Below are the 22 most recent journal entries.
Fun with driving
I drove back to Leamington today, to pick up a bookcase from Argos (since they weren't in stock here in Stratford). On the way back I got to quite a busy crossroads with traffic lights on it, and was pleased to see they were on green. I was also slightly surprised to see a car go across the junction. Then another, and another. In fact, traffic was flowing freely in the direction that should have been on red. Due to some strange and highly dangerous glitch the traffic lights were showing green in both directions! People going across the junction didn't really have any way of knowing this so just carried on driving. Eventually someone realised what was wrong and let me cross his path - only to be beeped by the guy behind him, who wasn't aware of what was going on.
A highly unnerving experience.
Another academic year over, and a fine time to start this old thing going again. I'll be leaving this place (Leamington) in a few days to spend the summer at Mum's (which is now in Stratford). I managed to get a first again this year, but by not nearly as great a margin as I did in the first year (1st year ~87%, 2nd year ~75%), and I almost failed one of my modules :S. It looks like I'm going to have to actually start working next year, though the second year is supposed to be the hardest (due to the sheer quantity of material we covered). Given that I can apparently do Mathematics and Physics, I intend to spend this summer trying to find out what I can't do - I hope to fail. I will be exploring various literary and musical pursuits, hopefully at least some of them will be fruitful.
How are you all? Hope everyone's well, and anyone else getting results got what they wanted.
- Signing off (but not for long).
I 0wn eBay.
If only I actually did own eBay, I would be very rich indeed. However I did do a nice bit of trading. I bought a huge Dreamcast lot on a £40.00 starting bid with £2 delivery, sold all the stuff I didn't want for £39, and kept a load of stuff that would have cost around £35 individually.
I'm revising now for the four Physics modules I have examined after Easter, because I found out on Saturday that Dan had done a fair bit of revision and I got worried... I'm doing a past paper now and it doesn't seem *too* bad.
OE and IE are both making my computer lock up (OE more so) and I don't know why! So it's Opera for now I guess...
Just searching users by interest for 'Warwick uni' and 'Warwick university' looking for fellow students and trying to leave out-of-the-blue hello messages that don't make me sound like some sort of stalker, I'd say more but I quite like the idea of getting an entire post in one very long sentence and I also think it's time to go to bed as I need to get up early tomorrow.
Ow! My wrist....
There's an attention grabbing subject line for you. The actual cause of my discomfort is a particularly ambitious project on my guitar - an eight-finger tapping arrangement of Flight of the Bumblebee. I've been working on it for about a month since I finished the arrangement and have been practicing all afternoon but still can't quite get it right.
I knew I'd forgotten something. You might remember that two of my friends from school (Dan and Warren) we're with me on my course at Warwick. After our exam on the first day back, I realized I had yet to see Warren, I asked Dan about it and he hadn't seen him either. Each of us had thought Warren had been sitting near the other (as we were in quite different places in the hall - Warren was actually supposed to be sitting near Dan). Worrying that he might have missed the exam, I texted Warren to see if he was all right, and if he had actually been there. I got a reply saying he hated the course, had dropped out and wasn't coming back! This obviously came as a bit of a surprise as he hadn't said anything to me or Dan over the holidays (I suppose because each time I saw him it was with a lot of other people and he didn't want to 'announce' it). Dan thought I was joking when I told him and was pretty annoyed about the whole thing, I think because he felt we all found the course hard and we were 'in it together'. Warren is re-applying to universities closer to home next year.
... Eight weeks on
I have been inspired to post again thanks to around a dozen replies to my own comment on the first post due to it being linked to from news. If I ever catch up with myself it will make this a lot easier, I just have so much to write each time I come to update it makes it quite off putting. The matter is not as bad this time though due to a relatively uneventful period since the last post due to a phenomena I was previously unaware but which is apparently quite widely known as 'second term syndrome'.
That's not to say nothing has happened, in fact there are more than enough events worthy of mention to keep me typing for a while.
First things first, the rather nasty exam I had on the first day back went reasonably well. I raced through Foundations (note: doing an exam fast is not necessarily a good thing) then tackled Analysis very competently I thought until the final question where I was stumped for quite some time. I eventually managed to prove the thing I was trying to through only the very slightest of dodgy steps but since the question said 'show that' rather than 'prove that' I felt it was acceptable. Evidently it was as I received a very acceptable 91% for the Analysis exam, but my marks were not entirely unrelated to the time spent on each section as for Foundations I got a perfectly respectable but not-as-good-as-it-should-have been (by which I mean not as good as most of my friends, who are generally pretty clever) 76%.
That nastiness out of the way brings me to the much more protracted background unpleasantness of the Accommodation Situation - which I can assure you is more than horrible enough to merit that capitalization. The problem is that we have to sort out who we want to live with after only knowing each other for only ten weeks. Between the two corridors there are many social circles all interlinked in a convoluted many leading you to decide you either want to live with two other people or with twenty as the inclusion of one person leads to the inclusion of another etc... I won't go into the gory details because frankly I don't want to relive them, but after many meetings and conversations in which people disagreed about what was said in other meetings, got angry or offended or upset we ended up with two groups of seven. Pleased to find any solution that no-one was unhappy with (not that everyone was entirely happy with it, but that would have been impossible) we neglected the minor detail that we would now be competing in a fairly limited market for houses of the same size. There are very few seven bedroom student houses in the Coventry-Leamington area. However (and once again I won't bore you with the details), after just missing out on a couple of nice places, going to look at some not-so-nice places, and doing actually surprising little work - a perfect house dropped into our lap. One of our group had subscribed to an estate agent's mailing list and a house appeared which we reserved (after much panicking and a poorly constructed web site leading us to believe for about an hour that we'd lost the opportunity to reserve the house).
