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.

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?

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

Training

Yesterday I took the 6:24pm westbound District Line train from Victoria to Wimbledon Park. 

I was heading to dinner with some of my elderly Polish relatives, who live at the other end of the green stripe across London. Getting to their house required me to venture amidst the throng of tired commuters, coming in a thick stream from central London and filtering out to the burbs. Parsons Green, Putney, Southfields; the stream runs to a trickle.

I was wearing a pink gingham shirt and sweating out my own brand of claustrophobia. I felt like I was just another yuppie- albeit a jobless one- rolling my way back home.

But I’m not a yuppie (yet), and try as I may to dress up my trip as a commute, it was nothing of the sort. I was an imposter. Even men and women my own age appeared to be coming back from jobs, carrying satchels, pompously reading files, wearing lanyards.

I looked over at the man next to me, who was tapping away on an iPhone. He was, perhaps, late twenties. A man who had graduated from university six or seven years ago, and now found himself rattling along on the 6:24pm westbound District Line service to his Wimbledon flatshare.

He was wearing a starchy white shirt and grey trousers that had clearly been ironed in the last few days. He had a neat, short, trendless haircut, and wire rimmed reading glasses.

I looked down at his phone, in a really invasive way, and saw that he was Googling ‘Notting Hill carnival’. He then flicked through the map, looking for directions to Notting Hill.

And perhaps he goes home and pulls on a Rammstein t-shirt and smokes pot and watches Mike and Molly. And maybe, every so often, he meets up with his friends from university and they talk about European politics and have affairs with glamorous French tourists. And, perhaps, all that they want from their weekend is to drink rum and Ting from sippy-cups and buy sketchy looking jerk chicken from unlicensed vendors. 

But I’m sitting there on the train, listing to Tame Impala and wearing a pink gingham shirt, and I can only feel pity for the man next to me. Pity, and a lot of fear.

There’s something quite melancholy about the way he’s sitting on his commute back home, Googling something that typifies the wild, youthful spirit that you have to give up. Maybe that was him once, but now he’s a middling-aged man, in a stiff charcoal suit. Is he planning to try and recapture those past years? Or, is he just Googling it, wondering what it is, what all the fuss is about?

Now I don’t feel youthful, and I can’t think of anywhere worse for me than a carnival (remembering last year, queuing for 15 minutes to pay a quid to use the loo in Caffe Nero) but I do worry that I only have a year or so before I find myself becoming a regular user of this train service. I fear the day I have to get a season ticket on my Oyster card. I fear the day someone expects me to iron my trousers.

The man gets off the train. I stay on. Fuck, am I aboard a metaphor?

I spend the evening with my relatives who don’t even observe the rat race anymore. The end product of tie bars, iPhones and carnivals is just that: exemption.

Back on the train- heading eastbound now- the man isn’t there. There are only a gaggle of Spanish tourists, shouting at one another across the carriage. Perhaps the man is already asleep. In the three years since my sister left university, she has gone from staying up til 2am, to being in bed, asleep by 11pm.

And I’m just sweaty and listening to indie music and cultivating a beard that no one approves of. And I condescend the man on the train, just because he has to Google directions to Notting Hill? Just because he cannot follow the underground map that adorns every carriage? I will blink and be in the same position.

Or, perhaps, worse off. Either wear the suit or ride the bus. 

My latest sacrifice at the altar of productivity has been the time that I have dedicated to watching a TV show. It’s one of those TV shows that you are endlessly being recommended, where you feel like you’re outside the zeitgeist because you don’t get their references to ‘Heisenberg’ or ‘cooking’. It’s a TV show that is destructively addictive and available, in its entirety, on Netflix. It was a sad day indeed when I started watching Breaking Bad…
Last night (or should I say this morning?) I was up until 7am watching the show in bed. I had intended to just watch an episode- a sensible form of cultural rationing- but, as ever with these things, one turned out to not be enough. Nor did two. Nor did three. Instead, I watched four back-to-back episodes of Breaking Bad, knowing full well that it’d mean writing off most of my Monday to an indulgent lie-in. But what else could I do? I was so consumed by my curiosity about the twists and turns of Walt and Jesse’s story that I didn’t want to sleep. I didn’t want to eat. I just wanted to keep watching.
Now is probably the moment for me to make some grotesque ‘point’ about the way that narrative works in Breaking Bad, and TV shows in general, as opposed to literature. In my frenzy to avoid pretentiousness, I’m aligning my enjoyment of Breaking Bad with my enjoyment of things like a large Fanta at the cinema, or a Sainsbury’s meal deal and Gillette Soccer Saturday. But it’s been some time since I’ve experienced such rapt fascination with a story- in its most basic form. I read 50 pages of Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer earlier today, as a palate cleanser from all that crystal meth, and it’s brilliant and I accept that. But it has none of the mossless rolling ball momentum that Breaking Bad has in my mind. It is a static pleasure; the TV series is a compulsive one.
Anyhow, I ended up heading out to the coffee shop so that I could do some work in a place where I’d feel embarrassed to be witnessed watching Netflix. So far, so good, although writing this exuberant piece somewhat undermines my escapism. 
Still, it beats eBaying an RV and Googling ‘How to cook crystal meth’ guides. Oh, and shaving my head (or face).

