11 Reasons Why I’m Getting No Work Done

1) I am close enough to coffee for me to feel a constant desire for coffee, but far enough from coffee that it takes 15 mins (there and back) to get it.

2) There is no-one else in my section of the library, thus I feel no shame about watching The Royal Tenenbaums on Netflix.

3) People continue to write annoyingly captivating bullshit (and engaging in equally enthralling Pyrrhic arguments) on Facebook groups which I am a member of.

4) Whilst I’ve installed StayFocusd to keep me from going on websites like this, all I have to do to get round it is open an Incognito window - you’re making it too fucking easy for me!

5) I then spend quite a lot of time wondering why I am trying to beat a system that I chose to install for my own good.

6) Much as I believe I can listen to Desert Island Discs and take notes simultaneously, I cannot. This is one of the great fallacies of my academic career.

7) My spelling has gone to shit. Took me like three attempts to write ‘simultaneously’.

8) I installed the game ‘2048’ onto my phone and have yet to complete it, despite spending approximately two hours a day attempting to.

9) I started following James Franco on Instagram, which is really a full-time job.

10) I spend a lot of time getting half-way through job (or graduate course) applications, then get cold feet and ‘accidentally’ delete my form.

11) Every book I try and read is so dry that my eyes glaze over and I start to crave a coffee, hence the cycle begins again.

(Employ me, Buzzfeed?)

Very tired. Convinced I am going to fail. Concerned that I will be unemployed for foreseeable future. Desperate for another haircut. These are all sensations that I am currently experiencing.

If my entire life is one very long day, then this is the late-morning dip before elevenses. Knowing whether to be confident or despairing has always been a problem of mine, and those moods have fluctuated with rhythmic consistency during my time at Oxford. If it’s hard to guess, my mood is currently closer to the latter. Try as I may to read Milton’s Aeropagitica, I can’t get past the first few paragraphs. i just stare dumbly at the page and start to wonder what the weather is like, outside, amongst the birds and the trees and the running water…

At the same time, I have to tolerate the flood of Instagram pictures that show my fellow English finalists engaging in mock-hilarious intellectual coitus with texts that I have never heard of, let alone considered. Congratulations guys, I really hope that your maniacal colour coding and psychopathically systemic annotations work out for you. I’ll just continue to sit here, staring at paragraph five of Aeropagitica, wishing it was an episode of Game of Thrones, or anything else which I understand/enjoy.

And, of course, on top of all that, I have to worry about next year. Calling it ‘next year’ is something that everyone does, partly because we’re still indoctrinated in the schoolchild mentality - where units of time are governed by ‘years’ - and partly because calling it ‘next year’ is a form of lexical self-denial. ‘Next year’, of course, means the rest of my life. ‘Next year’ is the year that the sequential progression is broken; where being 21-years-old stops informing people of how far through life you really are.

There’s a baby in a red high-chair in this café and it keeps staring at me with a look of disappointment. It’s not even smiling at me. In a horror movie, that’d be a big clue that I’m either a serial killer or a ghost.

If I could fast-forward through the next two months, I probably would (even though I’d be really scared that I’d die in hyper-speed). Not because I’m scared of the exams themselves - worryingly, I’m not an historic worrier about exams - but because I want to get past the point of no return, so that I can stop wondering whether there is/was more than I can/could do. The moment I hang up my sub-fusc at the end of May, I promise not to regret, or even consider, these long, futile days of ambling revision.

But that seems a long time away. Until then, please use the ‘About’ section to find details on how to offer me a job.

Nick invents a word

image

For the first time in the past few years, I had sort-of-semi-forgotten that I do this. Maybe I’m too busy working. Maybe my heart’s not really in it. Maybe I write a very similar column for The Oxford Times. I don’t know, it just hasn’t happened.