I cannot explain to you how good this house is, and unfortunately the photos cannot do it justice but it is amazing. It's recently renovated (the kitchen is better than mine at home!) and we'll be the first students to occupy it. Unfortunately photos don't do the inside justice (all the rooms look small and dark), but I do have some good ones of the outside (one here). The only drawback of the house (apart from a lengthy bus ride into uni) is that, as with many student homes, one of the rooms is significantly smaller than the others. It is not an unreasonably tiny box-room and is in fact perfectly acceptable but all the other rooms are much bigger. We'll either be offering to reduce the rent (to be absorbed by the other six occupants) until someone is tempted to take it or drawing lots :-S, but we have yet to tackle this potentially sticky situation.
Oh, the other group of seven ended up having to split up into two houses and are living in Coventry, 10 miles from us. On the plus side another group of our friends (four people who decided to live together very early on thus saving themselves a whole lot of hassle) are living about a minute and a half's walk down the road from us.
The only other things that spring to mind to mention (and I know I'm forgetting some stuff) are table football and eBay.
I briefly mentioned our football table last term, and how it was in need of repair. After buying new rods for it, it became something of a full time hobby for myself and Phil this term. We also joined the Warwick Table Football Society (which only came into existence last term) and after much more practice (sometimes at stupid hours of the morning when we should have been sleeping or at least working) we entered the society's doubles tournament which sponsored by the unimaginatively (or maybe just pretentiously) named 'the bar' in which it took place had a grand prize of a PlayStation 2. Fully intending to sell the PS2 on eBay to fund the purchase of a 'proper' football table of our own and not even slightly expecting to win it we amazed ourselves (and indeed, others) by raising our game immensely in the semi-final to beat the team of our resident table football expert (a post grad from Oxford, where there is a huge table football 'scene'). Fate only carried us so far that day though as we finally bowed out after a nail-biting final which came down to an intense decider game (it was best of five). Nevertheless, we we're very proud of how we did and as we lifted our somewhat random runners-up prize of an large pink box of a pink vodka drink.
Oh, one final thing, by a slightly bewildering series of events I am now secretary of the Table Football Society, and Phil is the new Events Co-ordinator.
So eBay then. Thanks to the wondrous tool we are now the proud owners of this football table. Well nearly, purchasign it without thinking how we we're going to get it down to us, it has reached as far as Liverpool where my sister (who was kind enough to take delivery of it) lives. It is apparently larger than she imagined (or rather - than I let on) and she is saying we may have to hire a van to get it as far as Warwick.
My love affair with eBay goes further though, I am now the proud owner of a Dreamcast and am building what I believe to be the ultimate collection of games for this console. I also have quite an industry going being charged with the task of emptying our loft, as well as selling a lot of my own stuff I don't want/need anymore. (Please feel free to see my eBay auction history, my userID is at the top of the page for the football table linked to above).
Ah, one other thing to mention. I took part in setting the record for the world's largest pillow fight... twice. As well as being thoroughly good fun (and thoroughly good excercise) it also turned out to be a patriotic act. Our impressive total 967 smashed the existing record by a few hundred, though some posh private-college in America spent $1700 (ours cost 15 quid) to edge ahead of us. We got them back though, reaching an amazing 1308. Duke are now well out of the running (we simply outnumber them student-wise) though if other universities join the competition we could be in trouble (if the Manchester unis get involved we're in trouble). Note: Pillow fighting is great fun but being hit in the face or other vital areas is not - both of these happened to me a few times but not enough to dampen my enthusiasm for what I confidently predict will be the sport of choice in the new century!
On that note of foolishness I leave you for hopefully a much shorter time than the last break.
Before I embark on the events of this term I thought I'd go through a bit of information on more day-to-day general stuff about my uni life.
There are over a hundred rooms in my block, so I couldn't possibly get to know all of them during one term. Most of the people I see regularly and go out with are on my corridor (kitchen 5) or the one around the corner from me (kitchen 4). Most late night silliness (including 'Cabbage catch' and 2AM fry-ups) takes case in Kitchen 4, though I have spent many a night sitting in one or other of the rooms on corridor 5 talking. Any of the rock or indie music nights, I tend to go to with people off kitchen 4. Kitchen five (my own kitchen) are perhaps a slightly quieter lot (with exception of some of the girls who are distinctly loud) but this has not stopped some good nights out (at our union's cheese night Top Banana) and a couple of kitchen parties. Then there are people off my course, of other corridors in my hall and a few other random people. I'll do my best to give some idea of who each person is when I first mention them.
Warwick is a campus university which you would think meant I didn't have to do much walking, but last term this assumption would have been wrong. Warwick actually consists of three campuses (campi?) and until the completion of the new maths/stats building on Main Campus at Christmas, getting to maths lectures entailed a 10-15 minute walk up a hill to the Gibbet Hill Campus. Since some of our maths lectures went on until six last term, coming home in the dark and the wind and the rain was not fun.
As well as the new maths/stats building, Main campus also has the enourmous sciences building (the building being enourmous, not necessarily the science) and huge library, the Arts Centre (where we saw Dave Gorman's Googlewhack adventure last term - which was absolutely brilliant), the Union (a building of terribly confusing architecture which though I now know how to find my way around inside, I have no clue how the interior geometry relates to the outside of the building), Rootes social (including a large bar with lots of tables to do work at during the day, and a restaurant which is becoming a favourite place to get breakfast at *after* the morning's lectures). In the opposite direction to Gibbet hill off main campus lies Varsity (the nearest non-uni place to go, a club or chain pub depending at what time of day you go) and further on the Westwood Campus (where there is another sports centre and more accommodation - meaning some students used to have to do Westwood to Gibbet Hill for nine in the morning). Then of course, there are Coventry and Leamington Spa. Coventry, as I'm sure many of you know was bombed rather a lot during the war. However, this gave the surviving people of Coventry the opportunity to rebuild the city during the 50s and 60s as a modern, stylish place. Thus the decision was made (or so it appears, from walking around the place) to use 'this wonderful new material called concrete' which - as everyone who lives near any mid 20th-century building know - looks completely shitty after about five years of weathering. To be fair to the place, it has a pretty good range of shops and a very nice new shiny shopping centre, plus a good cinema and a few decent night clubs. Leamington I haven't really explored much but apparently has a
fair few shops and some nice pubs (and is where I'm living next year - see next post).