My latest sacrifice at the altar of productivity has been the time that I have dedicated to watching a TV show. It’s one of those TV shows that you are endlessly being recommended, where you feel like you’re outside the zeitgeist because you don’t get their references to ‘Heisenberg’ or ‘cooking’. It’s a TV show that is destructively addictive and available, in its entirety, on Netflix. It was a sad day indeed when I started watching Breaking Bad

Last night (or should I say this morning?) I was up until 7am watching the show in bed. I had intended to just watch an episode- a sensible form of cultural rationing- but, as ever with these things, one turned out to not be enough. Nor did two. Nor did three. Instead, I watched four back-to-back episodes of Breaking Bad, knowing full well that it’d mean writing off most of my Monday to an indulgent lie-in. But what else could I do? I was so consumed by my curiosity about the twists and turns of Walt and Jesse’s story that I didn’t want to sleep. I didn’t want to eat. I just wanted to keep watching.

Now is probably the moment for me to make some grotesque ‘point’ about the way that narrative works in Breaking Bad, and TV shows in general, as opposed to literature. In my frenzy to avoid pretentiousness, I’m aligning my enjoyment of Breaking Bad with my enjoyment of things like a large Fanta at the cinema, or a Sainsbury’s meal deal and Gillette Soccer Saturday. But it’s been some time since I’ve experienced such rapt fascination with a story- in its most basic form. I read 50 pages of Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer earlier today, as a palate cleanser from all that crystal meth, and it’s brilliant and I accept that. But it has none of the mossless rolling ball momentum that Breaking Bad has in my mind. It is a static pleasure; the TV series is a compulsive one.

Anyhow, I ended up heading out to the coffee shop so that I could do some work in a place where I’d feel embarrassed to be witnessed watching Netflix. So far, so good, although writing this exuberant piece somewhat undermines my escapism. 

Still, it beats eBaying an RV and Googling ‘How to cook crystal meth’ guides. Oh, and shaving my head (or face).

I went for an MRI scan this morning. As preparation, they made me drink a litre (well, 900ml but a litre sounds more dramatic) of a solution that can only be described as tasting like the tingly metallic sensation of licking a battery, suspended in what may well have been sea water. I had an hour to get it down, which sounds like a long time but really isn’t when each baby-sip is making you wretch.
The MRI itself was enormous fun, it should be added- just like being in a futuristic sarcophagus made by Siemens. Shaped like the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, but fractionally more claustrophobic, I thought the MRI machine would play on all my entrapment fears, but really it was just 12 minutes spent listening to deafening clacking and whirring. I am feeling genuinely excited to see photographs from the scan; it’s like witnessing the cartographical birth of a previously-uncharted underwater nation.
But all this is getting away from the raison d’être of this blog, which is- or so I am told- my gripping study of all things literary. In recent ‘English Literature news’ I toyed with the idea of buying JK Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling but decided that, without a gift card, £14.99 is too much to spend on any hardback that isn’t The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Which isn’t to suggest that I have purchased the latter, just to try and imply that I have my priorities roughly in order so long as my head continues to dominate my heart.
Til then, I’ll continue pootling around the various things that I’m required to do in the next couple of months. Perhaps I dip a toe into Macbeth, perhaps I test the waters of Goodbye, Columbus. Or perhaps I succumb to mass market advertising and shell out the £14.99 required to distract myself from hard work for another few days.

