
( ) Just Married
(x) Gothika
( ) Nightmare on Elm Street
( ) Sixteen Candles
( ) Remember the Titans
( ) Coach Carter
( ) The Grudge
( ) The Grudge 2
(x) The Mask
( ) Son Of The Mask
Total so far: 50

( ) Bad Boys
( ) Bad Boys 2
( ) Joy Ride
( ) Lucky Number Slevin
(x) Ocean’s Eleven
(x) Ocean’s Twelve
(x) Bourne Identity
(x) Bourne Supremecy
( ) Lone Star
( ) Bedazzled
(x) Predator I
(x) Predator II
( ) The Fog
(x) Ice Age
( ) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
( ) Curious George
Total so far: 57

(x) Independence Day
( ) Cujo
( ) A Bronx Tale
(x) Darkness Falls
( ) Christine
(x) ET
( ) Children of the Corn
( ) My Bosses Daughter
( ) Maid in Manhattan
(x) War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour
(x) Rush Hour 2
Total so far: 63

( ) Best Bet
( ) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
(x) She’s All That
( ) Calendar Girls
( ) Sideways
(x) Mars Attacks
(x) Event Horizon
( ) Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
( ) Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator
(x) The Terminator 2
(x) The Terminator 3
Total so far: 71

(x) X-Men
(x) X2
(x) X-3
(x) Spider-Man
(x) Spider-Man 2
( ) Sky High
(x) Jeepers Creepers
(x) Jeepers Creepers 2
(x) Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Little Mermaid
(x) Freaky Friday
(x) Reign of Fire
( ) The Skulls
(x) Cruel Intentions
(x) Cruel Intentions 2
( ) The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek
(x) Shrek 2
Total so far: 86

( ) Swimfan
( ) Miracle on 34th street
( ) Old School
( ) The Notebook
( ) K-Pax
( ) Krippendorf’s Tribe
(x) A Walk to Remember
( ) Ice Castles
( ) Boogeyman
(x) The 40-year-old-virgin
Total so far: 88

(x) Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
(x) Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
(x) Lord of the Rings Return Of the King
(x) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
(x) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
(x) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Total so far: 94

( ) Baseketball
( ) Hostel
( ) Waiting for Guffman
( ) House of 1000 Corpses
( ) Devils Rejects
( ) Elf
(x) Highlander
( ) Mothman Prophecies
( ) American History X
( ) Three
Total so Far: 95

( ) The Jacket
( ) Kung Fu Hustle
( ) Shaolin Soccer
( ) Night Watch
(x) Monsters Inc.
(x)Titanic
(x) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
(x) Shaun Of the Dead
( ) Willard
Total so far: 99

( ) High Tension
( ) Club Dread
( ) Hulk
(x) Dawn Of the Dead
(x) Hook
( ) Chronicle Of Narnia The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
(x) 28 days later
( ) Orgazmo
( ) Phantasm
(x) Waterworld
Total so far: 104

(x) Kill Bill vol 1
(x) Kill Bill vol 2
(x) Mortal Kombat
( ) Wolf Creek
( ) Kingdom of Heaven
( ) the Hills Have Eyes
( ) I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
( ) The Last House on the Left
( ) Re-Animator
( ) Army of Darkness
Total so far: 107

(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
( ) Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
( ) Ewoks The Battle For Endor
Total so far: 113

(x) The Matrix
(x) The Matrix Reloaded
(x) The Matrix Revolutions
(x) Animatrix
( ) Evil Dead
(x) Evil Dead 2
(x) Team America: World Police
( ) Red Dragon
( ) Silence of the Lambs
(x) Hannibal
Total so far: 120

Good Times


December 17, 2006

Redesign

I redesigned my blog, it’s not exactly finished but I wanted to get it online so that I can focus on other things.

Grungy Times


November 28, 2006

RSI–Inducing Shredfest

Title:
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Guitar Hero 2 is a little bit harder than Guitar Hero.

Some things are made much easier, like descending scales (thanks to easier pull-offs) – I found myself getting 4x multipliers on solos that i’d barely pass on the original. Which probably just means I never learned to play the original properly.