As I said before, my work consists largely of lectures and other timetabled sessions. This varies between 14 and 25 hours a week during the first two terms, the vast majority of which I attend (with the exception of Examples Classes and my Mechanics A lectures - which I missed because the lecturer was useless and I'd already done most of the material at A-level). I have a worksheet each week for each module and most of these are marked by either a supervisor (for maths) or an examples class tutor (for physics). We have contact time with both of these people (groups of 3-5 with supervisors and of about 20 with examples class tutors) but I never go to examples classes as they only help you with the work you've already done and physics is generally pretty easy (I've only got less than 7/10 once - 70% being the boundary for a first). Foundations last term was assessed by fortnightly multiple choice tests which were *not* easy. Evil questions and negative marking for wrong answers made them pretty daunting (a lot of people got 0 or 3 out of 25 at least once), I managed to get on top of them eventually, averaging 80% (mercifully they ignore your worst test when taking this average). We also have a tutorial once a week (with a member of staff from the physics department). These are in groups of four or five and get given fairly difficult maths worksheets from time to time (these generally cover maths we need for our physics course but haven't yet covered in our maths course).
This is so great it deserves a section of its own. I imagine anyone reading this knows what Direct Connect is but if not click here. Its essentially a set of programs allowing anyone with a decent computer to run their own P2P file sharing and chat server. Warwick (unofficially, and run by a few students somewhere) has one of these servers (Warwick Underground), which means as we are all on 100Mb network can download files at over 10MB/s. This means it's possible to get a film in about a minute and a half. Since almost everyone uses the client program DC++ to connect to the server, the file-sharing network itself is commonly referred to on campus as simply 'DC++'. The other great thing about this is that there are a few people on the network who download new episodes of the Simpsons, ER, Friends etc... as they appear on American TV. What this means is that we can watch episodes from season 3 of 24 the *day after* they are shown on Fox (they will not appear on terrestrial for at least 18 months). So now not only do a group of us sit and watch the new episode in my room every Wednesday, but I am also burning each episode onto CD and sending it to Joe - one of my friends at the University of Wales, Bangor.
On arriving home, the first thing my mum said to me (after 'Hello' etc...) was 'God you look thin'. This worried me slightly so I went and weighed myself - was 9st11! This is not good for someone who's about 5'11" and supopsedly healthy. Don't tell mum but my weight actually dropped a little further before finally stablising towards the end of the holidays (I'm back over ten stone now). The holidays were for the most part pretty uneventful. This was partially because most of friends from school didn't get back from uni until two weeks after me, although this didn't particularly bother me as I spent most of the first two weeks sleeping.
The first time I saw everyone again was at our 'Celebration of Achievement Evening' or awards evening, or speech day (or whatever you called it at your school/college). I did a bit of catching up but didn't really get the chance to properly talk to anyone. I also won a slightly embarrasing five awards, which considering there were only 20-30 of them for the entire year group was quite a lot. I got one for every subjext plus an award for the Rock 'n' Pop and other things. I was proud mainly of beating my older sister who scooped an otherwise unmatched four awards at her Sixth for awards evening a few years ago. As each award also contained £20 in WHSmith vouchers this led to some enthusiastic CD and DVD shopping after Christmas (although thatnks to Smith's useless restocking policy I still have £30 worth of the things left over).
The following weekend the last of my friends from other unis arrived back proper (some ahd come back for the day for the awards evening). I went to Pizza Hut with a few of them and we caught up a bit on each other's lives, I also attempted to eat an entire large deep pan pepperoni feast which to my surprise defeated me by a fraction of a slice - I must be losing my appetite in my old age.
Christmas itself was a bit different this year, but we had a nice day anyway. We went out for Christmas dinner (and the fodo was really good). Amongst my presents was this, ordered all the way from America and - I'm sure you will agree - is the coolest T-shirt (if not the coolest thing) in the world.
After some hectic and drawn out organisation a group of us managed to go karting between Christmas and New Year, and I achieved something for once getting third place. New Year itself, a few of us spent over at a friends house. After failing to order pizza we drove around until we found the only open food outlet, which happened to be an Indian, and all bought stupidly hot curries which I have to say although I struggled with mine a bit, my friends all handled theirs very disappointingly, leaving a large amount untouched. We also, almost missed new years, looking at the clock and seeing it was around midnight already, and switching on the TV to see Big Ben finishing chiming.
Having woken up on Wednesday (New Years Eve) panicking slightly at having done no revision for my big scary maths exam on the first day back, the end of the holidays was spent frantically working through past papers. To find out how the exam actually went, tune in next post...
I bet you weren't expecting to hear form me, were you?
But my aim to try and have at least some documentation of my life continues. Now it appears that I ahve not updated since the day before I came to uni. So this post also gives me a nice opportunity to remenisce about way back then...