The end of term has actually been and gone, in a flurry of coursework deadlines and missed celebrations. I handed in my sort-of-thesis on South African literature, which which I am deeply dissatisfied (alas…), and, with that, my mind and body went into a prescheduled slumber that usually greets the end of term. Of course, this term hasn’t ended. I am still sitting in Pembroke, pretending to work, and will be doing this all Easter. My exams will be starting in under two months according to my calendar, and the only thing I can remember about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the phrase ‘bob-and-wheel’, although I have no idea what it means or pertains to. 

I am trying to avoid, for once, my tendency towards preemptive nostalgia. I’m not sure if there’s already a word for this (please get in touch if there is and you could win some great prizes, ranging from ‘nothing’ to ‘shit all’) but, if there isn’t, there should be. I’d like to coin the word pronostos and hopefully, one day, I’ll have a citation in the OED. Here is my suggested entry:

pronostos, n.

Etymology: <Ancient Greek προ before, pro, Ancient Greek νόστος return home nostos>

1. A preemptive longing to return to an event or situation that has yet to occur, or is currently occurring. 

      2014 NFT Hilton, I’d like to coin the word pronostos…

Related forms: pronost (v), pronostic (adj), pronostically (avb)

                                                    * * *

There you go. I hope the editors of the dictionary are taking note of this. In my mania to avoid talking about my pronostos, I have inadvertently done almost nothing else. I hope nobody had high expectations for this blog post…

English literature is a truly trivial subject. 

I&#8217;ve spent today sitting in a cafe, flicking through books I&#8217;ve already read (which I bought from Waterstones), and generally luxuriating in the glow of this surreal real work, which is meaningless and pointless in equal measure, but also infinitely preferable to working on something impactful or profound. I feel like the only job this could possibly be preparing me for is to work as a judge on some literary prize. Or perhaps a librarian, I haven&#8217;t spoken since I ordered my second coffee.

I am nervous, excited and terrified about my finals exams, which is so complex an emotional response it could come from a Taylor Swift song. It&#8217;s a sensation that&#8217;s full of contradictions- God Oh God I want it to be over, but Christ Oh Christ I&#8217;m scared of being done. I know things are going to get worse, get more intense (possibly stray into Evanescence territory) before bursting, like a salmon from the stream, into the heady brightness of summer, success and serial unemployment.

But the more vexed I get about my impending joblessness (though I am currently jobless, no-one is worrying about it), the more acutely aware I become of my need to get over the finish line. Jesse Owens didn&#8217;t pull up in 1936 after 90 metres and start wondering how he was going to celebrate on the podium, or what he&#8217;d wear for his ticker-tape parade. No, he just powered over that line, won the race, beat the Nazis, and enjoyed the future as and when it came to him. This must be the spirit with which I endeavour to complete finals.

Even though I have none of Owens&#8217; motivation, talent or work ethic, I am going to try and perform to the best of my ability. A better comparison might be to a British athlete at the Winter Olympics: no, snow is not my natural habitat, nor was I capable of being an athlete in any mainstream and sociable sport, but yes, I will give it my all, enjoy my 15 minutes of fame, and then go back to my real career as a professional plumber. Life goes on. I&#8217;ve made it to Sochi, now I&#8217;ve just got to skate my way to victory.

This post was in no way affected by the fact that the cafe I am in has a TV which is showing Winter Olympics highlights. Norwegians are a truly awesome people.

English literature is a truly trivial subject.

I’ve spent today sitting in a cafe, flicking through books I’ve already read (which I bought from Waterstones), and generally luxuriating in the glow of this surreal real work, which is meaningless and pointless in equal measure, but also infinitely preferable to working on something impactful or profound. I feel like the only job this could possibly be preparing me for is to work as a judge on some literary prize. Or perhaps a librarian, I haven’t spoken since I ordered my second coffee.

I am nervous, excited and terrified about my finals exams, which is so complex an emotional response it could come from a Taylor Swift song. It’s a sensation that’s full of contradictions- God Oh God I want it to be over, but Christ Oh Christ I’m scared of being done. I know things are going to get worse, get more intense (possibly stray into Evanescence territory) before bursting, like a salmon from the stream, into the heady brightness of summer, success and serial unemployment.