The songs themselves tend to be much faster and more complicated. Even the earlier songs feature some nasty solos on expert. The song choice is also a little questionable, mostly with the songs in the middle parts of the song list. The earlier and later songs are reasonably well known and are quite fun to play but the rest are quite a chore to get through, except for Sweet Child O’ Mine which is fun if a little easy. The game has a good ending though, if you’ve finally managed to nail Hangar 18 on expert you’ll find Free Bird to be an almost relaxing finale (one that happens to be about 8 minutes long).

Yet again the real challenge is in the bonus songs which you have to unlock using money earned during the main game. Trogdor is a bit of fun, Thunderhorse by Dethklok (see Metalocalypse on Adult Swim) is better. Another Freezepop song Less Talk More Rokk is here and at first it seems insane but it’s actually quite easy and is a lot of fun. The hardest song in the game is supposed to be Jordan by Buckethead, something which seems quite believable.

The song which I most enjoy playing is Beast and the Harlot by Avenged Sevenfold, the chorus is bouncy fun.


October 30, 2006

Mother's Ruin

Oh dear. I have been home again for only two days, and already there is a problem.

The problem is this: we have no gin.

Seems quite simple, does it not? Not so much a problem as a small hiccup between trips to Tesco. There is no gin, therefore we put it on the shopping list and buy it next time we go up. Then we can have gin and tonic and sit around whilst we argue about whose turn it is to cook and who failed to notice we were out of chopped tomatoes*. Huzzah. There may even be some olives, which is always nice.

However, this fails to factor in one other quite important point of note: my mother.

You see, way back in the beginning of the summer, when I moved back in, my mother was against the presence of The Gin. Gin was a bad thing: it was expensive, bad for our health, and an all round Extravagant Bad Habit. Nevertheless, as a twenty-something non-smoker and ex-caffeine addict, I felt that I was allowed an EBH; moreover that it was my positive duty as a young person to keep up one EBH; and so I fought for The Gin, and The Gin stayed. As did some tonic and half a lemon wrapped up in clingfilm in the fridge, but they were just optional extras, and you know, nice.

So The Gin entered our lives. Only for half an hour a couple of times a week, of course, but it soon became a regular fixture.

And soon after that, it was not down to me offering to make us a nice drink with my mother yielding delicately and naughtily after a little persuasion, it was my mother coming in and going ‘pour us one, go on’ and as she drank, rolling her eyes and telling me what a bad influence I was, and if it wasn’t for me she wouldn’t be drinking it. But apparently, despite the way the tables have turned, I am still responsible for driving my mother to a drink once or twice a week.

And now that we have no gin, a whole new dilemma is born.

There are four possibilities:

1. Buy more gin. Allow vicious cycle and recriminations to continue, but also ensure that gin and tonics are available for weekends and the odd ‘needing a drink’ times. But then must shoulder the guilt placed upon me by mother.

2. Buy more gin with own money. Mother feels grateful to me for allowing her to share, and therefore blame is lifted from my shoulders as am doing a Good Thing. But I have very little money.

3. Don’t buy gin. Although technically sensible option, will end up going to pub to buy drinks, and as mentioned before, have very little money. And when friends come round, will have nothing to offer them but tap water and something disgusting in a 2ltr bottle in the fridge that my brother abandoned when he went off to university. Maybe even end up trying this out of desperation and dying from rabies or similar.

4. Buy something less desirable to mother. However, as proved by the ‘Baileys Is Such A Teenage Drink’ debacle of six Christmases ago, this could be difficult.

There is, of course, option five, which is waiting for my mother to crack and purchase some gin herself, unprompted by me or a shopping list. However, this could horribly backfire and still all be my fault, and moreover be a far worse offence than merely persuading her to buy the stuff in the first place. I’m not sure I want to wait for this to happen, and should it happen, it may even tip me over into teetotalism (for a month at least, until the scandal dies down.)

----------------------------------------

*In this house there are either too many cans of chopped tomatoes or not enough. It is impossible to have a satisfactory number of cans. Much research has been done, many experiments have been carried out, but it is a problem that will probably never have a solution.