I arrive (first of course - apart from overseas students) to Jack Martin four (this photo is actually of JM2, but the building is identical). And my room number? - 123, nice and easy to remember. I only briefly saw the rooms on my open day, which was a long time ago even then, but I was pleasantly surprised. Its nicer than any stuent accomodation I've seen elsewhere (apart from Cambridge, but then they have no ensuite). So I unpack my stuff, say goodbye to Mum and Alys and si around at my computer. I have a little welcome pack including various information, a Boost Gourana, a Razor and a condom (all of which disappeared at some point during term one and I have no idea where to). I figure the thing to do is talk to people but there's no-one around yet, I say hello to a girl in the kitchen who's moving in but she goes off to unpack, so I sit in my room, having propped my door open with a lever arch file, waiting for more people to turn up. During this time I set up my computer and connect to the fastest internet connection I have ever seen (my dowload speeds are now only limited by the server I'm downloading from). After a while a girl called Cat, from upstairs appears a my door (who I've hardly spoken to since week one, but I do now know a Kat - I'm pointing this out now to avoid confusion). She was doing the same thing as me but got bored of just sitting waiting for someone to turn up so went exploring. We had a look down my corridor and met Trish, who lives at the end of my corridor. So my first actually conversation with anyone a uni was with these two in our kitchen. We decided to get more people out of their rooms (the doros in Jack Martin swing shut unless you prop them open) so went down our corridor knocking on all the doors, then down the next corridor, then the other corridor on our floor, then downstairs... By the time we'd returned red-knuckled to our kitchen (Kitchen 5) we had gathered almost everyone who had arrived so far to Jack Martin 4. So the rest of the day consisted of sitting around n our kitchen talking, and then going on a 'bar tour' of the union which started at some ridiculously early time like half six, so by midnight it felt incredibly late. I ended up playing pool two post-grad philosiphy students and talking about Tom Lehrer. Anyway, thus begun...
Which consisted largely of getting to know people and exploring the university. And of course, the rather evilly placed maths exam on the very first wednesday. I passed two out of four sections (and *just* failed the other two), which was pretty good going compared to most people (only a handful passed all four, and a retook and passed the other two later). My course began, including the subject Foundations which scared the shit out of everyone and made four people from Maths/Phys switch to straight physics in the first week (I was coping pretty well with it by the end of term fortunately). Fresher's fortnight included in the first week the Fresher's ball featuring Wheatus and the Bootleg Beatles. Wheatus were fun from the front row (wasn't desperately impressed with their new stuff though) and it was great to see the Bootleg Beatles. It was a really good night. Fresher's fortnight ended with a fancy dress party. standing in Coventry at 3 in the afternoon with no clue what to go as, one of us (it might have been me, I can't remember) suggested going as the guys from the 118 adverts. A few hours and some rather hastily thrown together costumes later this emerged from my room (that's Rob on the left and Phil in the middle - we're in one of the Rootes kitchens - see below). Now the party wasn't great but we didn't particularly notice. running across campus shuoting "Got your number" to strangers was great fun, as was being complete exhibitionists at the party, doind a lap of the room (whilst carrying Phil) on entry, some rather odd 118 stretching infront of an audience of everyone on the dancefloor, and running aronud Rootes bar downstairs from the party in front of loads of third/fourth years at the request of our Hall's Tutor and Subwarden (who were manning the door at the party). It must have been the adrenaline or something, because dressed in shorts and a vest we didn't feel the cold even though it was freezing that night. We also invaded one of the Rootes residences, visting every kitchen and entertaining/confusing people before returning to our halls and waking up the guy in room 118, who happens to be a Malasian guy called Niz who pratically never leaves his room to an almost hermit-like extent. We ended up in one of the Arthur Vick (the very nicest residences) common rooms for a few hours. The cold must have had some effect on me though as I felt distinctly grotty for most of the next week.
The rest of term
Much more going out, much more work (though not all that much, as most of my course consists of lectures, so when I'm at home I have relatively little to do, no essays). The best night following Freshers Fortnight had to be Crash, the rock/indie night which consisted of about three hours solid of air guitar and insane leaping, leaving me aching a bit the next day but was enormous fun. Work consisted of more Scary Maths, which I've become much better at dealing with and some not-quite-so-scary physics. Due in part to an excellent relativity lecturer (called Mark Newton, funnily enough) who made the entire thing seem rather straightforward (we also derived e=mc² - which was nice).
Our best night in had to be Kat and James' party, it was the first birthday since we got to uni, and there happened to be two of them, either side of a weekend - so we threw a joint party. Also, as James was away for the weekend, I thought it would be funny to fill his bathroom with balloons (its hard to see from the photo, but it did look very impressive at the time).
Amongst other things, we bought a table football table, football, table... Which has been great fun but has taken a bit of a battering and is now falling a part. Then there was.
The last week
A few of us went out on Sunday and saw British Sea Power, who do the the most amazing live set I've ever seen, which involved a large selection of flora, a giant bear and some highly adventurous scaling of the speakers and lighting rig by one band member, plus a great rock ending. We got back to annother party being held in our kitchen, and a few of us decided to go to the wood to cut down a Christmas tree, at about three in the morning. This quest was hampered somewhat by it being completely the wrong kind of wood (in that it holds no Christmas trees), a fact embarrasingly obvious in the light of day. On the way back from our fruitless adventure, we met a guy sitting on his own on a bench in the middle of the night. Surprisingly, he was quite normal and we spoke to him for ages. We've seen him whilst out a couple of times since, and it has to be one of the oddest ways any of us have made friends with someone. All this led to me getting only three hours sleep on Sunday night, but this sort of thing happens a lot at uni. However I also only got four hours sleep on Tuesday night. Then on Wednesday night two things happened. Ed's unnerving skill at table football made him impossible to beat when we first bought the thing, Phil beat him once leading to me calling him the People's Champion. This saga went on for the rest of term resulting in a show down between the people, led by the People's Champion (who at the time was - by an elaborate points system - myself) and the Evil Tyrant - Ed, in a kind of 'survival mode' series of games. There was entrance music for each person, and for some of us even costumes. Playing went on late into the night, and culminated with a final and suitably dramatic victory for Ed. Here most people went to bed. But Phil and I had something much more important to do...
