Lost Marbles

I’m getting increasingly frustrated with myself these days because I’m noticing myself making a lot more errors than normal.

There’s something of a history of this in my family. My elder sister is notorious for losing her house keys. The same is also true of her mobile phone. It causes no end of grief when my sister gets back to her house after visiting my mum and dad’s house and realises she can’t get in.

Now, I’m not like that. I have never lost a key or a mobile phone. I seem to be always on the ball as far as these kind of things are concerned. This is good, because key loss for a student house results in £25 charges.

But I feel in recent years I’ve become more and more prone to making really silly mistakes. Mistakes caused by a fleeting lapse of attention-to-detail seem to be my speciality, especially when I allow a tiny distraction.

Yesterday we went for a curry takeaway. Good stuff, nice food. Only, because of my supreme idiocy, which came from absolutely nowhere, I overcharged myself by £2. This is 30% of the cost of the meal. I had studied the menu carefully. I had helped other people tot up their contribution. And then concluded without further ado that mine must have been about £8.50, so I was happy with £1.50 change.

Nope. Last night I thought carefully about it and looked at the menu. My meal cost no more than than £6.50. Idiot. But a nice cross-subsidy for my fellow housemates. I would have minded less had it gone in a tip, but no, it’s just been given directly to the person who made the payment on the night. Too late to ask for it back now.

Then yesterday I discovered that a form I’d filled in had been sent back to me. Why? Because I’d forgotten to fill in the box asking for “place of birth”. I know exactly why this happened. I left it blank to come back to it at the end (I never know whether to write the town of the hospital or just the whole city I’m from). And then I never filled it in. What’s worse is that I must have checked the form about four times to be certain I’d done everything, but when I put it in the envelope to send it off I just knew I’d made a mistake somewhere. So it didn’t surprise me at all.

A further incident yesterday was less crushing, but it still annoyed the hell out of me. I went to a friend’s yesterday to watch some football on telly, and because the game was at lunch time I brought along a packed lunch. It was like being in school again. I have the same thing for lunch every day. And yet… when I was packing the bag, I forgot to put in a bag of crisps. This despite the fact that it should have been automatic to me, not to mention me convincing myself that I’d already put the crisps in. I couldn’t believe it when I realised they weren’t there. Idiot.

On top of this are the normal collection of “don’t forget to do X!” comments I make to myself. The usual things are “don’t forget to post this letter”, “don’t forget to take a plastic shopping bag”, “don’t forget to tell Y about Z”… things that I tell myself to do endlessly, and then invariably don’t do. It’s starting to annoy the hell out of me, plus the fact that I beat myself up over it doesn’t help either.

It seems you can’t escape genetics. But who’d have thought there would be a gene for forgetfulness. My grandparents do it. My mum and dad do it. My siblings do it. I do it. My nephew does it.

Maybe I’m being ultra harsh. Maybe everyone does it!

I’m sure that’s true. But it’s no less frustrating.

Evolution still has a long way to go.

Too Much Cake

Happily, this week has been better than last. It’s gone fairly quickly, but that’s probably because I’ve tried to do some things to make it more enjoyable.

There is also another stroke of fortune in that there is something to watch on telly. I like snooker a lot, and at this time of year we get the privilege of two weeks of snooker genius. Since I don’t have much work to do, it’s been a very useful distraction. It also got me into the mood, so yesterday I actually arranged some sort of social life function with a couple of friends to go and play pool for a couple of hours.

Earlier in the week we had the joys of more US Presidential primaries. They didn’t quite go the way I wanted, but in some respects I’m enjoying them so I don’t want them to end just yet. Even though I don’t think it’s possible that Clinton can win now. I get the feeling that what we’re witnessing is a once in a lifetime US election. It’s a good time to be alive.

Meanwhile, closer to home, last night was the Question Time debate for London mayor. That election is next Thursday. If I was there I would vote for Ken Livingstone – I’m not quite sure what people see in Boris Johnson. I’ve never understood the Boris frenzy that seems to exist in some people. But I am almost certain that Boris will win. He didn’t do too badly in last night’s debate, and I think the polling leads he’s got are convincing. I hope I’m wrong. We’ll see.

And today… well, the wheels are falling off slightly. Last night my housemate baked a madeira cake… which was pretty good. But the problem was we started eating it at 10pm. And me, being a bit of a greedy bastard where cakes are concerned, went for the hat-trick and ate three slices.

I don’t feel too good this morning. I don’t know what else it could be. My stomach just feels full. Completely full. But I don’t feel like I’m going to be sick. I’m drinking water but it’s not making me feel any worse. This wouldn’t bother me too much except for the fact that in an hour’s time I’m supposed to be going to Leeds for the day to meet a friend and discuss the potential for a little work. Given that the last time we arranged to meet was cancelled at short notice through their fault, I’m not sure I could get away with abandoning it.