October 23, 2006

He's back, alive and blind as a bat

Title:
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

Approximately every decade something wonderful happens, a Bat Out Of Hell album is released. They always have a selection of awesome tracks with a few fantastic duets thrown in.

Bat 3 starts with the title track which is a bizarre fusion of old-school dramatic Meat Loaf with effected vocals and general awesomeness, it’s a long ‘un at 7 minutes but the nice mellow part in the middle breaks things up nicely. Track 2 is the absolutely amazing power ballad “Blind As A Bat” which is one of the many tracks on this album that deserves to be on a greatest hits album, so is track 3 though. Meat Loaf has taken Jim Steinman’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” and made it awesome again, it’s pretty darned powerful especially with Marion Raven’s vocals.

“Bad For Good” is very classic Meat Loaf, flowing and cheesy vocals with the backing choir, not entirely sure it justifies it’s length of 7:30 though. Then it’s time for another ballad with “Cry For Me” which is typical ballad with symphonic strings and general niceness. Track 6 is “In the land of the pig (the butcher is king)”, notice the trademark bracketed title? This one is by far the heaviest song on the album and features the fantastic Steve Vai on guitars, it’s very different from the rest of the album but the solo is nice.

“Monstro” is basically an extended introduction for the fantastic “Alive” which is possibly the best song on the album. There’s basically nothing wrong with this song, it’s incredibly uplifting and is an instant classic. It has a beautiful melody, excellent backing choir, nice solo and superb outro. The track is followed by the mellow-yet-powerful “If God Could Talk”, it’s nice.

“If it ain’t broke” is more traditional Meat Loaf, a bit like “life is a lemon”. “What about love” is another ballad featuring duet awesomeness. “Seize the night” is long and weird, but still good. “The Future Just Ain’t What It Used To Be” is a little bit rock gospel featuring guitar solo goodness, possibly a bit too long though. “Cry to Heaven” is a short ballady outro song, not particularly great but not bad.

Everyone should love Meat Loaf because it’s over-the-top and awesome.


October 14, 2006

Televisions

Everyone loves televisions, even if they don’t. Crazy!

This year there are some new televisions that are pretty good.

Heroes

Follows the stories of a number of people with emerging special powers, their paths cross in seemingly coincidental ways but so far they haven’t realised it. There’s a few scary people too. It’s an interesting series so far, a bit Unbreakable-esque, the good thing is that despite having these powers, the makers of the show aren’t rushing to get them using them (though fear not, it’s not as slow as Clark’s discovery of new powers in Smallville). Compelling times.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

A long-running comedy show that’s a bit SNL is getting a bit too safe with it’s content and the guy in charge gets angry live on tv and gets fired. Enter sexy new station boss who rehires two ex-members of the team to make it all awesome again, one of these dudes is Matt Perry (aka Chandler) and he’s doing a pretty good job of it. Amusing times.

Shark

Crack defense lawyer develops a conscience after one of the dudes he defends goes on to murder someone. He gets hired by the government people to work for the DA as a prosecutor. It’s good because even though he’s on the other team he still fights dirty. Good times.


October 04, 2006

Spider woman here i come!!

Well i have wanted to join the climbing club for ages but always felt i was too heavy to do so. Now that i am about half way through the weight loss i feel ready to join. Really excited, especially as ive had to come along way to get to this point.

Tomorrow 4-6pm is a taster session so well see how i get on. How exciting!! Ive even got funky shoes and a fab furry chalk bag that i can point to good use! :D


Well i've joined after 2 years…

I went to my first meeting on Monday and for lunch today, both were really good. On monday i got to meet some new people who are friends with Ollie who was kind enough to help me go in the first place. Everyone seemed really lovely – quite exciting that i have this opportunity to strengthen and explore my faith as well as making new friends.

Lunch today was good too, met a few more people and it meant that i was there on my own – sort of had to get over a mental barrier.


September 14, 2006

Video: Meat Loaf – It's All Coming Back To Me Now

Follow-up to Free Mp3: Meat Loaf – Monster's Loose from Andy's Dumb Ramblings

I’d argue that this isn’t a cover, because the song was originally by Jim Steinman who writes most of Meat Loaf’s songs anyway. Anywho this is a video from the new album “Bat Out Of Hell 3: The Monster Is Loose” that comes out at the end of October.