I went for an MRI scan this morning. As preparation, they made me drink a litre (well, 900ml but a litre sounds more dramatic) of a solution that can only be described as tasting like the tingly metallic sensation of licking a battery, suspended in what may well have been sea water. I had an hour to get it down, which sounds like a long time but really isn’t when each baby-sip is making you wretch.

The MRI itself was enormous fun, it should be added- just like being in a futuristic sarcophagus made by Siemens. Shaped like the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, but fractionally more claustrophobic, I thought the MRI machine would play on all my entrapment fears, but really it was just 12 minutes spent listening to deafening clacking and whirring. I am feeling genuinely excited to see photographs from the scan; it’s like witnessing the cartographical birth of a previously-uncharted underwater nation.

But all this is getting away from the raison d’être of this blog, which is- or so I am told- my gripping study of all things literary. In recent ‘English Literature news’ I toyed with the idea of buying JK Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling but decided that, without a gift card, £14.99 is too much to spend on any hardback that isn’t The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Which isn’t to suggest that I have purchased the latter, just to try and imply that I have my priorities roughly in order so long as my head continues to dominate my heart.

Til then, I’ll continue pootling around the various things that I’m required to do in the next couple of months. Perhaps I dip a toe into Macbeth, perhaps I test the waters of Goodbye, Columbus. Or perhaps I succumb to mass market advertising and shell out the £14.99 required to distract myself from hard work for another few days.

Monday blogging is fast becoming a regular feature, so that y’all get the benefit of my sunny, post-weekend optimism. And I’m feeling positively sparkly today, after I spent the morning indulging myself by watching the Gwyneth Paltrow film version of Emma. Really dreamy stuff.
Whilst Netflix is an unorthodox start to a hard day of work (at least in Oxford, I can’t speak for elsewhere), it’s got me all set-up for a week of Jane Austen. When, a couple of months ago, I started my vacation reading by getting down with Sense and Sensibility, it was with this week in mind. Several weeks later, however, I had a momentary memory failure where I couldn’t even recall the name of the novel’s rake (Willoughby, fyi), which, once again, raises suspicions in my mind that vacation reading is just a ploy to force me to have to read everything twice. It’s a weird form of late 18th/early 19th century brainwashing that is making me very consciously aware of the fact that I have yet to find myself a suitable husband.
But, perhaps, just like Emma, I oughtn’t to be worrying myself about matchmaking right now. One year from today, I will be a day away from finishing my course. Whilst this is a profoundly scary thought for me, it can be nothing compared to that of the people who are actually doing their last exam tomorrow- the white carnation long disposed of, the pink carnation wilting, the red carnation sitting in a jar of water by the window… It’s almost too much to think about. I don’t want to be accused of whinging about having to read my £2 edition of Persuasion, whilst sweaty noses blot paper down in Examination Schools, so my concern, this week, is entirely for them. I raise my empty bottle of Coke to you.
But this has all dragged me away from Anne Elliot, Emma Woodhouse and Eleanor Dashwood for too long. I have a responsibility to defend the passivity of Austen’s earnest protagonists, so I’m not going to get bogged down in feeling sorry for finalists. The absence of finalists from the library has been a real blessing- it’s much quieter now, and I feel a smug sense of superiority at being the self-appointed King of the Library, way more life-experienced than all those frantic freshers who make up the rest of the EFL population (well, except for the creepy, obese DPhil student who often sits near me and pants). 
But, in this post-Netflix nightmare of a world, I need to get back to my reading. The remaining 100 pages of Persuasion aren’t going to read themselves, much as SparkNotes might suggest they could.

Monday blogging is fast becoming a regular feature, so that y’all get the benefit of my sunny, post-weekend optimism. And I’m feeling positively sparkly today, after I spent the morning indulging myself by watching the Gwyneth Paltrow film version of Emma. Really dreamy stuff.

Whilst Netflix is an unorthodox start to a hard day of work (at least in Oxford, I can’t speak for elsewhere), it’s got me all set-up for a week of Jane Austen. When, a couple of months ago, I started my vacation reading by getting down with Sense and Sensibility, it was with this week in mind. Several weeks later, however, I had a momentary memory failure where I couldn’t even recall the name of the novel’s rake (Willoughby, fyi), which, once again, raises suspicions in my mind that vacation reading is just a ploy to force me to have to read everything twice. It’s a weird form of late 18th/early 19th century brainwashing that is making me very consciously aware of the fact that I have yet to find myself a suitable husband.

