A Bigger Letter from America

Yesterday another letter from America arrived, only this time it was bigger and heavier. It was the so-called Yearbook from camp. A glossy magazine/book thingy for free… something I can show around to people in the future, so it’s a nice souvenir. It’s weird that in a few days time it will be six months since I left for America. This year is rapidly fading away.

The past few days have been procrastination filled, so my skills in this field are now being enhanced immeasurably. New ways of killing the hours, including installing old games and then deciding that I actually don’t want to play them, and so uninstalling them, have become my forte.

Meanwhile, I haven’t taken a decision on the list of MPs I have been given. I think I have mentioned in the past that my course does an internship with an MP next year. Well, now I have been given a list of the prospective MPs, and I have to consider them carefully. There’s a good balance, so I need to decide whether to go for someone with an important job, but might not have much time for me, or go for a backbencher who I could be really involved with in their work. I don’t want to just do the photocopying or make the tea. But I obviously don’t want to discuss this one in too much depth lest I expose my identity to my future “employer”.

But I think I need to decide soon. We have a meeting on this tomorrow at Uni, which should be interesting. It might be good to find out who other people are considering. Then I’ll know if I’m going to be challenged on the ones I’m thinking about.

This raises an interesting point. Can I continue this blog from next September if it’s going to be about my life in Westminster? Might be a little difficult and a little sensitive… and it wouldn’t be interesting for me to write about my work and my MP and the goings on of the house without disclosing any of the names involved.

Hmm. But now, it is time for food. w00t.

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The Inevitable

And so the lull between essay submission and exams begins. Until December 7th, there are just two more hours of formal academic time left this semester. This is good. Sure, the exams are imminent, but I should be able to deal with them. They’re a little harder this year, but I have plenty of time to revise, plus the subjects I’m doing are a lot more interesting so a lot of the stuff has stuck first time around. Hopefully.

Meanwhile, I was visited by relatives from home on Tuesday. They know someone who is the father of one of the players at Hull City FC, apparently. So they had free tickets. I like football but haven’t been to a game in years because it’s so expensive. I couldn’t pass up free tickets. Plus, I was bored as hell on Tuesday night. It has been one of my goals to see a game at Hull, as their new stadium looks pretty impressive from the outside… so I took the opportunity.

Probably not one of the best games to see. 18,000 people in the ground, maybe a couple of hundred Southampton away fans, yet they made much more noise than the Hull crowd. In fact, the atmosphere was dead. Hull were rubbish, it has to be said, so there was little to sing about… and somehow they scraped a 1-1 draw. But in all the games I’ve been to in the past, the atmosphere was much better. My friend who came with me (who likes non-league football) blamed it on seating, because terraces have much more atmosphere, according to him. Hmmm.

On Wednesday, I had another driving lesson, which was fun. I got onto a main road, and used fourth gear for the first time. It all still seems so fast and I always think I’m going to lose control at 40mph… but I guess with time I should be able to realise that I’m not going to and all will be well. Still haven’t turned right yet, but that’s going to happen next time apparently. Things seem to be going pretty well, and the clutch is no longer evil. In fact, it is my Friend. I just need to move round the gears a little more. It’s probably not a good idea to come from 40mph to a stop in 4th gear unless it’s an emergency. “4 to 2!” shouts the instructor, as the car judders wildly and the gears take another pounding…

But sod all has happened today. Oh well.

Letter From America

… is the name of a classic song by The Proclaimers. It is also what happened today. A letter arived from beyond these not-so-hallowed shores.

Well, not quite a letter. More like a magazine, yet not on glossy paper. It is apparently put out every three months by the camp I worked at this summer, and this was the first edition since summer. So, there was much for them to describe. I skipped all the boring bits about the other parts of the camp I worked at and went straight to my unit.

Seems that all the counsellors got a mention. But I am happy to report that I got the biggest, and the first. Americans really seem to like people from England. I guess their country is just so huge that any kind of difference could be a welcome. But they reserve a special place for Englishness, for some reason. I’m sure I shattered all their illusions anyway, but they definitely liked me at my camp. Nice to know.

Anyway… the lack of updates around here lately is largely due to the fact that I have had my nose to the grindstone on my monster essays. But I am pleased to report that I have successfully both of them, all 3,000 words. And a week ahead of schedule too. This is a very good situation to be in.

So… this means I have a very light schedule now, until I have to start revising. My two exams are just two weeks away, but they are placed so well that I have lots of time after the first to revise for the second, meaning I don’t even have to consider that exam until the first is well out of the way. Excellent. This couldn’t have gone any better.

Meanwhile, my housemate who does the same course as me hasn’t even started either of his 3,000 word essays. He is stuffed. But this is nothing new.

Life is good. I’m really looking forward to getting this semester over with. Back home for a few weeks is sounding extremely good right now… especially considering the Age Old Problem of Cold that this house suffers from. No amount of radiators solve the issue, so we have to put lots of layers on. Bah.

Sluggish

Ever since I returned after the summer, this house has been having a small slug problem. I have no doubt it’s because of the damp that is starting to appear in the living room. But this isn’t my house, and the landlord doesn’t seem to care despite it being reported, so I will carry on living in pretty unhealthy conditions.

Now, in recent days there has been a new development in the peaceful co-existence of man and slug. Until now every few days there would be a lot of slug trails appear on the living room carpet overnight. This was annoying, but they would hoover up quite nicely, and as long as no one saw them, life was good.

But now they seem to have turned on me. In the past week, several Suicide Slugs seem to have appeared. I have no idea what is causing this, but now when I get up in the morning there are now exploded slugs in random locations. And no sooner do I clean them up – a vile business in itself that makes me sick – do more appear the next day. Indeed, one of them blew up underneath the freezer door the other day, which was a particularly nasty clean up job.