It’s an impressive video, not because of any crazy technical voodoo, but because of the emotion on display, it’s something we don’t often see in modern music videos.

A larger version of the video is linked to from the offical Meat Loaf site, Direct Link


September 11, 2006

Live Comment Preview

I’ve hacked a new feature into this blog, live comment preview. It requires that javascript is enabled and you have to be viewing the actual blog itself. It’s not capable of previewing all parts of textile, but it will work with the basic formatting syntax.

See if it works, i’ve only tested it on my PC.


August 14, 2006

A woman's place…

Many proverbs are wise and thought–provoking. However on scanning through the appendix of my dictionary (as you do) I came upon some real gems. Not least:

If you cannot ride two horses at once you should not be in the circus

Which seems like perfectly good advice, or:

If you would be happy for a week take a wife; if you would be happy for a month kill a pig; but if you would be happy all your life plant a garden

Then there are the incredibly un–PC phrases, like:

One Englishman can beat three Frenchmen

Surely not at football, or:

A woman, a dog and a walnut tree, the more you beat them the better they be

And of course there are the Yorkshire ones:

Hear all, see all, say nowt, tak' all, keep all, gie nowt, and if tha ever does owt for nowt do it for thysen

To finish with here is the weather forecast:

If Candlemas day be sunny a bright, winter will have another flight; if Candlemas day be cloudy with rain, winter is gone, and won't come again


August 07, 2006

Only Collect

I have a problem.

My problem is with Stuff.

Stuff, it should be noted, is not Crap. Where as Crap applies to all those objects which are, essentially useless and pointless whimsies*, Stuff applies to things that one day will have a purpose. You can identify Stuff by the arguments about said Stuff that usually result in conversations along the lines of:
'What's this?'
'That's my oogamaflip.'
'When are you ever going to use that? Chuck it.'
'But what happens when one day, I want to flip my oogas, and I haven't got my oogamaflip? What then?'

Stuff is all those things that one day, somewhere, sometime, will be used, in a universe where everyone flips oogas on a regular basis and the sun shines and money trees grow out of the ground and your hair is always, always ,shiny and flicky and gorgeous.

So, you see, Stuff and I have a somewhat precarious relationship. It needs me to pretend that one day I will use it and it will have a purpose, and I need it to pretend that one day I will be living a life where I will use it and it will have a purpose. It's co–dependency, of sorts.

And it worked, whilst I had two homes. My Stuff could be distributed evenly between the Wirral and the Leamington, and so as I moved my Useful Items back and forth with me, the ratio of Useful Items:Stuff in any place in which I was living stayed at roughly 50:50, which is about the level present in any normal household.

The problem has only arisen since I've crammed all of my Stuff into one room again, and now, by some fluke, the levels of Useful Items to Stuff are heavily unbalanced, listing somewhere around 30:70. My Stuff surrounds me, and taunts me with all the things I could, one day, do, and I dare not open my wardrobe, for fear of a rain of flippertygibbets, thingamajigs, and gadgeterijitas.

And yet, if I throw them all out, what then? It's like admitting to myself that I will never live a life that requires any of these things; that I will be living a Thoroughly Useful Life for the rest of my days, and that in itself is more terrifying than possible concussion every time I need a clean T–shirt. My Stuff gives me hope that one day, despite 9–6 and minimum pay, life will be a bit luxurious, a little frivolous and ever–so–ever–so slightly bizarre around the edges.

So the Stuff must stay, at least until I look in a mirror, see grey hair and wrinkles, and accept the fact that I will never flip an ooga again. But, to be quite honest, if I was still wrinkly and aged and living at home, I'd probably have bigger things to worry about than Stuff.

—————————————————————————————————

*Whimsies count as crap except in the case of those suffering from a Whimsy Addiction. Depending on the severity of the case, they can be classed as either Stuff or Useful Items, although you may need to prduce your medical records before a reclassification can take place.