But, perhaps, just like Emma, I oughtn’t to be worrying myself about matchmaking right now. One year from today, I will be a day away from finishing my course. Whilst this is a profoundly scary thought for me, it can be nothing compared to that of the people who are actually doing their last exam tomorrow- the white carnation long disposed of, the pink carnation wilting, the red carnation sitting in a jar of water by the window… It’s almost too much to think about. I don’t want to be accused of whinging about having to read my £2 edition of Persuasion, whilst sweaty noses blot paper down in Examination Schools, so my concern, this week, is entirely for them. I raise my empty bottle of Coke to you.

But this has all dragged me away from Anne Elliot, Emma Woodhouse and Eleanor Dashwood for too long. I have a responsibility to defend the passivity of Austen’s earnest protagonists, so I’m not going to get bogged down in feeling sorry for finalists. The absence of finalists from the library has been a real blessing- it’s much quieter now, and I feel a smug sense of superiority at being the self-appointed King of the Library, way more life-experienced than all those frantic freshers who make up the rest of the EFL population (well, except for the creepy, obese DPhil student who often sits near me and pants). 

But, in this post-Netflix nightmare of a world, I need to get back to my reading. The remaining 100 pages of Persuasion aren’t going to read themselves, much as SparkNotes might suggest they could.

I’ve actually been away from Oxford for a not inconsiderable amount of time now, so I suspect my lack of overall achievement should be starting to bother me. So far today, I’ve got myself a sandwich and had a bath. Both terrific successes, but even for the most slouchy of slouches, that’s a slow day.
It’s raining, which is as good an excuse as any for not going outside and frolicking with the street urchins. And, in a further fit of evading my real work, I bought myself the new(ish) Peter Carey book and have been slowly reading that (rather than Tom Jones, as I promised I would). None of this is terribly interesting news, but it’s fractionally more interesting than discussing my burgeoning preference for Cherry Coke over regular Coke, or the fact that I started breathing in time to the hammering from the construction site next door, and almost hyperventilated.
I’m told that, given it’s Friday evening, it’s practically the weekend, and my sister has certainly come home all excited for a couple of days off. In my mind, this just illustrates how mushy and amorphous the delineation of weekdays is for me. Even at university, I see very little practical differences between Tuesdays and Sundays- other than the fact the library is closed- so I’m used to just nodding and feigning interest when people tell me how excited they are about the weekend. If you’re excited about the weekend, good for you. You probably also notice Bank Holidays.
Anyhow, this is more of an update built out of the necessity of sustaining a regular format to this blog, rather than having any real news. If you’re interested to know how my reading of The Chemistry of Tears and Tom Jones goes, then I’ll update you in a few days time. And that’ll be pretty much it until we get to my incredibly insightful commentary about the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, that, in a mysteriously irreligious piece of planning, takes place on Easter Sunday. I’ve got a full week to prepare myself for overt partisanship in an event whose outcome I couldn’t give a thruppence of a shit about. Better get into training straight away…

I’ve actually been away from Oxford for a not inconsiderable amount of time now, so I suspect my lack of overall achievement should be starting to bother me. So far today, I’ve got myself a sandwich and had a bath. Both terrific successes, but even for the most slouchy of slouches, that’s a slow day.

It’s raining, which is as good an excuse as any for not going outside and frolicking with the street urchins. And, in a further fit of evading my real work, I bought myself the new(ish) Peter Carey book and have been slowly reading that (rather than Tom Jones, as I promised I would). None of this is terribly interesting news, but it’s fractionally more interesting than discussing my burgeoning preference for Cherry Coke over regular Coke, or the fact that I started breathing in time to the hammering from the construction site next door, and almost hyperventilated.

I’m told that, given it’s Friday evening, it’s practically the weekend, and my sister has certainly come home all excited for a couple of days off. In my mind, this just illustrates how mushy and amorphous the delineation of weekdays is for me. Even at university, I see very little practical differences between Tuesdays and Sundays- other than the fact the library is closed- so I’m used to just nodding and feigning interest when people tell me how excited they are about the weekend. If you’re excited about the weekend, good for you. You probably also notice Bank Holidays.