The Banner, and the reason I'm an idiot
In week 9 (of 10) phil and I had rigged up a string-cup phone between our two rooms (the hall is in a kind of L-shape - see above). I had come up with the brilliant (or so it seemed at the time) idea of hanging a huge MERRY CHRISTMAS banner on this string. We figured out how we were going too make it and after a long and emotionally crippling scouring of the campus for very large paper (after some bastard bought the last A1 flip chart pad from the shop) we were ready to begin construction. I had already begun to draw out huge letters in pencil on big A2 sheets from a sketch pad bought at the nearby shopping centre (we were putting two sheets together for each letter) and I continued as Phil began the outlining and colouring in. Thinking it wouldn't take us long, we began in high spirits. The first problem came as one of the huge red markers we had bought to colour in the letters began to rn out ofter half an 'M'. So it came to be that we recieved strange looks fromt he woman on the Checkout at Tesco, buying four packets of crayons at three in the morning. Undaunted (or rather, we'd spent such a ridiculous amount of time and effort we had to finish the job now) we carried on wih our colouring in. Unwittingly we'd bought glittery crayons, which are very poor foor colouring in even small areas as the glitter tends to build up at the surface of the crayon and prevent any wax from coming into contact with the paper. It was with some self loathing (and not without an unpleasantly strong animosity towards each other brewing) that we laboured on into the early hours of the morning. Our letters complete, we rushed through our weatherproofing (wrapping them in cling film) to meet our 7-in the morning deadline of putting the banner up (so it just mysteriously appeared in the night, and people woke up to see it). With something of a sense of achievement, our creation was complete. Of course, I had now slept for only 7 hours over three days and had trouble staying awake during my Electricty and Magnetism lecture (mercifully my only lecture that day, since Wednesday afternoons are kept free by most universities), falling asleep at least once and producing some almost comically incoherent lectures. However, every time I watched someone see the banner and smile, it made it all worthwhile. A slight crimp was put on the whole thing by the Warden of the entire of Jack Martin deciding he didn't like it and telling us to take it down. Our Sub-Warden and Tutor happened to love the banner though, and let us keep it up until just before the Warden got back in the late-afternoon. The lack of sleep eventually caught up with me and I decided to power-nap before our Christmas dinner which our two kitchens had collabarated on. Waking up thoroughly disorientaded and - remarkably - having slept through my loud, grating alarm for about an hour. I eventually figured out what time it was and realized I'd neglected my vital duty of boiling the peas. Fortunately someone else had filled in for me, and I took the task of music instead, making a rather good Christmas compilation CD. The dinner coincided with someone's birthday, and one groups secret santa present-giving (something our corridor failed to organize until *after* Christmas). So it was another late night (boy I did a lot of sleeping in the first few weeks of the Christmas holiday).
As well as first to arrive on my corridor, I was also last to leave (partially due to not doing enough of my packing beforehand) and had a look round a spookily empty Jack Martin 4 before my sister Mary brought me home.
That will do for now I think, I'm sure I've missed loads out (nicluding many people I haven't mentioned at all) but I still have work to write up for tomorrow. What I've done over Christmas and during the first four weeks of this term should ot be quite such a lengthy post, and it should follow in the next few days.
Happy New Year, by the way.
My computer will be going in the car tomorrow and I'm driving down to Warwick Uni on Saturday morning, so don't expect to hear from me for a while. I'll try to post something next week.
One of the things I neglected to mention is that we have a new cat, who my sister has named Lady Glencora, much to our embarrassment when friends ask what our cat's called. We've started to let her outside this week now she's got used to her new home. She's been desperate to get out (and managed a few death-defying escapes) and is now enjoying running around the garden chasing butterflies, which is much more picturesque and charming than when she manages to catch them, as she tends to deposit them on the kitchen floor.
I'm back on msn messenger now, harry_msn (at) electricweb.org.uk. I also upgraded to Windows XP yesterday as well (I was fed up of unstable '95 variants) althogh I'm not being a complete Microsoft lackey, I bought the OEM version, which is identical to the full one but with smaller packadging and less than half the price. Also, although I never intended to take my TV to university, I m now very tempted by the Game Boy Advance TV Tuner just to catch the odd programme. The price plummeted when Nintendo brought out the Advance SP and I wouldn't need to buy my own licence either (truly portable tuners, those which contain their own power source, can be covered by you're licence back home).
I've only not been posting because not much has been happening. Most of my friends have gone to university this weekend. Obviously some aren't going, and a few went last week or go next week - like me. I'm sure I've mentioned that I happen to be going to Warwick to do the same course as two of my friends from school, Dan and Warren. We did manage to get into different halls of residence though, although Warren's is quite close to mine (and Dan did apply to the smae one as me, but Warwick lost his application and he ended up in Westwood- the catered halls off th main campus). So we won't be like Joe and Richard who are both going to Bangor and have rooms on the same floor of the same hall (five doors from each other!) as well as having bought identical laptops and a couple of very similar T-shirts to each other (much to Richard's annoyance, as he keeps reminding Joe they must say they 'went to the same school' rather than 'went to school together' because it 'sounds less gay'). That said, Dan and I have exactly the same model of guitar so I'm in no place to poke fun.
I bought all my kitchen stuff from Woolies in Wolverhampton yesterday (apart from a knife, for some reason there had been a rush on knives and they were out of stock, which is a bit worrying, but since there was no bloodbath after the Wolves got thrashed 5-0 at home yesterday, I'll assume they are not in the hand sof those who'd misuse them). I'm a bit worried about fitting everything in our car, its a Fiat Punto which may be the biggest of the small cars, but that still make it a small car. I think we'll just about squeeze everything in (along with my sister, who want's to come down when I go) and hopefully it won't come to having to pack some items *inside* my computer case.