August 05, 2006

Am I Binging? Alcohol is bad for you shocker

In shocking news reports this week it turns out that alcohol is bad for you. This has long been a view held by readers of the Daily Mail, however the rest of the population was in ignorance until a paper was published on the topic.

Dr. Mary Beer headed up the research team who spent many hours sitting in pubs drinking beer and eating crisps. Their findings were that Binge Drinking, the latest craze sweeping the nation, can result in being 'quite drunk'. Research also suggested that sobriety/drunkeness is a binary state – you're either drunk or not. This contradicts previous thinking that a person would get gradually more and more drunk as they polished of increasing numbersof alcoholic beverages. This means that you can feel fine one minute but the next you could be dressed like rambo and singing Dolly Parton on the karaoke machine.

Alarmingly, many people don't know what constitutes a binge. Responses to a survey caried out at B&Q varied from 'one pint of beer and a packet of peanuts' to 'a hammer, five nails and a plank of wood'. Accepted wisdom has it that four pints is a binge for a man whereas three is enough for a woman. In truth it is much more complicated than this with factors such as the amount the person has eaten, whether or not it is a full moon and the proximity of the individual to Salisbury cathedral all playing and important role. Indeed the lack of knowledge about bingeing is such that you could yourself be on a binge right now and not even know it.

Alcohol effects different people in different ways, some become friendly and outgoing whereas others become violent or develop an irrational attraction to the barmaid. More recently there have been numerous cases of people spontaneously turning into Tom Cruise – no explanation has yet been provided for this. Also kebabs become a desirable food–stuff. Recently a man from Bury tried eating a kebab whilst sober and was immediately rushed to hospital where he remains in intensive care.

As a counterpoint there are still scientists who maintain that a glass of wine a day is good for you, unfortunately this is only if you use it as shampoo. To stay safe from binge drinking the News of the World will be publishing pictures of pubs in your area so you don't accidentally walk into one.


July 26, 2006

Why Warwick isn't the worst university in the world ever

Sometimes you may feel frustrated with the University of Warwick plc ltd inc. But after completing my teacher training at another university (nee poly) I can assure you that there are worse places to go.

When I got sent a letter in June inviting me for an interview on the 21st April I should have known something was up, but I ploughed on regardless. Alarm bells really started to ring when after being offered a place on the course it took about four hundred and fifty six phone calls – four hundred and fifty five too many in my view – to confirm that, yes, I would be taking it up.

And this set the tone for the rest fo the year. Being sent on placement to a school that had a completely different name to the one they told me – and yes, it was the right one. Trying to hand in an assignment and finding that there was no one in the building to collect it. No one visting me on placements and no explanation being offered for this, leading to severe abandonment issues.

So it was appropriate enough that yesterday I received a letter from the university saying that they hoped to send out my results within the next couple of weeks. These being the same results I got two weeks ago. Even when they get it right they get it wrong.


July 01, 2006

Just me and the yellow wallpaper

I'm not used to living in a room with nothing on the walls. Apart from the blutac stains (please still give me my deposit back, Mr Landlord…), all my posters, cards and odds and ends of material and fairy lights are now all sitting in bags in the spare room, probably causing some sort of health and safety hazard. It's all very odd.

And to add to that, now that there's no wistful Pre–Raphaelite women and pretty cityscapes to distract my attention, I've been forced to contemplate just how weird the colour of my walls actually is. I'm sure they weren't like that before. I'm positive they were a lovely shade of cream, not the colour of goopy mustard.

I'm also sure my typing never used to sound so loud and echoey and ghostly, and my floorboards didn't used to creak in such an ominous way. And just now, my wardrobe door mysteriously swung open, for no good reason, in a way I've never seen it do before. I'm waiting for the lightbulb to flicker, my candle to gutter, and strange shadows to be thrown across the wall. I have this feeling this could all go horribly Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and tomorrow will see me being carted out of the house in one of those complicated straitjacket things and sent off to a Victorian madhouse.

Having said that, it's nice to think of this room as haunted by objects past. I like to think, when I leave tomorrow, I'll leave a little of me in this room (not counting the blutac stains). It's been a wonderful final year, in a wonderful house, with wonderful housemates and wonderful friends, and I couldn't have asked for more.

