And For My Final Trick

The trip back to Hull was not without incident. The odd thing was that the night before I had a dream that my train was cancelled… and the next morning I realised that of all the trips I have made backwards and forwards by train or by coach between home and Hull and home and London, nothing had ever gone wrong.

Notice the use of the past tense. Had. Unfortunately, for this final journey on my own, there was a problem. How annoying that it just had to happen to blemish what had been a perfect record. I was beginning to think that maybe our public transport network isn’t so bad after all, as I couldn’t think of any recent incidents of problems.

So I suppose it was inevitable when my first connection was delayed leading to me missing my second train. As I’d booked all the tickets in advance I had a seat reserved on the second train and I couldn’t, technically, travel on any other. But of course, if something goes wrong they’ll let you travel on a later one. How nice of them, since it was their fault you’re late in the first place.

But eventually I got back to the joys of an empty house. This was good. I hadn’t been looking forward to getting back because of returning to The Atmosphere in here, but since they are both away until the weekend it’s given me time to settle in ahead of their return. Good.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time pissing around with my dissertation again. The submission date is a week on Monday, and I have to get it bound before then. I was going to head the library to print it out today but the fact that the rain is incessant is stopping me from leaving the house. Which is annoying. By printing it out it will stop me from making any further changes. I doubt I’m likely to improve it now. It’s time to just get it out the way and move on.

Perhaps I could do it tomorrow or Sunday. The library is open. Plus, come Sunday, the clocks will have gone forward, giving me another precious hour of daylight. Then maybe I’ll feel happier. I might begin to feel that the summer is approaching.

I was even optimistic when I came back to Hull as I brought back the sun protecting chap stick I’ve had for a couple of years. When it gets warm, my lips start to crack terribly, which is painful. So I need it. But only if the sun shines…

Fingers crossed.

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Baked Board Games

In a rather disappointing twist, it seems that I’m going to have to make my own way to the train station tomorrow. Every time I go back from whence I came, I have had to get public transport. The reason being I’m normally going back to university (or, in the case of last year, to London) after everyone else at home has gone back to work. So there is no one around to give me a lift.

This time, by pure co-incidence, it seems I am going back to Hull when everyone is still on holiday back here. So I could have been given a lift to the station, saving me the nasty walks carrying a massively heavy bag of clothes.

Unfortunately, it isn’t going to happen. My mum and dad with two of my siblings are off to their caravan in Wales today instead. So, instead of having to say goodbye to them tomorrow, when I’m leaving again, it will be today.

Sort of to celebrate the end, though not intentionally, last night we all played a board game. The kind of thing no one does any more. We seem to have tonnes of board games, and people still seem to ask for them for Christmas, but we never get round to playing them. We put that right last night by playing Game of Life, probably one of the better board games out there.

On the front of the box it says “Average playing time: 45 minutes”. The six of us (and one of my brothers didn’t even play) managed to play it for 3 and a half hours. Though we did get interrupted by the usual Monday diet of soaps on TV. We did try to keep playing, but it was, inevitably, at a slower pace. And we also had to stop to eat the chocolate and banana bread I had baked.

I’m getting pretty good at this baking malarkey. Actually, that’s a lie. When you have a recipe and follow it it’s hard to get wrong. Oh, apart from the bit where I added the egg to the butter I’d just melted. Since the butter was still warm (I was supposed to leave it to cool) the egg started cooking. Mmm. Had to sieve the cooked white bits out.

The day before that I’d baked a carrot cake. Now that was good. Was better than the banana bread in fact. I’m not quite sure why I’ve decided to do this kind of thing now. Yet I won’t be doing it when I get back to Hull. I never get a chance to use the kitchen (it being in constant use between 4:30pm and 8:30pm) and, in any case, I’m not sure I want to share the fruits of my labour with them anyway.

But it’s something else I’ve decided I like to do as a hobby. Something else to while away the hours in future. It does take time, but it has been worth it. Just like playing a board game, in fact (tedious link, yes). Though normally a board game ends in tears as someone sees a conspiracy in the random throw of the dice. It’s normally my younger sister, and she always ends up blaming our Dad. It’s so predictable it’s funny. Though it didn’t happen last night.

Maybe we’re finally growing up.

Nesh

The work on this house to make another bedroom in the loft has begun. The knocking and banging is constant, as is the drilling and the sawing. The dog, naturally, hates all the noise, and the workmen, and feels that it has to bark at everyone and everything going on.

So this isn’t a pleasant place to be at the moment. The problem is, there is nowhere else I can be right now. The weather is appalling, rain, cold… so I’m stuck here. I haven’t heard from one of my friends here at home for ages; I was hoping to meet him to catch up with things during this break, but to no avail.

In some respects I’m starting to look forward to my return to Hull next week. I’ll be leaving all this noise for starters, and when I get back in June it will all be finished, which is nice.