So this means I’m going to have to travel in this somewhat ill state. It’s still got an hour to wear off, but I’ve not had any breakfast yet because I can’t risk it. But I need breakfast. I can’t operate without it.

Lesson learned, I guess. Eyes bigger than my belly. I’m probably feeling the ill effects of masses of sugar. Because there was a lot in it…

Gonna have to risk it. Maybe it will be good to get out in some fresh air.

UPDATE: Friday was a bit of a waste of time, though the outcome is still up in the air. More in the future…

Waste Of Energy

The days tick by, slowly but surely, making me feel slightly less aggrieved as they disappear into history, forgotten and unloved.

I just wish it was a lot quicker. I’m so incredibly bored at the moment that I’m almost hoping to get some work. And no, revision does not count as work. I’d rather die than revise at the moment. That would only enhance the boredom still further.

There may be something on the horizon. A couple of weeks ago I said I was going to go to London with the goal of negotiating a couple of weeks work off a friend, but unfortunately this never transpired. But it may come next week instead with a meeting in Leeds. This could be ideally placed to give me a two week contract of work that will take me nicely up to exam time. Cos there’s still five weeks to go.

But until then I still piss about here trying to find something to do. On Wednesday me and a friend walked up to Beverley. He was hoping to find a new houseplant on one of the market stalls, since his last one died due to neglect. On the way up there we passed no fewer than three garden centres which would have been more than adequate to his needs. Instead we carried on walking. In truth, I didn’t mind. What else would I have been doing?

Then the problem. We arrived at about 3pm. No market. Well, there was one stall and it was selling fruit and veg. Not plants. So we’d walked 8 miles and for nothing. Great. Oh no, we did get something. Two bottles of water for £1 from Woolworths. Apparently the main market is on Saturdays. I do wish he’d done some proper research. Then again, his research did involve asking a fellow housemate who hails from Beverley – so you would have expected the answer to be reliable.

Maybe she just wanted to piss us off. Well, it didn’t quite work. I was briefly annoyed, and then realised I didn’t care. Annoyance is useless to me. I just want to do something to use up the last of my time here. Possibly the last vestiges of freedom before my life begins with Real Work. Not this so-called full time study. All I can say is I’m glad I didn’t have to pay any fees for this joke. I sympathise with all students under the new system. £3,000 for four hours tuition a week? Nice work if you can get it.

The worst is that, having dealt with the Happy Couple and their Friday night pissed-a-thons, I now have another housemate taking liberties. She’s got most of her friends sleeping in the living room as I type. Fuckers. She didn’t even ask if the rest of us were OK with this. You can be absolutely certain that if I ever had friends over I would check with other housemates if they’re OK with it. Nothing worse than having your own house invaded by people you don’t know and, to be quite frank, don’t care to know.

Sick of moaning. Sick of it all. Hurry up and end, please…

Snoozers

Declaration of interest: I am not a snoozer.

A snoozer is someone who, on hearing their alarm clock in the morning, presses the snooze button. Even once is too much as far as I’m concerned. I set my alarm clock for the exact time I want to get up. Why wake myself up earlier just so I can “snooze” for a bit longer? Why make myself late for the sake of lounging in bed for longer?

Unfortunately, however, my housemate who lives above me is a snoozer. If it was once, I could live with it. But I hear it at 8am every morning. Then again at 8:05, 8:10, 8:15, 8:20, 8:25…

Enough. Just get up already you lazy bastard.

The thing is, it’s not as if I’m full of the joys of spring at the moment. But I can still manage to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. The key is not to think about it. Hear ear splitting noise, jump out of bed. It’s become a reflex reaction to me. Bit of a problem when someone slams the front door coming back from a late night out though. Actually, I exaggerated that last bit.

But why am I not full of the joys of spring? Well, the weather is one for a start. Bad. Bleak. Cold. Yesterday I had the sheer misfortune to time both my journey into university and back again to co-incide perfectly with a torrential shower. I was not a happy bunny…

The thing is, I wouldn’t have been going into university at that time if it wasn’t for the fact that my lecturer/tutor has been taken ill, and has been replaced by another one, who couldn’t stick to the original timetable. Worse, the original lecturer was great; the new one is harsh and lacks social skills. I know because I had him last semester, and his exam – a clearer example of trying to catch students out I have never seen – was the worst I have ever done in my university career. So bad was it that it effectively finished off any chance I had of working hard for a first.

And you know what – it’s happening again. We were dropped hints yesterday that one of our exam questions would be on Gordon Brown. One small problem. One of the essays is on Gordon Brown. For years it has been a principle that you can’t be marked twice on the same material. Great for the people who’ve done the essay on Brown. Not so good for the rest of us who now have one extra topic to revise in the great gamble that is “which ones should I go for, which can I risk not revising?” that is the nature of exam systems.