Hmm. I was going to actually write something about how I can't break the habit of carrying my university card around with me, despite the fact that is is now merely a useless piece of plastic with a really bad photo of me being eighteen and trying and failing to look pretty (because I was a hopeless, if hopeful, teenager) but I think this entry has descended so far into mush that there's no hope for it now.

But if ever a moment was deserving of mush, this is probably it. Thank you to everyone who has made this year what it was. I'm going to miss you all so much.


June 28, 2006

Ten Things In Our House

The Cupboard of Doom
Nobody mentioned, when we signed the house lease, that we would have a fifth housemate waiting for us. Or more specifically, waiting for me, on the night I moved in before everyone else. My mother had left me, night had fallen, and it was only then, on my own, in the dark, that I saw there was a curious door under the stairs, and decided that obviously, on my own, in the dark, it was a good idea to investigate said door. So, I pulled it gaily open, only to be confronted by a dismembered doll head splattered with a red substance gleaming evilly in the electric light.

That, readers, was, and continues to be the Barbie Head Of Doom. She sits in the window in the cupboard under the stairs, and we like to think of her as our house guardian for scaring burglars and disconcerting our house guests, kind of like a bull mastiff but pinker and more smiley. And after my first shock, I have come to feel more affectionate towards her, and will actually be sorry to bid her adieu.

My Desk
My desk is beautiful. No really, it is. It's made of real wood and everything, and has beautiful slidey drawers and a lovely solid polished top. And to think it almost wasn't mine.

You see, when we moved in, my room almost had it all. Almost. There was a bed, bookcase, dressing table and wardrobe, but no desk. And even though I tend to do most of my studying, such as it is, in/on bed, I felt I needed a surface on which to stack the books I hadn't read and to write the to do lists of things I would never actually do. So when the landlord came over, I sheepishly asked him if I could have a desk, and moreover, if he could possibly find me a desk that would fit in the niche I'd left for it.

Surprisingly, he smiled and nodded, and said 'Of course. You've made it look really nice in here – it would be a shame to have to mess it up." This was on the night he came round at 9pm with his toolbox and also rehung a door, fixed the toilet lock, and brought a new mattress for my housemate. And at 3pm the next day, he pulled up in his car with my lovely solid wood desk that fitted perfectly in the space. We love Spa Estates. Anyone looking for South Leam houses next year, go to Spa. They are lovely lovely people, and deserve your business.

Our living room ceiling
Our living room isn't really a room, as such. It only really has one wall, which is the exterior wall of our house, and which also includes our kitchen window and the sliding glass door leading to Steve's room. The other three walls are plastic conservatory windows, and as for the roof… well, it's a beautiful construction of corrugated translucent plastic.There's also a small paint–splattered basin, and a mains drainage cover which you can have hours of fun bouncing up and down on. It's surprising how quickly you get used to it, and also how useful the kitchen window is as a service hatch.

Spongebob the toilet
When you flush our downstairs toilet, it sounds like Spongebob Squarepants. That is, if you can get it to flush without sticking your hand inside the tank and tugging at random bits of the mechanism. It is also decorated with some interesting mould patterns on the walls, and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the famous biting spider discovered by Layla, and several families of woodlice. It's like Nature Corner. We're probably doing our bit for several endangered insect species, and probably creating a few exciting mutant ones as well.

The inexplicable hole in my ceiling
There has been speculation, there have been theories. There has even been brief and fruitless investigation. All that can be ascertained is that it is there, and it is now forever inexplicable.

Steve's window
Steve has a window that is not so much a window as a sliding door leading to the living room. It's quite useful as an escape route for situations when unexpected guests arrive and we're caught in the living room in pyjamas and no makeup. And in most situations, instead of cowering behind the freezer as happened on one notable occasion, we can slip silently through Steve's room and hightail it up the stairs before anyone is the wiser. Cowering behind the freezer is only useful as a last resort, and if the unexpected guest is a certain boy, it's fairly fruitless, as he will chase after you. You have been warned.