Anyhow, this is more of an update built out of the necessity of sustaining a regular format to this blog, rather than having any real news. If you’re interested to know how my reading of The Chemistry of Tears and Tom Jones goes, then I’ll update you in a few days time. And that’ll be pretty much it until we get to my incredibly insightful commentary about the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, that, in a mysteriously irreligious piece of planning, takes place on Easter Sunday. I’ve got a full week to prepare myself for overt partisanship in an event whose outcome I couldn’t give a thruppence of a shit about. Better get into training straight away…

I had almost forgotten the smell of the library. People have this romantic notion that libraries ought to smell like the leather binding on books, or the appealing mustiness of old pages, but the reality is that most libraries just reek of whatever detergent is used to clean the floor. The English Faculty Library smells more like Lynx than it does like the antique bookshops that archive hipsters’ minds.
This week marks the first time this term that I’m studying prose, rather than poetry. It’s a nice break and Robinson Crusoe is, at face value, quite a fun book (although, for us Huck Finn enthusiasts, it drags like a tug boat in treacle). It also means that there’s quite a lot of reading to do, for, however long The Dunciad may be, it can still be measured in number of lines, rather than number of pages. So, I didn’t go to the library yesterday, instead choosing to stay in my room, wrapped up in sheets that I somehow imagined would cure my throaty cough, alternating between reading the novel and listening to an audiobook version of it. It was a nice day, I got a coffee and I managed to read a staggering 88 pages.
Today I have confined myself to the library, which is packed full of equally stranded souls. Whilst Robinson Crusoe had the whole island to himself, I am forced to share this wasteland with other, equally poorly groomed, castaways. Like Crusoe I find myself clock-watching, trying to keep track of the passing minutes, hours, days… Like Crusoe I try and find order in the universe- where he uses God, I use the Dewey Decimal system. But I don’t even have a Man Friday to help me with my work (Disclaimer: I fundamentally oppose slavery). Instead, I slog on, in the same quietly vigilant fashion as Daniel Defoe’s protagonist.
On the plus side, ‘Defoe Week’ has given me a chance to revisit my favourite topic, colonial literature, and I’ve even got the copy of JM Coetzee’s Foe out beside me. It’s a book that tells the Robinson Crusoe story in a way that I find interesting and engaging, but, of course, I’m not allowed to study it. I’m just keeping it there to stimulate my general interest in this topic and provide a welcome relief from describing Robinson Crusoe as the ‘social and religious forerunner to the second wave of British Imperialism at the end of the 18th Century’.
Time will tell whether this argument is more convincing than my ‘Andrew Marvell is a transgender pedophile’ one, but I suspect it is. And, at the very least, I can tackle this novel knowing that I am simultaneously acting out a concise version of the marooned hero’s life. Albeit, mostly, without cannibalism, or sunlight.

I had almost forgotten the smell of the library. People have this romantic notion that libraries ought to smell like the leather binding on books, or the appealing mustiness of old pages, but the reality is that most libraries just reek of whatever detergent is used to clean the floor. The English Faculty Library smells more like Lynx than it does like the antique bookshops that archive hipsters’ minds.

This week marks the first time this term that I’m studying prose, rather than poetry. It’s a nice break and Robinson Crusoe is, at face value, quite a fun book (although, for us Huck Finn enthusiasts, it drags like a tug boat in treacle). It also means that there’s quite a lot of reading to do, for, however long The Dunciad may be, it can still be measured in number of lines, rather than number of pages. So, I didn’t go to the library yesterday, instead choosing to stay in my room, wrapped up in sheets that I somehow imagined would cure my throaty cough, alternating between reading the novel and listening to an audiobook version of it. It was a nice day, I got a coffee and I managed to read a staggering 88 pages.

Today I have confined myself to the library, which is packed full of equally stranded souls. Whilst Robinson Crusoe had the whole island to himself, I am forced to share this wasteland with other, equally poorly groomed, castaways. Like Crusoe I find myself clock-watching, trying to keep track of the passing minutes, hours, days… Like Crusoe I try and find order in the universe- where he uses God, I use the Dewey Decimal system. But I don’t even have a Man Friday to help me with my work (Disclaimer: I fundamentally oppose slavery). Instead, I slog on, in the same quietly vigilant fashion as Daniel Defoe’s protagonist.