But the more vexed I get about my impending joblessness (though I am currently jobless, no-one is worrying about it), the more acutely aware I become of my need to get over the finish line. Jesse Owens didn’t pull up in 1936 after 90 metres and start wondering how he was going to celebrate on the podium, or what he’d wear for his ticker-tape parade. No, he just powered over that line, won the race, beat the Nazis, and enjoyed the future as and when it came to him. This must be the spirit with which I endeavour to complete finals.

Even though I have none of Owens’ motivation, talent or work ethic, I am going to try and perform to the best of my ability. A better comparison might be to a British athlete at the Winter Olympics: no, snow is not my natural habitat, nor was I capable of being an athlete in any mainstream and sociable sport, but yes, I will give it my all, enjoy my 15 minutes of fame, and then go back to my real career as a professional plumber. Life goes on. I’ve made it to Sochi, now I’ve just got to skate my way to victory.

This post was in no way affected by the fact that the cafe I am in has a TV which is showing Winter Olympics highlights. Norwegians are a truly awesome people.

What&#8217;s happened since we last met? I grew another year older, turning 21, and was showered with wonderful presents, seemingly genuine affection, and Facebook notifications (with which I would&#8217;ve preferred to have been deluged).

Not to sound ungrateful, but my birthday also took a working day out of my week (well, most of a day, I got some writing done in Rhodes House before lunch), meaning that I was scrambling - and still am scrambling - to catch up. Even as I type this, the BBC&#8217;s version of Pericles, Prince of Tyre is playing in a small window. Pericles is currently engaging in an agonisingly slowly choreographed barn-dance with his future wife. It&#8217;s quite terrible, but it&#8217;s hard to find any performances of Pericles (probably for that exact reason).

I&#8217;ve also grown very attached to Starbucks. I realise that this is at odds with my desire to be niche, and I also realise that Starbucks is a company with, at best, an ethically dubious expansion history. But their deal - £1.55 filter coffee with refill for drink in customers - is too good to turn down. Chilling out with a cup of hot coffee, watching Pericles and blogging about my birthday: if that&#8217;s what 21 has in store for me, colour me excited. This is the sort of blissfully comfortable existence which, in a few short months time, I&#8217;m going to be eulogising.

Talking of eulogies, I&#8217;ve made the ill-defined and non-committed decision that this blog will conclude when I leave Oxford. It might seem obvious that a blog titled The Anglo-Saxon Diet would be confined to my full-time education experience, but I had actually assumed that I&#8217;d just bleed it into my professional life. Alas, I have decided that there are other things that I ought to be doing, come the summer, and this chronicle of my university experience will be left as a memorial to my three years in Oxford. 

So you might as well consider this the beginning of the end. This is, in effect, Episode One of Series Five of Breaking Bad, and &#8216;Felina&#8217; is waiting for us. I&#8217;ll do everything possible to try and avoid going out with a bang, but you never know. Sub-fusc and Shakespeare is an explosive combination.

What’s happened since we last met? I grew another year older, turning 21, and was showered with wonderful presents, seemingly genuine affection, and Facebook notifications (with which I would’ve preferred to have been deluged).

Not to sound ungrateful, but my birthday also took a working day out of my week (well, most of a day, I got some writing done in Rhodes House before lunch), meaning that I was scrambling - and still am scrambling - to catch up. Even as I type this, the BBC’s version of Pericles, Prince of Tyre is playing in a small window. Pericles is currently engaging in an agonisingly slowly choreographed barn-dance with his future wife. It’s quite terrible, but it’s hard to find any performances of Pericles (probably for that exact reason).