But when oh when is the weather going to start improving? I think we’re being punished for the unseasonable warmth we saw in the middle of February. I have decided that I’m just a naturally cold kinda person. Maybe I’ve got poor circulation too, which doesn’t help. But I don’t seem to be able to stand the cold very well. This is a problem, being from the Norf of Britain. We hardly see the nicest weather. So I’m starting to think that if/when I actually get out of here and start my own life (looking increasingly distant) I need to move to a warmer climate. One which stays relatively mild in winter and has genuine warmth in the summer. Not the fake summers that we tend to get in the UK.

Of course, it’s not really that cold here. I’d know about it if I lived in Russia or Canada. Maybe I’m just weak. Perhaps I’m so thin and have so little hair (my preferred haircut is a number three shave) that it makes me feel colder all the time. We have a word for this kind of person in this part of the world. It features in the subject of this post. If you don’t believe me, ask Wikipedia.

I just want a glimpse that things are going to improve. That would make me feel better. It would make me know that it’s worth clinging on just a little longer as there will be nicer times just around the corner. But the forecast is not good. That’s depressing. I’m sick of wearing these old jumpers. They’re starting to look very shabby and they all need retiring. But I don’t have the money to do so right now. Ack.

I hate talking about the weather – it’s so boring and vapid. And yet I always seem to do it. I must be a good English person after all. We like this kind of thing.

The Good and the Not So Good

Yesterday was met with joyous celebration, as the one thing that we don’t normally expect on Sundays actually happened.

Yes, my brother’s football team actually won a game. They strained and struggled, but in the end they fought hard and managed to get the victory they so richly deserved after a season of battling through problems brought on by fickle players. They aren’t actually a bad side – the problem is that they’re not physically strong on the ball. If you are muscled off the ball, you don’t get a chance to showcase any of your skill. That’s what happens all the time. It’s also one of the reasons why the grassroots of English football is in dire straits, but I digress.

The win brought a smile to everyone’s face. It’s amazing just how much something like that can change your outlook on everything. That’s all we want, a win every now and then to give us something to fight for. We were considering packing it all in last week, but now everything has a different glow to it. On the flip side though, I don’t think you can possibly savour victory until you’ve tasted defeat. I don’t know how these teams that win every game easily keep up their interest. How tedious. And it doesn’t really teach anyone any lessons in life either.

The past few days, like all the others, have just flown by. I have another week left at home now. Disappointingly, there is still very little sign that the weather intends to improve any time soon. This means that I expect when I get back to Hull we will still have to be using the central heating. Expensive. But on the good side, there is now just one rent instalment left to pay. The end is now getting so close I can smell it.

And the end will be even closer once I get back and start knuckling down again. Coming home is a good way of killing off 20 days that would otherwise have been spent in Hull doing nothing, freezing cold.

But back to the mean business of today. My nephew is here, and I’m looking after him for today. Not that he needs much looking after. If I left him to himself he would sit on a combination of the PC, the Nintendo DS and the XBox 360 all day. I’ve just said to him that we should go to the shops to buy his mum an Easter egg for this weekend, but, unfortunately, my modest proposal does not compare with the glorious computer devices, and so I have been rejected.

Such is the modern age. But then I’m sure when I was his age I did exactly the same. The circle of life ventures ever slowly forward.

Status Check

It only seems like five minutes ago since I got back to my real home but it was in fact a week ago. It’s really strange. It doesn’t feel like that much has been going on to me but nevertheless the time has flown by, so much so that my thoughts are already beginning to turn to life back in Hull. Urgh.

Though I will restrain that Urgh, because I know that when I get back I know I have no more than 11 more weeks left to spend in that place. Everything is going to come to a head fairly rapidly. Though it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll have enormous amounts of work to do. I have one essay to write in four weeks, no problem, and then it’s just a case of two exams to deal with and all their accompanying revision. Exams are never easy, and I think I need to revise harder than ever for them, but with a bit of luck we might get a hint as to what topics to revise…

So it’s nice to know the end is close. In effect, there really is just one final push to finish this bloody thing off. I can’t wait.

Back here at home there is much planning to be done. My parents have said that because this house is too full, and with me going to live with them for the next year (at least! bloody house prices) they are going to invest in getting the loft converted into a new room for me. While this is cool it does make me feel guilty. They’re going to spend a hell of a lot of money on me at a time when money is tight. But I kind of get the feeling from my mum and dad that they don’t want any of us to leave. They know we’re all getting older now, my youngest sibling is 13, and in 10 years time none of us will be here. But at the same time they seem to be clinging on for dear life to preserve the family integrity. That’s not to say they would stop anyone leaving (after all, my elder sister moved out almost 8 years ago), but they seem to be want to cling to their youthful connections.

It’s all a big change from years ago. The home-owning culture of Britain is dying on its arse courtesy of massive house prices. My generation is growing up taking longer than ever to leave home for good. I’m concerned I could be here for a while longer yet. At the very least until I have a job and can afford to either rent or meet a mortgage payment of many hundreds of pounds a month. Add in all the other costs of living and it’s not an encouraging equation. It’s no wonder times are changing. The odd thing is that it might end up bringing families and societies back together at a time when there is all talk of the destruction of both of these things. Perhaps the market is going to provide the solution after all!! Now that would be the ultimate of ironies.