But at the very least, there is just six weeks to go. I. Can’t. Wait. I’ve had it with university now. My other module has fast become a joke, meaning this semester is really dying out with a whimper. I have no idea how this final stretch is going to go. It’s all a bit sad really.

Of course, what I could do is cruise (snooze?) to the end. If I have a good dissertation and essays (I think yes to both) I’m almost guaranteed a 2:1. You know what, I’ll be delighted with that, and I can finally move on.

Bad Bananas

Since last summer I have largely been eating a healthier diet than I used to.

Well… sort of. The only difference has been that my traditionally crap diet has simply been added to with an apple and a banana each day, plus I now put some tomato and cucumber on my sandwiches that I make for lunch.

Not really revolutionary, but it probably takes me up to about three of the five a day I’m supposed to have. Better than nothing. I can’t say I feel any better for it, but maybe the difference will be in the long run. Or perhaps the apple every day will help ruin my teeth much sooner than they would naturally. Great.

But my big annoyance is with bananas, and the amazing variety of quality that you can get with them from week to week. Sometimes they can be green and refuse to turn yellow, sometimes they’ll start yellow and stay yellow, others they will be yellow one day and all brown the next, some will be soft, and once I had some truly disgusting ones which were hard and tough in the middle but soft on the edges. Made me feel ill.

The most interesting difference, however, is in how long they last after the day I buy them – and this variety seems to come from whether I buy them from a supermarket or from a fruit and veg shop. If I buy them from Tescos or Asda, despite a somewhat bumpy journey home, they are almost certain to last a good five or six days before they are quite brown (though still edible).

However, if I buy them from the fruit and veg shop, to reach the same level of brownness takes about two or three days.

There have always been suspicions, probably true, that supermarkets do something to make their fruit last longer. Irradiating fruit is supposed to extend the shelf life of products. The thing is, these are the exact same bananas from the same supplier (Chiquita) whether or not I buy from Tesco or from the fruit and veg shop. Even if they are roughly the same yellowness when I buy them, the fruit and veg ones go brown much sooner.

I could do with doing a proper test, side by side, to be certain of my conclusion, but I’m pretty sure of it now anyway. I’ve been observing this difference for many months now. If it’s not down to the irradiation, what else could it be? Both sets of bananas get to live in the exact same conditions in this house, on my window-ledge, so the conditions of the experiment are as controlled as they can be in such amateur science…

Perhaps another reason to be suspicious of big supermarkets? Well, I already am. But then again, I don’t do anything about it. See me with my Tesco clubcard? Proper hypocrite, me.

The Seven Week Slog

The news arrived yesterday that I’ve been waiting for for such a long time.

I have, at the final time of asking, had some good fortune with my exam dates. There was a possibility in the very worst case scenario that my last exam could be as late as 6th June, courtesy of the fact that we now start later in the year than we used to (although now back in line with other universities).

But this time my last exam is on the 22nd May. In other words, in seven weeks time the horror is all over. Seven weeks! I can’t believe it. This is excellent news. In recent days the atmosphere of the house has got so bad – the awkward silences, the constant attempts to avoid the Happy Couple – that I can’t wait for it to be all over.

To help me pass the time I have now decided to start work on my final essay. I’m quite proud of the fact that yesterday I put in an eight hour shift on the material I need to write it. It’s looking very good so far, I have to say. And 3,000 words ought to be a doddle when you’ve just finished a 12,000 word dissertation.

The exciting thing, if you can call it that, about my final essay is that it is somewhat more historical than all the other essays I’ve ever written. Normally the key to essay writing is to make sure you’re bang up to date with all the latest developments in the field. So the bibliography should contain a good mix of journal articles and books from recent years. This time, it is not so. This time, I am writing about a guy whose heyday was in the 1930s. I have managed to get hold of several pamphlets he wrote from way back then, and they really are quite fun things to read. Not dry and dusty like most books. These were the writings of a polemicist, not an academic.

And the nature of the essay suggests a chronological approach in the response. So I’ve taken notes and put a date on all the work I’ve got. Along with my little comments about structure, it should all come together quite nicely when I get the chance.

I’ve got four weeks to write this piece of work. I think I’m going to take this one at a leisurely pace because I know once it’s over I don’t have anything else left to do this semester apart from revise. Plus, I think I want it to be a very good piece of work too. I might as well end on a high. I could do with a final boost to put me over the finish line.

The dissertation has gone now. The seven week stroll to the end of my undergraduate career is now beginning. In all honesty, I hope it goes by quickly. What’s seven weeks between friends? I’ve been waiting for that moment for five years or more. Yes, I know I’m beginning to enter the big wide world, but I’m fed up with living here. I really think it’s important to get this kind of thing written down… because I know that in future and with the passage of time I’ll look back and think “how I regret wishing all that away”. But the evidence will be here that I didn’t enjoy the circumstances of living with certain people this year.