I’ve also grown very attached to Starbucks. I realise that this is at odds with my desire to be niche, and I also realise that Starbucks is a company with, at best, an ethically dubious expansion history. But their deal - £1.55 filter coffee with refill for drink in customers - is too good to turn down. Chilling out with a cup of hot coffee, watching Pericles and blogging about my birthday: if that’s what 21 has in store for me, colour me excited. This is the sort of blissfully comfortable existence which, in a few short months time, I’m going to be eulogising.

Talking of eulogies, I’ve made the ill-defined and non-committed decision that this blog will conclude when I leave Oxford. It might seem obvious that a blog titled The Anglo-Saxon Diet would be confined to my full-time education experience, but I had actually assumed that I’d just bleed it into my professional life. Alas, I have decided that there are other things that I ought to be doing, come the summer, and this chronicle of my university experience will be left as a memorial to my three years in Oxford.

So you might as well consider this the beginning of the end. This is, in effect, Episode One of Series Five of Breaking Bad, and ‘Felina’ is waiting for us. I’ll do everything possible to try and avoid going out with a bang, but you never know. Sub-fusc and Shakespeare is an explosive combination.

It&#8217;s almost 7pm on a Sunday evening and I&#8217;m looking at red carpet pictures from the SAG awards, rather than finishing my essay on The Winter&#8217;s Tale and The Tempest. I wonder how Amy Adams, Julia Roberts and Matthew McConaughey motivate themselves to dress all glamorous for these various different awards events, and then I remember that they are rewarded for their perseverance with all of King Midas&#8217;s gold, and Judas&#8217;s silver thrown in for good measure.

The Winter&#8217;s Tale is, in my opinion, not a very good play. It has a weird structure, weird characters, weird ending, and just generally sits uncomfortably with my perception of what a Shakespearean comedy should be. It&#8217;s oddly vicious in places (imprisoning wife for rumoured adultery, abandoning newborn child on exposed mountain, man getting eaten by bear) and then strangely jolly, with clowns, dancing and statues coming to life. In a nutshell, that&#8217;s my analysis of the play, although I have to write something more nuanced (and probably less accurate) for my essay.

I&#8217;ve only been back a week, but I&#8217;ve already forgotten what the vacation felt like. I was feeling a real, profound dread at the prospect of returning for this term - mainly because I don&#8217;t have any proper holiday time from now til the end of my degree, and after that comes real life - but I had to put my big boy pants on and stomach it. Now that I&#8217;m back, I&#8217;m fairly settled into my routine again, with the exception of generally feeling a little more harassed than is natural. My essays for this week (on Shakespeare and South African literature) are dripping from me with less urgency than in previous terms, which might be why I started to enjoy photos of the SAG awards instead.

But, before I know it, this whole log flume of an experience will be over. I&#8217;ll never again sit in this seat in Pembroke library, or feel the harsh glare of the fluorescent desk lamps. I&#8217;ll never stay up late on a Sunday night writing about &#8216;literature&#8217; and wondering when I can take a legitimate coffee break. I&#8217;ll never think about The Winter&#8217;s Tale again, except maybe to avoid seeing it in performance. I have affection for these sensations, much as I malign them, and the feeling of premature nostalgia is insidious and corrosive. Already, I have lamented &#8216;the end of my last proper 0th week&#8217; and &#8216;my final start-of-term drive&#8217;. By the end of this year I will scarcely be able to tread the streets of Oxford without remembering something that I have missed, or will miss.

But I&#8217;m not sure I&#8217;ll miss this library&#8217;s uniform Cambridge University Press editions of each of Shakespeare&#8217;s plays, which are uncomfortably large and don&#8217;t stay open without a blocking elbow. I take the rough with the smooth; the things I enjoy with the things I despise (or the things I like to whinge about). And, eventually, I shall be like Caliban, and cry out &#8216;You taught me language; and my profit on&#8217;t/ Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you/ For learning me your language!&#8217;

It’s almost 7pm on a Sunday evening and I’m looking at red carpet pictures from the SAG awards, rather than finishing my essay on The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest. I wonder how Amy Adams, Julia Roberts and Matthew McConaughey motivate themselves to dress all glamorous for these various different awards events, and then I remember that they are rewarded for their perseverance with all of King Midas’s gold, and Judas’s silver thrown in for good measure.