On the plus side, ‘Defoe Week’ has given me a chance to revisit my favourite topic, colonial literature, and I’ve even got the copy of JM Coetzee’s Foe out beside me. It’s a book that tells the Robinson Crusoe story in a way that I find interesting and engaging, but, of course, I’m not allowed to study it. I’m just keeping it there to stimulate my general interest in this topic and provide a welcome relief from describing Robinson Crusoe as the ‘social and religious forerunner to the second wave of British Imperialism at the end of the 18th Century’.

Time will tell whether this argument is more convincing than my ‘Andrew Marvell is a transgender pedophile’ one, but I suspect it is. And, at the very least, I can tackle this novel knowing that I am simultaneously acting out a concise version of the marooned hero’s life. Albeit, mostly, without cannibalism, or sunlight.

I’ve managed to get almost nothing done today, because I’ve been in bed feeling pretty sorry for myself. The cause of my sorrow (or self-pity, more accurately) is a runny nose and a cough. First world problems, yes, but it really spoiled my chocolate pancakes this morning…
I have to do a Middle English commentary for tomorrow, which I attempted to do in a coffee shop packed out with Christian Union members who’d just come out of a ‘Born Loved’ talk. Even though I didn’t attend the talk, church or believe in any form of deity, it’s reassuring to know that there are still people for whom a ‘night out’ constitutes coffee and an ice cream. We might not agree on the big questions of existence, but the CU knows how to throw a ‘Nick party’. Still, I didn’t approach them, partly because I wanted to finish off my essay and partly because I was slightly afraid that my secularity might tarnish their innocence. When Dr Dre came on shuffle, I felt a little bit like E.T. in the ghost costume.
But, despite the fact that 80% of my body mass is currently mucus, I’m relatively content at the moment. I’ve been told that it’s making my blog posts boring (‘Stop writing about your boring fucking work…like anyone gives a shit about Anthony Mardell!’) but there’s not much complaining that I feel like doing. Sure, I’d like to be a few inches taller and maybe be able to grow a proper beard, but, perfecting my Hugh Jackman-like physique aside, I’m satisfied with my lot. Admittedly, my misanthropic tendencies set the bar pretty low, and I’m not sure what percentage of people would tolerate my general inability to exist beyond the confines of the faculty library and Pret, but that’s just me. 
Maybe the Christians are right and I was ‘Born Loved’ after all. Or, perhaps, this is all just a mirage, like the vision of a new Jerusalem in the commentary passage of Pearl that I’m studying this week. I guess that only time will tell…
In the meantime, here’s one last complain: there’s an undammable river of snot coming out of my nose and I don’t like it and I want it to stop and it’s not fair…etc.

I’ve managed to get almost nothing done today, because I’ve been in bed feeling pretty sorry for myself. The cause of my sorrow (or self-pity, more accurately) is a runny nose and a cough. First world problems, yes, but it really spoiled my chocolate pancakes this morning…

I have to do a Middle English commentary for tomorrow, which I attempted to do in a coffee shop packed out with Christian Union members who’d just come out of a ‘Born Loved’ talk. Even though I didn’t attend the talk, church or believe in any form of deity, it’s reassuring to know that there are still people for whom a ‘night out’ constitutes coffee and an ice cream. We might not agree on the big questions of existence, but the CU knows how to throw a ‘Nick party’. Still, I didn’t approach them, partly because I wanted to finish off my essay and partly because I was slightly afraid that my secularity might tarnish their innocence. When Dr Dre came on shuffle, I felt a little bit like E.T. in the ghost costume.

But, despite the fact that 80% of my body mass is currently mucus, I’m relatively content at the moment. I’ve been told that it’s making my blog posts boring (‘Stop writing about your boring fucking work…like anyone gives a shit about Anthony Mardell!’) but there’s not much complaining that I feel like doing. Sure, I’d like to be a few inches taller and maybe be able to grow a proper beard, but, perfecting my Hugh Jackman-like physique aside, I’m satisfied with my lot. Admittedly, my misanthropic tendencies set the bar pretty low, and I’m not sure what percentage of people would tolerate my general inability to exist beyond the confines of the faculty library and Pret, but that’s just me. 

Maybe the Christians are right and I was ‘Born Loved’ after all. Or, perhaps, this is all just a mirage, like the vision of a new Jerusalem in the commentary passage of Pearl that I’m studying this week. I guess that only time will tell…

In the meantime, here’s one last complain: there’s an undammable river of snot coming out of my nose and I don’t like it and I want it to stop and it’s not fair…etc.