I got a letter from Warwick on Saturday telling me I got into my first choice for accommodation - Jack Martin. I also got a quite scary letter this morning which had lots of pretty hard questions attached covering various A-Level techniques, which we will be tested on them in our first week of term. If we don't get 80% (the boundary for an A at A-level) we have to keep taking the tests until we do. This shouldn't be a problem, but is still a bit daunting. The envelope also contained the notes for the first two lectures of the course, the opening lecture is on the differences between A-level and university Maths and is simultaneously interesting/worrying.
Time flies, doesn't it? Well, let's recap.
Last time I posted I was about to go to V2003, the line-up was good this year:
For the benefit of anyone who isn't familiar with festivals like these, the set up at V was something like this:
There is a main stage which is BIG (and had two huge LED screens either side of it so people can see from a distance). There is also a second stage at V (branded the NME stage), both of these plus various 'arenas' (big tents for other acts), bars, food outlets, other stalls, masses of portaloos, and a fun fair are inside a huge fence enclosing the 'arena'. Outside it are the campsites, car parks, a few merchandise stalls, the place where you exchange your tickets for a wristband to allow you access for the whole weekend, a 'ladies only' toilet block (sponsored by Kotex - go figure) and a portable police station.
We went to Joe's house and his dad gave us a lift as far as the edge of the huge traffic congestion that springs up around these events and we walked the rest of the way, it took about as long to get to the gates as it took to get from them to the arena (past several car parks and camp sites). Eventually reaching the arena (a band was on stage, I cant' remember who and I let Richard take my running order on the Sunday, but from the distance we were at, the singer on the big screens looked like Paul Merton), we took a while to find the wristband exchange, at one point almost joining the queue for the 'ladies toilet' (see above) until Richard pointed out there were a lot of women in the queue and we realized where it lead. After actually getting our wristbands we joined the big queue just to get into the arena, which is there so they can search people for naughty things that aren't allowed in. Towards the front of this queue, we discovered that this included cans, which Joe and Richard had six of in Joe's bag. We left the queue and tried to figure out what to do. Reluctant to waste their beer Joe and Richard each drank a can, then in desperation Joe hid the rest in the roots of a big tree and covered it up with loads of mowed grass, ignoring my and Richard's argument that it was quite likely that one of the 70 000 people there might find it.
When we finally got inside we saw Inspiral Carpets (who were looking a bit middle aged, especially the lead singer, but were quite good) and Skin (the Skunk Anansie woman), we wandered off to get some lunch after that, keeping an ear on Morcheeba who were on next. I later had my first portaloo experience, which was not nearly as bad as I though it might be, there was almost no smell at all (although I do wish I hadn't looked down). We actually joined the crowd for the first time before the Queens of the Stone age started (who were very, er, loud) and had moved quite far forward in it by the time David Gray came on (who was quite good, his band were cool too). Pushing forward further, we were only about ten or twelve rows from the front (its hard to be precise because people don't exactly arrange themselves in an orderly fashion in what is essentially a really big mosh pit). This is pretty damn close in a crowd of tens of thousands, especially as we hadn't been there all day (which the people in the front few rows will have been). Even after a few hours though, we were all in a great deal of pain, standing up and looking up at the stage and he screens constantly really hurts your back, and the desire to sit down (which needles to say is impossible) is very pressing. So it was actually something of a relief when - at the start of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' set - there was a great deal of pushing and shoving in the crowd. Of course, if you weren't quick on your feet you had good reason to fear for you life, but it worked wonders for your back. I was a bit worried about Joe though, who is only little and as well as being in danger of being crushed, couldn't reach up to the cleaner and cooler air above the crowd. I was actually quite relieved when Joe and I got pushed further back as I felt less concerned about his safety and was near some slightly less hard core fans who although they did sing along to all the songs, did not look at me funnily for not knowing all the words. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were well worth all the discomfort though, they were brilliant, each of them is such a good performer (I would happily go to see a two-hour solo gig by John Frusciante) and the whole set worked so slickly, they were just awesome to see (and their new album - all the songs that sound so-so on the radio are amazing live). The technical crew pulled out all the stops too, with extra screens, followspots and motorized light gantries and stuff - all very impressive. Richard was annoyed they didn't perform Californication, but their encore (Under the Bridge) took them up to the time limit of V's entertainment license (eleven).
Exiting the arena, we found to our amazement that two of Joe's cans were still in their hiding place. We walked back to Joe's house along the narrow country lanes (narrowly avoiding being hit by a recklessly driven van, and passing a premises containing a very large dog that made Richard particularly uneasy) and collapsed, aching and thirsty in Joe's house where we recouperated, eating pizza and Pringles and playing Tekken until the V festival highlights came on ITV at about two in the morning. Hoping to see ourselves, we discovered the cameras had actually been a Chelmsford, and the program showed all the bands we would see the next day. We only half watched it because as Richard pointed out, we didn't want to 'spoil' seeing the bands live. We paid more attention to the Coldplay highlights because we would be missing them on Sunday (see below) and I watched Ash with interest as I was looking forward to seeing them, and was disappointed to find their performance seemed a bit lackluster.