We’re entering into a great period of uncertainty in the world. I genuinely don’t know whether my plans for life are going to be a disaster. Am I heading into a profession that is overworked, underpaid and with too many people already in it? The answer to all three is probably yes. But it still seems like the right thing to do at this moment in time. If I didn’t have this I would have no focus to my life and no idea where I’m headed. I think I could do without that.

In the meantime though, I still have two weeks rest to enjoy. Right now my focus has to be on the short term rather than the long. There’s a hell of a lot I can achieve over the next few months, and I need to make sure I do it – otherwise it might make any plans for the long term completely irrelevant.

Half Time

Today I have a few hours of lectures, an important meeting and then I’m off home this evening. A few weeks ago I booked my train tickets to head back to focus my mind on getting my work done before the date arrived…

And so it has come to pass. I believe my dissertation is finished. I’ve spent an enormous length of time writing and revising it, and that’s obviously not including the fact that I started the research on it last year. All I’ve got left to do is to proof read it (again), print it, get it bound and hand it in on the fateful day of April 7th.

On top of that I’ve also written and finished one of my essays. So when I come back, all I have to do is one more essay (in four weeks) and then it’s six weeks until the exams – though knowing my luck they will fall awkwardly again.

It will be a relief to get out of here for a few weeks. The atmosphere in this house has been very awkward lately. The Happy Couple are taking the piss lately with the amount of times they invite friends over for drinks. They’re acting as if they own the house. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and now some days through the week, the same old people come round, some of whom are pretty annoying individuals. As my bedroom is above the living room I hear all the noise until the wee small hours…

I genuinely don’t have anything to say to them as a couple any more. In any case, I’ve never got on with the girlfriend, and ever since The Birthday Party the house has had a different vibe. One I don’t enjoy and am looking forward to ending come June. Until then, I have to be grateful for the small mercy of getting out of here and spending a few weeks with my family.

The other good thing is that when I come back we will hopefully be starting to see the first tentative signs that the weather is warming up, and the clocks will go forward – summer approaches. This will mean less central heating, thus cheaper bills. I can’t wait.

Of course, this break will fly by as usual, and my brain will start to pretend that “it’s so far away it’s never going to happen!”. I like those self-delusions. But soon I will be back here churning out mind-numbingly boring blog posts and essays. I can’t wait.

So we’re sort of at half time in this semester. Though there are more weeks in the second half than the first, I think in terms of workload (one dissertation plus one essay plus one tutorial presentation vs one essay plus two exams) that is about the half way point.

Can I say it yet? Yes, I can. Four months to go.

Talking Politics

If there’s one thing I regret at the moment it’s not getting fully involved with the student union politics scene. As a student of politics it would be a good place to test my knowledge out. But I’ve never been interested in it. It’s always been petty, parochial and somewhat tedious.

I still hold these views, but they have been modified slightly. On Thursday night I attended the results night, the culmination of all the campaigns that have been going on lately. The battle to be student union President next year is always very intense. There are other posts up for election too, but they get sidetracked to a certain degree.

My regret stems from the fact that one of my coursemates, who I have a lot of respect for, has actually just gone and won this election. I voted for her, but I didn’t get as involved in the campaign as I should have done. They did a great job leafleting, knocking on doors and rallying the troops. Pretty impressive when the target audience is a bunch of apathetic students.

I think of it as a missed opportunity. It’s nice to be on the winning side for a change, but still, the only contribution I made of note was on the results night itself, when I pulled out all the stops with my pencil and paper to show everyone that, by the nuances of the alternative vote system, once she was ahead in the first round and started gaining traction in the coming rounds, she was almost unstoppable. All around me they were nervous… and of course, you never know in elections, but my theory was that students rather randomly distribute their lower preferences, and so there was going to be no shifting her when that theory of mine was confirmed.

I like to think I helped bring a degree of logic to the proceedings… they were panicking that there was a strong anti vote just waiting to be dispatched when one of their rival candidates was eliminated. But it never happened. All along I kept showing them to stay calm and she’s in with a good shout. Sure enough it happened, and we celebrated. What a result.

It would have been nice to have been more involved. I could have helped them out and I would have felt a real sense of achievement. As it was, I felt like a Johnny-come-lately to the party. Cribbing off someone else’s good work. Though I have known the next Union President for three and a half years now, I still feel like it could be seen that I was jumping on the bandwagon.

Plus, it would have given me something to do. Though, by all accounts, maybe that mightn’t have been a good thing. I understand that most people doing the campaigning have been putting all their work on hold for weeks now. And for some of them, including the new President, that might be a very bad thing. It could well be Desmonds and Vordermans all round. Not a nice reward.

So there’s a tinge of regret. I could have been more involved, I know I would have enjoyed it, and it would’ve made the final victory even sweeter. I still hold that it’s not exactly a productive arena for politics, with a turnout of around 9% of the students… but we all have to start somewhere.

I just hope she knows what she’s letting herself in for. Talk about back-biting…