I can’t help but feel there’s something a little morbidly foreboding about listening to Mozart’s Requiem on the eve of my first exam. Or maybe it’s just incredibly appropriate. Well, I’ve got work to do and it’s pretty and it’s sophisticated and just maybe a little of Mozart’s creative improvisational genius will rub off onto me so that I can actually have a decent stab at this Consti paper. On the plus side, no one feels like they know what they’re doing. Which is about as close to a comforting thought as I can muster.
Revision has been getting progressively more intense over the last few weeks, although never reaching quite the levels for which I might have hoped. There’s certainly still a lot to get done last minute before each exam. But it’s here now so there’s no looking back.
A few days ago I started working on another illustrated poem in the style you’ll be familiar with from the selection in the Water quarter. It was nice to be creative and actually feel like I’d produced something by the end of the day, rather than the usual feeling at the end of a day’s revision where nothing has been fresh or new and it all feels like running in circles or chasing your own tail. And, despite my best efforts, I haven’t even grown a tail. You’ll see the final results of the poem, The Girl With Very Long Legs, soon. I’m actually quite happy with it now.
The wonderful thing about last-minute revision is that it becomes easy to rule out certain things. For example, there’s no way I’m going to remember how to spell “Ng Yuen Shiu” tomorrow, so why waste time learning that case!? The uncompromising, hard line approach to liberal revision…
And for anyone taking exams at the moment, just remember: it could be worse!
Last Monday was Catherine’s birthday and since it coincided with the special salsa-themed formal hall, we used that to celebrate it. The day was filled with a constant stream of “dück”-themed cards and presents (beginning with a post-it note on her door), based on the northern girl’s complete inability to pronounce the word correctly. From me she got a colourful kids’ book, Little Quack, with every occurance of “duck” modified with umlauts. After a decent meal, the party room was opened for salsa-ing with some of the top uni dancers. Not exactly my thing, as you might have guessed…
Instead I was joining in the antics in K Kitchen where Dave and Angie were preparing Cat’s birthday treat since the expected cake had not been bought. They had chosen to melt some of the leftover Keggs to create a set of “top hats”, chocolate and marshmallow treats that are commonly made by 7-year-olds. And yet somehow they managed to screw it up in hilariously disastrous fashion. And Since I had my camera with me, it was all fully documented. Their proudest moment was in defying the laws of physics by making the chocolate drier and harder when adding water to the melting mixture. I was warned on pain of something very painful not to let anyone see the footage until after everyone had eaten them. Which caused much amusement and a few groans at the chocolatey disaster.
“They were interesting…by interesting I mean difficult…by difficult I mean embarassing.”
– Dave on making Top Hats
Catherine, of course, loved them. Bright, colourful and sugary, what more could she possibly ask for?
Saturday night was Keggfest, a genius idea (yes, I can say that because I’m merely quoting Lucia, not expressing my own opinion) I came up with over the holidays. Since we didn’t get to spend Easter together here I figured an Easter-themed party was in order. The basic premise was that each person brought with them a Kegg, as impressive an Easter egg as they could find that must have been bought at sale-price after Easter, which then became communal property to be torn open, smashed and consumed in the tasteful chocolate orgy that is Keggfest.
So everyone turned up at K-Bar around 9pm to join in the fun, bearing much chocolate and producing the impressive eggstack you can see. Vast quantities of chocolate were consumed despite some uninspiring performances by a few individuals (you know who you are!) to the syrupy sound of such chocolate-themed songs as Shanks & Bigfoot’s Sweet Like Chocolate and the inimitable Chef’s Chocolate Salty Balls
Aside from a little disrespect by an uninvited guest (but then K-Bar has always been a “the more the merrier” kind of place), it was a highly successful night enjoyed by all attendees. The leftover chocolate was all dumped in the kitchen and mysteriously disappeared within the next 48 hours.
In other news, Cambridge was comfortably won by the Lib Dems which marginally restored my faith in people’s ability to make the right decisions to effect positive change. More interesting was the Central Croydon seat which the Conservatives snatched from Labour by just 75 votes (19,899 to 19,974). It was like poetry.
I have been officially drafted into the Ball Committee now, so have been drawn into negotiations regarding the hosting of the website which I shall be maintaining. Entering the gritty underbelly of College that is student politics has been an enlightening experience, all very cutthroat (with dingy basements – where the leftover drinks are being stored) and film noir (secret meetings – despite the bright sunshine). It was interesting to discover how aware the college are of personal relationships between students where they feel it may affect smooth running, such as within the JCR committee. For obvious reasons much of the Ball-related information is classified until the final decisions have been made, but you’ll hear how things progress.