The Winter’s Tale is, in my opinion, not a very good play. It has a weird structure, weird characters, weird ending, and just generally sits uncomfortably with my perception of what a Shakespearean comedy should be. It’s oddly vicious in places (imprisoning wife for rumoured adultery, abandoning newborn child on exposed mountain, man getting eaten by bear) and then strangely jolly, with clowns, dancing and statues coming to life. In a nutshell, that’s my analysis of the play, although I have to write something more nuanced (and probably less accurate) for my essay.

I’ve only been back a week, but I’ve already forgotten what the vacation felt like. I was feeling a real, profound dread at the prospect of returning for this term - mainly because I don’t have any proper holiday time from now til the end of my degree, and after that comes real life - but I had to put my big boy pants on and stomach it. Now that I’m back, I’m fairly settled into my routine again, with the exception of generally feeling a little more harassed than is natural. My essays for this week (on Shakespeare and South African literature) are dripping from me with less urgency than in previous terms, which might be why I started to enjoy photos of the SAG awards instead.

But, before I know it, this whole log flume of an experience will be over. I’ll never again sit in this seat in Pembroke library, or feel the harsh glare of the fluorescent desk lamps. I’ll never stay up late on a Sunday night writing about ‘literature’ and wondering when I can take a legitimate coffee break. I’ll never think about The Winter’s Tale again, except maybe to avoid seeing it in performance. I have affection for these sensations, much as I malign them, and the feeling of premature nostalgia is insidious and corrosive. Already, I have lamented ‘the end of my last proper 0th week’ and ‘my final start-of-term drive’. By the end of this year I will scarcely be able to tread the streets of Oxford without remembering something that I have missed, or will miss.

But I’m not sure I’ll miss this library’s uniform Cambridge University Press editions of each of Shakespeare’s plays, which are uncomfortably large and don’t stay open without a blocking elbow. I take the rough with the smooth; the things I enjoy with the things I despise (or the things I like to whinge about). And, eventually, I shall be like Caliban, and cry out ‘You taught me language; and my profit on’t/ Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you/ For learning me your language!’

I just ate a fat wedge of cheesecake and am now feeling quite smug. Nothing gets me excited quite like a perfectly weighted - not too moussey, not too dense - slice of ambrosia, even though I&#8217;ve been sitting here for two hours and have only done a small amount of personal administration and exactly zero work.
The nights are drawing in. It&#8217;s dark outside and the superb public Christmas tree is enjoying the last few evenings of its fleeting existence. What will be the avant-garde Christmas tree next year? Who knows, but what we can be sure of, is that it would be terrible uncouth to use the same design twice. So what will come of this year&#8217;s soup du jour? I imagine that it&#8217;ll be compressed into a small metal cube, along with Fanta cans, broken spectacles, and the corpse of the Tin Man. Actually, wait, can you recycle metal?
Yesterday I finished reading Nadine Gordimer&#8217;s The Conservationist, which was brilliant except for the fact that I was never entirely sure who was speaking. I have now started to read André Brink&#8217;s A Dry White Season which is tremendously exciting, and reads more like a Chrichtonesque political thriller than a piece of anti-apartheid literature.
I actually once read a book by Michael Crichton, when I was quite young (about 11 or so). I remember that it was very long and that I felt a real sense of accomplishment at finishing it (so much so that I recommended it to my teachers, secretly thinking that it was too long for them THE FOOLS!). I also remember that it had a sex scene of some description which, at a time when Byker Grove was still forbidden fruit, was tremendously exciting to me. I&#8217;ve just Googled it and it&#8217;s called State of Fear- Wikipedia calls it a &#8216;techno-thriller&#8217; (whatever that means) and reminds me that the plot was about global warming (containing controversial conspiracy opinions). I think there was a giant rain machine or something, that was going to be used to make flash floods (topical).
Anyhow, my current reading is actually nothing like State of Fear. But it&#8217;s nice to remember a time when I was excited about being able to say that I&#8217;d read a 641 page book, rather than flicking through to the final page and desperately hoping that it&#8217;s lower that 350. A Dry White Season has 309 pages and so it gets the seal of approval from weary, Chrichtoned out Nick. That said, I do wish that more of my reading list was like State of Fear, where you always knew who was speaking, whether they were good or bad, and where the ending was a sly wink to the reader, rather than an ambiguous &#8216;fuck you&#8217;.
I can&#8217;t complain. At least I get more than a single advent to live out my charade of adult life. Poor old metal tree, I wonder if they&#8217;d let me buy it for a tenner?