There’s still work to go, and the boredom of exam revision, but in the grand scheme of things it’s nothing. I feel genuinely happy and excited by life and the future for the first time in what seems like years. I hope this is just the beginning.

An Untold Tale

I noticed that in my last post I failed to mention the fact that on the Friday night there was a consternation in this house, caused by alcohol and late nights combined with noisy bastards who were in the living room, directly underneath my bedroom.

The disturbance pissed me off a hell of a lot. Since it wasn’t the first time it had happened (caused by the Happy Couple and their chums) I was left with little choice but to confront it head on. I got lots of apologies, and promises it won’t happen again. My main objection is they treat this house like it is their own. They always seem to forget that there are other people living here.

This Friday night has gone off much more quietly. However, downstairs in the living room remain two idiot friends, dossing. The room stinks of garlic, no doubt courtesy of take aways and the fact that there is no airflow in there due to a lack of windows. I still object to this. It’s my house too, and I want to be able to feel comfortable in it. I want to be able to walk from one part of the house to another without intervention or awkward eye contact with morons.

The silly thing is that the promise has already been broken. My housemate said the only people he’d invite round to sleep here now are two people I know (but still hate, yet he doesn’t know that). Yet downstairs one of them is someone I’ve never seen before. It seems they have different people here every week.

In any event, I was already pissed off with one half of the couple (the one who I have lived with before and until this year considered him a friend). We’d both agreed that we’d watch a DVD… since the only DVD player we have is his PS2, it is important that if we want to watch anything on the TV downstairs that we all agree. It was set for 8pm. Two episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm. His horrible girlfriend, and fellow housemate, would also watch. Fine. It might prove good at uniting the house again.

In the end, they got a better offer. I was waiting in the living room, having made my tea… and then at 8:15pm they left the house for their night out. Nice of them to tell me that they’d had other plans.

So that’s it. After this morning, I have nothing more to say to them.

God almighty. When will this boredom end? I can say there is three months left to go now – but that is until graduation. In fact, it’s much shorter than that in terms of time I must spend in this house. This is good. 9 weeks left, I think, is the more accurate count. I can’t wait.

Break: Prison

While it is essential that I note that this is my 300th blog post, I don’t feel I have anything particularly more interesting to write about it than that. So I move on…

The days are, mercifully, zooming by at the moment, aided by the discovery of a TV series that I think is one of the best I have seen in a very long time. A friend of mine has gone on about Prison Break so much that he convinced me to lend the DVD of season one he has. So I watched it.

After the first episode, I thought – very good. I really enjoyed it. Very strong acting, great direction, and a pretty decent premise. It’s a little hackneyed, but that doesn’t matter. In the genre we’re in, standard American-style drama, it ticks all the boxes. Stereotypical characters, check. A premise to tug a little on the heart-strings, check. A love interest or nine, check. A deadline, check. A conspiracy, check. Witty dialogue – “Feel free to drop it in my suggestion box” as he taps the toilet with his nightstick, check. And so on.

Sometimes a little escapism is what you need, if you’ll excuse the pun. Sometimes you just want to sit back and enjoy, knowing the pace of the show will keep you entertained. This is no thinking man’s TV. The only thought you need to do is to keep track of who’s friends with who, who betrayed who, and what’s in it for them.

So I watched the first episode, was stunned at the quality, and decided to watch the next. At the end of that, I wanted to know more. Going for the hat-trick… a third episode couldn’t hurt. At the end of that, I said “Meh, well what else am I going to do today?” – and finished it off in style with a fourth. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like that. Four episodes of a TV show back to back. Almost as long as Lord of the Rings.

I now have the second disc, and feel it is incumbent on me to watch some more today. The facts are simple. I’m not doing anything else. I have finished my dissertation and got it bound to stop myself thinking about it. I can’t make any further changes now. That’s good. I was getting fed up of worrying about it. It’s gone, and now I just need to hand it in next Monday.

I’m also not in University this week. My lecturers have called this a reading week because they’re all away at a conference. Despite the fact that we’ve just had three weeks off. Everything people say about students is true.

So it leaves me with very little to do. I have one essay left, that is due in five weeks today. So I’m not going to worry about that just yet. Next week I will start some work on it, probably finding the resources I’ll need. All I’m doing is trying to pass the time. And when I think about it, once I start working and Real Life begins, I will be desperate to have all this free time back. So I shouldn’t feel bad about using it to keep myself entertained with my hobbies. I genuinely can’t think what else I could do with it. Not now, anyway. Maybe at the start of the year if I’d realised this was going to be like this I could have found a small job to do.

This Thursday I’m off to London for the day. I have a discussion with a friend which could lead to a solution to the free time crisis. Fingers crossed…