In the last two days most of the college seem to have been drunk except me. I’m beginning to feel left behind. Not that I was missing out on the festivities, of course. Au contraire, I was merely experiencing the carnage to the fullest in my lightly inebriated state. Last night was the Whitby Society‘s annual dinner. The medics have quite a reputation and much revelry had clearly occurred by the time they staggered en masse into the bar. Lyds swayed perpetually while playing pool with a sober Tom. Catherine described herself as not being as drunk as she should, just very hyper. So I left her to it. Her assessment may have been a little hasty since she could barely stay upright by the time she left. And yet for all their reputation, they were undoubtedly outdone the previous night by the Danby Society, comprising of Downing’s natscis, mathmos and engineers…
Ball President Will greeted me with, “Now I don’t want you to get the wrong impression; I’m not always drunk,” to which I reminded him that the first thing I’d seen on leaving my room that evening had been him rolling around on the grass. Andy and Irina were both suitably merry (for which Irina firmly blamed Will) and Sarah was slightly flustered by the strange people hitting on her. Annabel didn’t even remember speaking to me. “There’s too many physicists in here; it’s scary!” proclaimed one – er – physicist. And on both nights I headed back home smiling, despite the fact I still had a fair chunk of work to get done for the next morning’s supervisions.
It was also Ravi’s birthday yesterday which was fun. Nothing too strenuous, Zizzi‘s pizza and Family Guy in the evening before mingling with the drunkards in the bar later. I didn’t go out clubbing with him but was up with Angie on his return to greet him with a triple fudge stack replete with candles proclaiming his age in binary. Angie had asked me whether you could we could put 19 candles into it, but after watching her attempt to operate a lighter I decided that was a distinctly bad idea so designed the alternative system which only required 5 candles. Amusingly it was a drunken Dave who worked it out, not Ravi himself (indeed it was the perfectly sober Ravi who proceeded to smash a glass – must have been the sugar high!).
The various political parties have been targetting the Law Faculty over the last few days. We’re probably a fairly tough bunch to crack all in all, though I found Labour‘s presence somewhat amusing given that we’re not the most Labour-friendly bunch by reputation anyway, moreso given their disastrous approach* to legislating since 1997 which has irritated all of us to no end. The Lib Dems were received far better on their arrival yesterday and today when David Howarth was wished good luck by several of us as we left lectures to go and vote. For those who don’t know, Cambridge is narrowly contested between Labour and the Lib Dems with the Tories trailing behind significantly. As such the Lib Dems have really been pushing for the student vote (although beginning to irritate some of their staunch supporters by flooding their pigeonholes with propaganda). It’ll be an interesting one to watch, both locally and nationally (I’m confidently disappointed that Labour will win but the margin is difficult to call), and I’ll be keeping an eye through the BBC‘s rather nice desktop alerts service. It’s a tiny little application that will show you breaking stories as they happen.
*perhaps naively this presumes, of course, that they have one.
Today I received an email that genuinely unsettled me. On the surface it’s seems innocent enough: a plea for all upstanding citizens to sign a petition that would call for a reversal of a gross miscarriage of justice that grants lifelong anonymity to the two children (now adults) who horrendously violated a killed young Jamie Bulger several years ago. Except that this email, so very easy to add a signature and forward, manages to completely miss the point.
Killers are not released early on a whim; it occurs only if it is genuinely believed they have made significant progress and can be reintroduced into society. No one wants them to reoffend and it’s frankly absurd to think that with such rigorous psychiatric evaluation as the boys have undergone, you or the original author of that emotive email are in a better position to decide how they will behave. Criminals are not given immunity on a whim; people appear to be perfectly happy signing this petition while having no understanding of the case in question. The decision to interfere with European Convention of Human Rights Art. 10 right to freedom of speech was a very serious one, as the papers wished to publish up-to-date photographs along with the whereabouts of the boys once they were released. Interference was only justified here because of the “real and strong possibility” of physical harm or death to the boys. While I can understand the mindset of the average, rational person signing the petition, they seem not to appreciate that the very reason for the anonymity injunction was because of the irrationally violent outrage felt by the sort of people who make death threats and produce such a petition. Trust me, they don’t want to know where these boys are just so they can keep away…
As for the bizarre suggestion that these boys are being given a new life in return for taking one away, I would hope no one is shortsighted enough to ignore the fact that these two boys have spent nearly half their lives so far in prison. They have not had and easy time and will live with what they have done for the rest of their lives. If you believe our criminal justice system is at all about rehabilitation, they deserve the chance to attempt to reintegrate into society without having continually to fear for their lives.
So should you come across it, I would urge you not to sign this petition. Unless, of course, you happen to be a stalwart advocate of the barbaric death penalty and would prefer that they have been gassed/hung/electrocuted/shot/fried/fed to the Sarlacc at the age of ten instead.
“Children can do things when they are children that they would never do
in their later life when they had matured and appreciated.” – Lord Woolf