I just ate a fat wedge of cheesecake and am now feeling quite smug. Nothing gets me excited quite like a perfectly weighted - not too moussey, not too dense - slice of ambrosia, even though I’ve been sitting here for two hours and have only done a small amount of personal administration and exactly zero work.

The nights are drawing in. It’s dark outside and the superb public Christmas tree is enjoying the last few evenings of its fleeting existence. What will be the avant-garde Christmas tree next year? Who knows, but what we can be sure of, is that it would be terrible uncouth to use the same design twice. So what will come of this year’s soup du jour? I imagine that it’ll be compressed into a small metal cube, along with Fanta cans, broken spectacles, and the corpse of the Tin Man. Actually, wait, can you recycle metal?

Yesterday I finished reading Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist, which was brilliant except for the fact that I was never entirely sure who was speaking. I have now started to read André Brink’s A Dry White Season which is tremendously exciting, and reads more like a Chrichtonesque political thriller than a piece of anti-apartheid literature.

I actually once read a book by Michael Crichton, when I was quite young (about 11 or so). I remember that it was very long and that I felt a real sense of accomplishment at finishing it (so much so that I recommended it to my teachers, secretly thinking that it was too long for them THE FOOLS!). I also remember that it had a sex scene of some description which, at a time when Byker Grove was still forbidden fruit, was tremendously exciting to me. I’ve just Googled it and it’s called State of Fear- Wikipedia calls it a ‘techno-thriller’ (whatever that means) and reminds me that the plot was about global warming (containing controversial conspiracy opinions). I think there was a giant rain machine or something, that was going to be used to make flash floods (topical).

Anyhow, my current reading is actually nothing like State of Fear. But it’s nice to remember a time when I was excited about being able to say that I’d read a 641 page book, rather than flicking through to the final page and desperately hoping that it’s lower that 350. A Dry White Season has 309 pages and so it gets the seal of approval from weary, Chrichtoned out Nick. That said, I do wish that more of my reading list was like State of Fear, where you always knew who was speaking, whether they were good or bad, and where the ending was a sly wink to the reader, rather than an ambiguous ‘fuck you’.

I can’t complain. At least I get more than a single advent to live out my charade of adult life. Poor old metal tree, I wonder if they’d let me buy it for a tenner?

New Year’s Resolutions

1) Use my phone less. I enjoy playing QuizUp on the loo, but I’d love to live in a world where I didn’t feel obligated to check it every time there’s a spare second. No-one ever texts me anyway.

2) Blog regularly until someone from the Daily Mail picks this up as an example of Oxbridge twattery. At that point I will commence a libel lawsuit and use the damages money to paint my blog over London using a skywriter.

3) Listen to Desert Island Discs every week. Not really a resolution, I just fucking love that show.

4) Graduate. Preferably with a 2:1, but finishing will be an accomplishment in itself, albeit a pathetic one.

5) Get a job. If you are reading this and you have the power to employ me, please do so. I am good at sitting in coffee shops, wearing sweaters and Classic Literature on QuizUp. I will not consider manual labour, anything demeaning, or any form of employment that falls outside of ambiguous creative media descriptions.