I am suspicious that my housemates have started attacking them with salt, but I have no idea if this would cause this weird effect. No one else would ever dream of clearing them up, and I can’t say it enthralls me… but if I didn’t move them we’d just have clutches of dead slugs all over the place. The rest of my housemates don’t seem to be very good at observation anyway, judging by the state of the kitchen right now. If I didn’t perform this kind of National Service for them they’d be happily walking through slugs and the squelch just wouldn’t register.

Anyway… life continues in its merry way. Over the past four days I have 95% completed one of my monster 3,000 word essays. I now have two weeks to do the other one. It’s been a hard few days with all the work, reading and thinking going on, but I feel pretty good that I’m ahead of the game right now. I just can’t let myself drop the ball. Like my housemate… the one who is having issues right now… he seems to have spent the last four days in a drunken stupour. I think I’m going to have to say something…

Tonight I have another driving lesson – my 5th Hour of Learning. Deep joy. I’m getting the hang of it now, which is pretty useful if I don’t want to have to spend an utter fortune on lessons…

The Early Bird

For some reason I was so tired last night that I just had to go to bed at around 10pm. As a result, I’m now awake at a much earlier time than normal. Funny thing is that getting up at 6am used to be the norm for me in the years gone by. Since this academic year started, 8:30am is my normal time because I’m going to bed after midnight. I don’t remember when I changed my sleeping pattern…

Maybe I was so tired yesterday because of my driving lesson yesterday. It was only on hour, but it occured to me during it that this was, in fact, quite stressful. I’m sure it’ll soon become second nature, but until I get the chance to keep practicing so that it does become natural, I will keep finding all these different maneouvers rather challenging. I can do them, sure, but my concentration is intense. I have another lesson today, and I hope it gets a little easier!

Another four day weekend begins for me, only this time I have no choice but to do a lot of work. I was hoping to have all four days clear so I had no excuse to procrastinate, but with the driving lesson today, and a meeting with a friend from home tonight, and then tomorrow I have to cut my hair again… oh, to lead such a busy life.

My target by Sunday is to have the shortest piece of work: 1,000 words completed. On top of that, I must either have got around half way on the first 3,000 word essay, or have done some research and took notes for my second 3,000 word essay.

Meanwhile, back at home, I discover that my family has just got a dog. I’m not a big fan of dogs. I don’t hate them, but I just find them annoying. I was concerned when I went home at the end of summer and there seemed to be a lot of talk about dogs from my brothers and sister. I could see my parents ready to crumble to the the incessant demands, even though they know they will end up looking after it when my brothers and sister get bored. Oh well. Suppose I should give them a chance to prove themselves!

I’m starting to miss my family. It’s been two months since I’ve seen any of them. Although it was longer than this over summer, I was doing something fun to distract myself. Uni is starting to bore the hell out of me and Christmas can’t come too soon. A break would be very nice indeed.

But it’s not too far away now…

Shaving Sorrows

I decided to use a new razor for the first time in months today. I only shave once every five or so days anyway, so I can make them last a while. But the old one was looking a bit blunt, so out came a new one.

Mistake. I don’t think I’ve ever cut myself in so many places. The whole of my chin and upper neck has small cuts all over it. And then I managed to nick a spot which is having trouble stopping bleeding.

November so far has been a little difficult. My housemate with girlfriend issues has slowly gone off the rails in the past week. The mind games increased to such a level that he decided to go to Glasgow to see her. Long distance relationships are expensive, I guess. This was a spur of the moment thing. He’d barely talked to anyone all week, and then he decided to piss off on Friday.

It would seem that it’s finally over, and he’s obviously heart broken by this. I’ve heard him sobbing uncontrollably down the phone to his parents… who then decided to come up for the weekend. It looks to me like he really doesn’t know what the point in life is without the person he’s loved for so long. Difficult. I don’t know what to say. The silences are awkward because he’s clearly thinking about the situation, but in the meantime it’s alienating the rest of us. I’m trying to support him but he doesn’t really like talking about it. He’s not a talkative person at the best of times.

Right now we have one guest in the house. Tomorrow, three more people will arrive, taking the total to 10, and there may even be another in the pipeline. The house is not big enough for this amount of people, especially as they’re all staying for a few days. It’s going to make things a little lively.

My next driving lesson is on Wednesday. Should be a useful distraction, although I need to crack on with my essays at some point this week. This semester is rapidly coming to a close… and that’s the scary part.

Momentum

The clutch is evil.

Things went better than I could have expected in my driving lesson. But the clutch is still evil.

I need to get in some practice before the next lesson so I don’t rush my foot off the clutch all the time. I’m sure I’ll get it soon, but the fact that I don’t have any way of practicing is rather annoying. My next lesson is next week, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d forgotten the lot by then.

But it was a lot of fun. Moving around at more than a walking pace off my own efforts was rather a shock. It surprised me just how fast 20mph felt. I managed to get the car up to third gear – gear changes were not actually that difficult for me – and I wanted to go a little faster but the speed limit of 20mph in the area I was practicing didn’t help.

I think everything else went well. I was able to stop the car well, and steering was pretty easy, although at first I nearly did run into a hedge on the side of a bend because I couldn’t quite judge the width of the car… My instructor claimed it’s going to end up around 40 lessons and beyond given the fact that I can’t practice here. But I should be able to get some practice in when I go home for Christmas. That will be fun.

I thought the biggest surprise was how lightly I needed to touch the accelerator for it to rev up like mad. Its sensitivity made it harder for me to find the biting point with the clutch. Maybe I was driving a finely tuned car. I dunno.

So here begins the long road to driving freedom.

In other news, I have started my research for my essays. And with four weeks to go. This is rather unusual…