The Stairs of Intellect
Every intelligent discussion we've ever had in this house has been conducted on the stairs. Despite having four nice bedrooms and a well–appointed living room, we will still gather on the stairs. Jess sits at the top, Layla near the bottom, and I favour the turn of the stairs, as I can curl up in a corner and nod sagely. If all discussions about world politics and religion happened on a flight of stairs, I'm sure the world would be a better place for it.

The 'orchard'
Our garden is a carport, a mysterious shed, and two fruit trees. These two trees have gradually been trying to take over the house and have had to be restrained at various points over the year by rakes, brooms, and an elderly washing line. They did, however, also provide edible apples and pears and pretty pink and white blossom, so we don't hold their transgressions against them.

The ladies' bicycles
Should you ever feel like having a famous five moment in this house, fear not. We have the materials for such a jolly jape. Two lovely old ladies' bicycles, with bells that go triiiing and baskets on the handlebars. You can stow your luncheon meat and ginger beer safely away and go trolling out through the streets of South Leam in style. We have been tempted. Very tempted. What larks, eh, what larks.

The assorted nails in the picture rails
We've put them to many uses. I have a fluffy white feathered fairylit halo hanging above my bed. Layla hangs a handbag from one of hers wedged into the wall at a convenient height. And Steve wins the prize for most innovative with a halfsize guitar dangling merrily from one in his room. We know how to make the most of what we've got in this house, that we do.

Goodbye and thank you house. You have done us proud. We'll not be forgetting you.


June 12, 2006

Fake–A–Holiday

So you've finished your exams. Your bank balance is looking alarmingly red, and yet all around you people are swanning off on city breaks and jaunts to Spanish beaches whilst you sit in your room and stare at the horribly familiar hole in the ceiling that is still, even after nine months, inexplicable. You want to be one of those people tugging a little case to the airport, who have a bottle of specialty alcohol and some local colour jewellery now standing on their desks and who have albums on Facebook with their happy shiny post–exam faces obliterating landmarks. Unfortunately, your overdraft forbids this. You haven't even got a generous other half who might, possibly, even in the realms of fantasy, sweep you off on a surprise mini–break. In that sort of situation, a girl could hope. But alas, this is not to be.

But fear not, I have been trialling a solution all this week, and am pleased to announce it a success. It's very simple, when you think about it. All you have to do is bring the holiday to you.

Let me introduce you to Fake-A-HolidayTM

Spot the difference. The girl on the left is on holiday, the girl on the right isn't, but you couldn't tell, could you? Looks like a holiday, smells like a holiday, but essentially isn't a holiday for me, thereby coming with very little of the attendant confusion, expense and general hassle of the usual going–away lark. I spent the first part of this week being at home with my university friends who were 'on holiday', and the second part of this week being at university with my home friends who were also 'on holiday.'

You see, the way it works is this. If I was at home with my home friends, I wouldn't do half the things I did on the Wirral this week with my university friends. Similarly, if I was here in Leamington with my university friends, I wouldn't do half the things I did this weekend with my home friends. It's like living in a whole different place, albeit a confusing one where everyone you've ever known and all the places you've ever known suddenly seem to squish themselves together into one big gaily patterned lump.

So on the Wirral I spent more time on the beach than I would normally, and in Leamington I went to a few more bars and restaurants than I would normally, and everything seemed just a little bit different.

I suppose it did help that the sun had also decided to pretend it was on holiday this week and go a tad tropical, but I reckon the theory would still work even in our lovely normal English weather. Even if it had chucked it down for three days, I still reckon that staring at the inexplicable hole in the ceiling could have been a new and exciting activity if attempted in the right company. Try it. You'll see.

The holiday, not staring at the hole in my ceiling, although you're more than welcome to do that too if you want. It's oddly shaped, is disconcertingly dark in the middle, and is, as mentioned before, completely inexplicable. If demand is high, I may begin charging entrance. Who knows, I might even make enough to actually go on holiday.


May 21, 2006

I just thought you should know…

Revision is less mind–numbingly awful when you are wearing red shoes.

Try it. You'll see.