6) Do something really interesting that I’ve never done before. This is deliberately open ended because I don’t want to commit to something like skydiving or running a marathon. But I want to avoid a repeat of the colonoscopy highlight of 2012.

7) Wear ties more often. Coz I’m a grown-up now.

8) Appear on a quiz show. Now that my University Challenge dream has fluttered away, I’ll consider Pointless, Eggheads, Only Connect, Weakest Link or that one Jake Humphries hosts.

9) Renew my passport. It’s been almost a year since my passport expired. I wouldn’t bank on this one being completed before 2015.

10) Become a better conversationalist. Pipe dream, but would probably be socially advantageous to learn how to not zone out of conversations. I feel like I have potential to be quite engaging.

#HappyNewYear #Big2014ForNick

Goodbye, Old Dog

When I was six years old - emerging from a bizarre period of religious obedience, into an equally incomprehensible adult world - my parents bought a puppy for my sister.

He was a chocolate labrador, and when we went to visit his litter, he was the one slumped in the corner, wagging his tail and looking like a slug. The poor little puppy had such a ravenous appetite that, a few weeks old, he still couldn’t stand on his feet. He was just curled up in a little brown ball of fat, with that perpetual pendulum ticking away. Tick tock.

This morning - some 14 years later - I took him to the vet. He could no longer walk, such was the pain in his legs. We suspected this was a recurrence of the arthritis that had troubled him during his later years, but his condition had deteriorated so rapidly over the course of the last two weeks that we had grown increasingly concerned. Last night, his yelps of pain were so intense that I had to go down to the kitchen three times just to soothe him into being silent.

Walking into the vet with my lumbering leviathan, I was reminded of the puppy who couldn’t stand. His sister had been bouncing around in their play area, just like the show-off cat preening on the registration counter. My old dog, however, could hardly move and flopped himself down on the polyvinyl flooring. But still, like a snake, he followed his nose over to the bags of food that were on display; snuffle, snuffle. 

The arthritis was not just arthritis; it was an aggressive bone tumour and he had to be put down. They put down Christmas! They put down the Sunday roast! They put down the end of term, the cold of winter and the sun rising!

The fairy lights in the reception area were on a timed blinker. Red, yellow, green. Red, yellow, green. Red, yellow, green. Red, yellow- another Christmas has come around. Another December 25th is here, but he is not. Old dog, you’re better off.

He was a dog, who looked like a bear, sat like a lion, smelled like a pig, and ate like a hoover.

He had been there since I was 3 and a half feet tall. He was there before I knew the meaning of the word ‘pendulum’, and lived to see me use it on an almost daily basis. He was there in my kitchen, every day, defying the laws of probability by never smashing the glass cabinet with his propulsive, ever wagging, tail.

And I have a memory of him, which I’m not sure is even my own, walking through a door whilst my Mum panics about a ‘missing gateau’. And there he is, the eternal tail-wagging son-of-a-bitch, looking up with guilty, pleading eyes whilst his face is covered in unmistakable lumps of gateau. What honesty, from my Spartacus dog!

And that’s it. A permanent fixture for two thirds of my life has gone, leaving us all 35kg of love lighter.