We arrived earlier on the Sunday (Joe's dad gave us a lift and we didn't have the wristband or beer issues) and sat on the grass to watch Reel Big Fish (who were quite funny and endeared themselves to the crowd with banter like 'Hi, were Coldplay', 'Do you know this exact same concert happened somewhere else yesterday, with all the same bands and all the same jokes, and everything you saw yesterday is happening somewhere else right now, how weird is that' and 'No, we're not really Coldplay... OK, this song is called Monkey Wrench'). Once again, we kept an eye on the stage while The Cardigans and PJ Harvey were on (not together, of course) and discovered we knew a lot more Cardigans songs than we'd thought we did. We all visited the portaloos which once again weren't too unpleasant, however to get to them we had to go round an area of what I shall only refer to as run-off from a site which had unofficially become the place men pee if they don't want to queue for the portaloos (I'm sure you're enjoying this insight into festival life). We returned to the crowd to see The Hives (who's music I think is a bit overrated, but they were fun to watch). We bumped into loads of people from the year below us at school there and stayed with them for the rest of the set, during which it rained on and off (leading The Hives to claim at one point that they had stopped the rain for us). We weren't too far from the stage (we we're by the tech box, which at Weston Park wasn't that far back) but still far back enough to feel stupid singing along or waving our arms about or doing any other similar mosh pit activities. After The Hives finished (and after my continuous nagging at Joe and Richard) pushed further forward to see Ash. I don't know if they gave a poor performance at Chelmsford or if the just don't come across on TV very well but they were ace live. As a considerably greater fan of the band than Richard or Joe I did much more singing and jumping about than either of them, and they probably though I was a bit odd, fortunately for me I was surrounded by lots of people doing the same so didn't feel like the tit I would have certainly looked like had I being doing this on my own. As well as all the previous hits I was looking for Ash played a few song from their forthcoming album, all in all making me one happy festival-goer (although they also played the mediocre 'Envy', though did miss out 'Candy', which is a godawful song). Our backs were saved by managing to grab some sitting down time between The Hives and Ash after we had moved forward, although they still hurt a bit by the time we left. Just before the Foo Fighters came on Joe had to leave (as another Chili Peppers mosh experience brewed) to recover and watch the set from the back of the crowd. Richard an I were a bit worried about Joe (who said he felt sick) but weren't going to miss the set and arranged to meet him later). By this time the Foo Fighters' equipment was all on stage, including *six* Mesa Boogie stacks (for those who don't speak guitar that is a shitload of expensive amplification hardware). I actually can't remember much about the set itself, except that it was really good, and Dave Grohl is something of an expert at inter-song banter. I also remember a particularly variable crowd density, at one point having my arms pinned to my sides and at another loads of space. They played all the songs I was waiting for (which, with the Foo Fighters, is all the songs of theirs I know - Monkey Wrench, Learn to Fly and Breakout. I'm familiar with all the singles off their new album too but I'm not so impressed with them, although they did all sound good live). The Foo Fighters finished early (because Ash had started early and offset the whole running order) which was beneficial to our plan. The plan was to fight our way out of the crowd and go to see Feeder, not that we didn't want to see Coldplay, just that we wanted to see Feeder more. Richard was worried that we might be miles from the stage but I pointed out that Turin Brakes were on beforehand, and Turin Brakes fans are much more likely to want to see Coldplay than Feeder. They were still doing their set when we'd fought our way out of the crowd and met up with Joe again (it took longer to find Richard, as despite being right next to each through Ash and the Foo Fighters, we got separated almost as soon as we tried to make our way through the crowd), so we sat around for a bit and recovered before going to see Feeder. As I predicted, the crowd was tiny and we got very close to the stage (although by the time Feeder came on the crowd was of festival proportions once again). I've heard that Feeder are a good live act but experiencing it first hand was awesome. They just seem to get the crowd involved, and their songs live sound like their not meant to be heard any other way. Despite the crowd probably being less than a quarter of the V population it was still big by the standard of most gigs and there was probably more bouncing up and down than has ever occurred elsewhere (even more than when all those people got together in Birmingham to try to cause and earthquake, maybe they'd have succeeded if they'd booked Feeder). There were a couple of nutters who managed to piss a lot of people off by bouncing around much more violently and shoving people about by bouncing in various directions as well as up and down (and at one point singing Oasis lyrics along to one of the songs, I forget which song or what lyrics). Joe and I kept trying to avoid them but they seemed to home in on us. At one point I gave them (I say them because they were in a kind of loose hug all the time) a massive shove with my elbow mid jump in an attempt to move them away, it didn't work and was probably a pretty stupid thing to do, the guy looked at me funny but I just stared at the staged and silently prayed it seemed accidental and the guy let it go. I think Feeder actually benefited from the smaller stage because although the size of the crowd didn't exactly make it intimate, it meant they were a bit closer. They seemed genuinely grateful so many people had come to see them, it was a testimony to how good a set they did when Grant Nicholas started saying 'we know Coldplay are on the other stage...' that loads of people (many of whom, I suspect like me actually like Coldplay) started shouting stuff along the lines of 'fuck Coldplay!'. Joe, who'd had to be persuaded to come and see them instead of Coldplay, by the end of the gig denied he'd ever wanted to do anything else and began an argument with Richard over who was the bigger Feeder fan.
After their set we left the arena, negotiating the now highly unpleasant run-off (see above) and Joe and Richard both bought cheap Feeder T-shirts from the dodgy vendors outside the Arena gates. To be fair to Coldplay, it seems they had a similar effect on their audience to the one Feeder had on us. A guy on the way out started talking to us about the festival and was going on about how good Coldplay were, when we told him we'd gone to see Feeder instead he started jokily telling us how wrong we were. After he'd been talking at us for a while and getting steadily less amusing and more abusive we edged away from him and talked little on the rest of the walk out of Weston park and down to the pub car park where Richard's dad was meeting us, all eagerly looking forward to the beds, baths and food that awaited us at our respective homes.
I was going to write more about the last few weeks but since I haven't done much and this post is already over 2,500 words long, I think I might save it for later.
I'm going to V for the weekend, which should be a lot of fun. I'll be back on Monday.