May 19, 2006

Notpron

Writing about web page http://www.notpron.com

The self proclaimed 'hardest riddle on the internet'. Over 139 fiendisly difficult levels of a crazy internet based game where the object is to progress from one level to the next by solving the riddle hidden somewhere in each page.

The levels are represented on screen by an image with a small number in the top left representing the level you are currently on. using only your wits you must find the next screen by whatever means possible (outside of using internet spoilers).

So far it has me foxed already on level 8 (and I had help from my housemates). Be warned however that it may consume your life so if you really want to do that revision its probably best not to click.

On the other hand it may be just the stimulus you need to get that thinking engine back on track.

Swings and roundabouts.


May 18, 2006

Much Ado About Fruit

I have a problem. There is a banana festering somewhere in my room, and I'm not sure where. I picked it out of the fruit bowl this morning because it was getting to the stage where the browny black bits were starting to outweigh the yellow, meaning to eat it for breakfast. However, after a few choice diversions including Facebook, frozen milk, spiders in the hallway and fixing my umbrella, breakfast and the banana were both forgotten. Until now, and now I can't find said banana. I have no recollection of where I might have put it down. All I know is that it is lurking somewhere, probably in my room, and probably slowly rotting as I speak.

I would quite like to eat this banana. But if I don't find it within the next few hours or so, it will have gone beyond the point where it would be decent to eat it, and much as I loathe throwing food away, I think the only place for the banana will be the bin. And even worse, if I don't find it soon, I may wake up tomorrow morning with a funny smell in the room, and find the mangled corpse of my formerly yellow friend stuffed in a desk drawer or concealed under the bed.

The fact that I don't know where it's gone is starting to bother me more than a little bit. Not least because I seem to be losing my memory, which I thought only happened once you'd had children. It won't be long before I start forgetting conversations that happened yesterday, and trailing off in the middle of sentences, and sounding even more like my mother than I do already.

On the upside, any day that contains Sigur Ros, thunderstorms, red wine and rainbows can't be bad. And even if my memory gets worse, I do have a digital camera to remind me of things like this:

Right. Now all I have to do is find that bloody banana…


May 17, 2006

For the sake of art…

I have had a revelation. A blinding flash of inspiration, that came to me this morning as I lay in bed looking at the pile of books looming on my desk, and thought I'd really rather not, thanks. And then, my gaze stretched to the wall beyond, and the picture on the wall. I could do that, I thought. That, there, is my vocation. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.

Yes, that's right. I don't need my degree. Not at all. For I am going to give it all up and become a Preraphaelite model.

And here, should you still doubt the wisdom of my decision, are five good reasons why.

  1. I will get to lie about all day in bed, probably somewhere nice. And even if there is no bed, there will be many many cushions.
  2. I will never ever need to use hair straighteners ever again. I can let my hair free to curl and wave and go crazy in the way it loves to do, all the time, and I don't need to feel ashamed next to all the other eng lit girls with their perfectly straight and shiny hair in manner of Pantene advert.
  3. I can spend all my time in flowing skirts and dresses in pretty colours. No more jeans.
  4. There will probably be a a few lithe young men in strategically draped grecian robes hanging about the place. This can never be accounted a bad thing.
  5. My big hips will be attractive and desirable and will be magically transformed into things of beauty by the artist's brush, befitting goddesses and heroines of literature.

However, there are also, as with any career choice, a few downsides to consider.

  1. Loss of feeling in arms from prolonged lying around in ravishing poses.
  2. Possible pneumonia from floating about in little clothing in rivers emulating Ophelia and the Lady of Shalott etc.
  3. Problems with maintaining a vacuously attractive and wistful gaze, as as proved in my exam yesterday ('Mathematicians are reminded they may NOT take string into this exam'), I have difficulty keeping a straight face for long periods.
  4. Men staring at me for any length of time borders on being a little creepy, especially whilst I'm asleep.
  5. Wearing trailing skirts continually, whilst tempting, may pose a bit of an issue in rainy English weather. May become so waterlogged whilst, for example, buying groceries, that I can't physically move.

Hmm… Maybe I'll stick with the revision a little while longer. After all, the main thing is that I have options, I suppose.


May 14, 2006

Garbage

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.

Squiggle.