Here&#8217;s a merry fucking Christmas story for you.
I&#8217;m back home now, after a seemingly endless term, and am sporting the remains of quite a tasty looking black eye. After my last post, where I described the gruelling coursework process that I was in the midst of, you&#8217;d be forgiven for assuming that the injury was sustained during the course of my full-throttle academic work. But, unfortunately, this early Christmas present had nothing to do with my Roth essay (which was submitted on time, in a beautifully carefree manner).
Our &#8216;student publication&#8217; Christmas dinner took place on the last night of term, and I went along to enjoy a curry (a slightly non-traditional Xmas meal) and unlimited free alcohol. Strangely, the latter element is more closely connected to the black eye than the former. After a really pleasant meal with a very nice collection of people, I decided to allow the red mist to utterly descend upon me. What exactly the provocation constituted, I cannot remember, but I decided to start a fist fight, on the street, with two passing (and, if my memory serves me, sober) strangers. Suffice it to say that, drunken mess (and pathetic weakling) that I was, I lost my fight. And, when I checked the next morning, I had a swollen black eye.
Did I learn anything from this misadventure? Yes, three things.
A) I am not a strong man, nor will I ever be. If this is my physical prime - as scientific textbooks assure me it is - then it is simply further evidence of the non-existence of any sort of God.
B) Some people are really lovely. The two men I attacked were incredibly sweet - after breaking my face - and gave their drunk assailant a hug and refused my offer to pay for his ripped t-shirt. In a city that gets a lot of negative press for its horrible students, these two guys were just really, really good.
C) I need to not take celebrities deaths so personally. Not for the first time, I felt the death of a famous person (in this case, 95-year-old Nelson Mandela) with a profound intensity that was only exacerbated by my blood alcohol levels. When Gary Speed died, I didn&#8217;t do anything for a week, and this is just not a productive way to live my life.
So now, after all that early Christmas cheer, I&#8217;m back at home. I&#8217;m tired, weary and, very literally, bruised. My oldest dog is on his last legs and I&#8217;m trying to nurse him through to Christmas, even though he seems to not have the strength or energy to stand anymore. But he&#8217;s been a fixture in my life since I was 6 years old and I&#8217;ll be damned if I&#8217;m gonna let him roll over and die. My penance for attacking those men on the street is to carry this fat old chocolate labrador out into the garden, so he can void his bladder. Ho ho ho.

Here’s a merry fucking Christmas story for you.

I’m back home now, after a seemingly endless term, and am sporting the remains of quite a tasty looking black eye. After my last post, where I described the gruelling coursework process that I was in the midst of, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the injury was sustained during the course of my full-throttle academic work. But, unfortunately, this early Christmas present had nothing to do with my Roth essay (which was submitted on time, in a beautifully carefree manner).

Our ‘student publication’ Christmas dinner took place on the last night of term, and I went along to enjoy a curry (a slightly non-traditional Xmas meal) and unlimited free alcohol. Strangely, the latter element is more closely connected to the black eye than the former. After a really pleasant meal with a very nice collection of people, I decided to allow the red mist to utterly descend upon me. What exactly the provocation constituted, I cannot remember, but I decided to start a fist fight, on the street, with two passing (and, if my memory serves me, sober) strangers. Suffice it to say that, drunken mess (and pathetic weakling) that I was, I lost my fight. And, when I checked the next morning, I had a swollen black eye.

Did I learn anything from this misadventure? Yes, three things.

A) I am not a strong man, nor will I ever be. If this is my physical prime - as scientific textbooks assure me it is - then it is simply further evidence of the non-existence of any sort of God.

B) Some people are really lovely. The two men I attacked were incredibly sweet - after breaking my face - and gave their drunk assailant a hug and refused my offer to pay for his ripped t-shirt. In a city that gets a lot of negative press for its horrible students, these two guys were just really, really good.

C) I need to not take celebrities deaths so personally. Not for the first time, I felt the death of a famous person (in this case, 95-year-old Nelson Mandela) with a profound intensity that was only exacerbated by my blood alcohol levels. When Gary Speed died, I didn’t do anything for a week, and this is just not a productive way to live my life.

So now, after all that early Christmas cheer, I’m back at home. I’m tired, weary and, very literally, bruised. My oldest dog is on his last legs and I’m trying to nurse him through to Christmas, even though he seems to not have the strength or energy to stand anymore. But he’s been a fixture in my life since I was 6 years old and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let him roll over and die. My penance for attacking those men on the street is to carry this fat old chocolate labrador out into the garden, so he can void his bladder. Ho ho ho.