I got five As (four if you don't count General Studies).
So I'm going to Warwick to do Maths & Physics (along with Dan & Warren who both got As in Maths, Biology & Physics and Cs in Further Maths and GS). Not many people were dissapointed today, almost everyone got into their first choice, even people who just missed their offer. There were plenty of happy faces at the pub afterwards.
Waiting for the future
Well, it's results day tomorrow and I have yet to mention my exams:
Maths - I had Pure 2 and Pure 3 this summer, as I'd already done four units. I didn't have any problem with either exam (actually, I got a question wrong on one of them but I should pick up working marks on it and I think the rest of each paper went fine). Also, I have to have got stupidly low marks on both of them to have missed out on an A overall.
Physics - I had two Physics units to do, which make up the majority of the mark for this year, I wasn't completely happy with them but I think they went pretty well. I should get an A overall but I'd just like to know.
Economics & Business - I only had one exam which I don't think I did very well in but if I've got my sums right I think can get an A overall even if I get a D on that paper. I wasn't happy with it but I don't think it was that low, so I should get an A, but a B isn't a disaster anyway.
Further Maths - I had four exams, Pure 5, Pure 6, Stats 2 and a re-sit of Pure 4 (I only got a D in that unit last year, getting an A overall thanks to my other modules). They went much better than they could well have done, although I was annoyed about one question on the Pure 4 paper I spent ages on then ran out of time. Shortly after leaving the exam not one but two ways of working out the answer occured to me in perfect clarity (I tried them that night and they both worked). Although Pure 5 and 6 went much better then they could have, that doesn't mean I've done too well in them, especialy Pure 5. Hopefully I'll have got an A overall but I think a B is more likely, I'd be a bit disappointed with a C and surprised to get less than that.
General Studies - I think I may have actually done alright in the French (multiple choice. The essay exams were harder to tell, I think I wrote reasonable answers but the one on the Science Maths and Technology paper didn't seem especially scientific mathematical or technological. I'd like to get an A but I shouldn't need General Studies anyway so it's not very important.
Warwick want As in Maths and Physics and a B in Further Maths or Economics, which I should be fine for but I'd still like to know for sure. My backup offer is Nottingham who want an A in Maths B and Physics and either a B in Economics or a C in Further Maths, which is pretty flexible if I don't make Warwick's offer. I think I'd be happy at either uni and if I don't get the right grades for either I'd be pretty dissapointed anyway, I'd want As in Maths and Physics whether I needed them or not. I'd be happy (and I think relieved) to make my Warwick offer and ecstactic with all As (which is not out of the question but could easily not happen).
Good luck to anyone else getting results tomorrow, I'll update tomorrow or Friday.
A story in pictures
In order to try and clear the backlog of things I want to post to my journal without events appearing in the wrong order I feel like I'm withholding information. Anyway, this post is essentially a link to a load of photos from the end of school. Some are from the last day, but the majority are taken on the night of our formal dress leavers' ball. They all have captions (although some are just names of the people in the photos for future reference) so the 'gallery' as a whole gives a better (and probably more interesting/amusing) impression of events than I could express in prose.
Wolgarston Class of 2003
The first post of this journal is not entirely a happy one, I've been intending to make it for about three months, but have not felt able to sit down and write what I want until now (a date of no importance). The purpose of this post is to explain the gap between the end of my previous journal (prawn) and the start of this one. After writing the following, I found it didn't read as well as I thought it would, but I hope it is still clear and unambiguous.
On the 15th of April 2003 my father died - suddenly and unexpectedly - as a result of a heart attack while at work. I have never had to cope with anything like this before and still find the enormous significance of this event difficult to comprehend. The idea that a person - particularly a person I was so close to, and known for every single day of my life - can simply stop existing is a concept completely unfamiliar and quite upsetting for me. I have learned that this is not something I will go through and then leave behind, it is something I will have to deal with every single day for the rest of my life. Some days I will deal with it well, others will end in despair as I give up trying to accept this loss. As time goes on, I have and will become more skilled at dealing with this, and find more things in life to help in this effort. I think it has been a help that I have had other things in my life at this time that could not be put on hold and required the focus of my energies, my last term of school leading to my final A-level exams keeping me occupied. It only took me a few days to realize that normality is the greatest comfort, and since the situation which has been normal for me for the last eighteen years is no longer within my grasp, the routine of school and the relationships with friends and the rest of my family have become all the more important. I cannot say whether I will begin to feel much worse in the near future, but at this time I am confident I am coping well - I feel as normal and well-adjusted as I ever did, if not as happy.
What I have actually done over the last three months with friends and school etc. will come in following posts. The decision to continue an online journal is one I have been considering for some time. The fact that I turned away from this community and not to it when my father died could not be ignored. Also, my interest in my previous journal had been already been dwindling, and the gaps between posting to it lengthening. However, I found that this process is one that I missed, I think that keeping a journal has become quite important to me, and putting my feelings and experiences into words is a good thing to do. I still care about the people who LiveJournal allowed me to communicate with. Also, I will be starting at university this year which may mean I will value my journal more.
Finally I must address the issue of why I changed my username. Partially it's because I have neglected my previous journal over the last year so and attempts to stop my declining attention to it have been half-hearted. A new start seems like a good idea as it gives a discrete point to begin from. I feel it is appropriate given that my family has changed, and the move to university will mean my daily life and my friends will change. Also, although I don't think I have changed a great deal, I feel a little older and wiser than I did when I last updated a journal. I don't think that the name I used to use ever really suited me and it feels distinctly uncomfortable now. I chose 'just a man' as it appeared in the middle of some words I wrote a while ago in a moment of clarity and seems to make sense. I am comfortable with my importance in the grand scheme of things, and also having just passed my eighteenth birthday I am legally just a man.