Monthly Archives: November 2010

Snow

I hate to say this, but somewhere along the line I have become an utter snow Scrooge. Yes, alright, it’s all very pretty, there are icicles, leaves and holly berries looking all lusciously Christmas-card-esque, the sun on the snow is rather jolly at times, but actually, no, look at it, be sensible, it’s a nightmare.

This morning I had set out late enough as it was, for my lecture. And it then took me over an hour to get to said lecture. So I missed the lecture altogether in the end. This is partly due to the lack of grip on the boots I was wearing, partly because I’m a massive wuss, and all because of the snow.

And yes, I am a massive wuss. I don’t want to fall over, I’ll get wet, I’ll hurt myself, I’ll slow myself down, I’ll probably rip my gloves or my coat or something, it’ll be horrible. Doubly horrible because in the snow you’re more likely to break something. Even more horrible because the massive downside of being as flexible as I am (yes, OK, have a good giggle, move on…) is that if you fall, you’re more likely to twist your ankle or your knee or your hip as you go down and do permanent damage. A friend of mine who, like me, is hypermobile, is going to be in a wheelchair or on crutches for life because of one simple trip involving a rabbit hole and a knee twisted through 180 degrees. And that is frankly not a risk I like having to take just to get down to lectures or into town.

So no, frankly, I am not a fan of the snow. Eight inches and it’s still falling. I had to miss orchestra last night because I absolutely point blank refuse to risk taking my cello out for a walk in these conditions. It’s far too valuable for that, and anyway, falling with a cello is likely to cause me even more damage. I’ve now got to try and man up in the next few hours in order to head back out for a choir practice. But right now I’m going to climb into bed with my anatomy textbook and an obscene quantity of coffee.

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Time You'll Be Glad You Spent…

A relative of mine was on the radio today, and you can hear him here in the first fifteen minutes of the programme. In my opinion, the discussion between Laurie Taylor, Su Maddock and said relation was a real indictment of the Big Society that David Cameron is so fond of talking about. Why I hadn’t come across Thinking Allowed before now, I don’t know, but it’s a really interesting, well-constructed programme and well worth the listen – this issue especially if you’ve any interest in having your ear to the ground about politics and society in the UK. Get to it!

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Some Recent Things…

Firstly, why don’t condoms come in sizes? This from a conversation between me and one of my (male) housemates. I mean, seriously: textures, thicknesses, lubrication – they’re all things you can choose about your condom on any pharmacy shelf – but not size. That strikes even me as rather odd – and I don’t have a penis. I mean, it’s surely like shoes being all one size – daft. Imagine if you could buy shoes in ‘canvas’ or ‘extra-leathery’, but they were all exactly 12 inches in length, or something.

In other news, it’s bloody freezing here, and we’ve been told it might snow. Apparently it is also going to get a lot colder. I am not excited about this at all. It’s definitely cold enough already.

On the upside, Advent Sunday this week at church, so lots of lovely carols and whatnot. And the best thing about church services is that you get to wear all that choirboy gear over your clothes, so I’ll definitely be warm enough.

Furthermore, I had a singing lesson last week, which was amazing.

And today I nearly joined in the demonstration at university against the university funding cuts, but then decided that actually getting my education was more important, so I went to my lecture. There was one placard with a picture of Samantha Cameron on it, beside which was the caption: ‘NOT THE ONLY ONE GETTING SCREWED BY DAVID CAMERON’. I have to say I did think that was quite funny.

Finally, it’s snowing. I am not impressed with this. It’s November and if this is what this winter is going to be like, it’s going to be hard work, frankly.

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I'm A Terrible Person

I can’t believe that this isn’t in my blog roll. But here, it is, at last. Dom Rout’s blog, which, frankly, is better than mine – and I don’t think that’s just because my blog is so terribly written and dull at the moment – which it is, and I’m sorry.

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So Bad It's Funny, Or Just Bad?

Do you want to know just how stupidly mentally busy this last week and a half have been? You do, you know you do. This is more than usual levels of Completely Insane and Stressful. This requires superpowers, I swear. And superpowers? I does not haz dem. Yup, this week has made me retreat into being a Lolcat. That’s serious stress.

Not to spoil the ending, or anything, but let’s just jump straight in with a simple list of stuff that this last week entailed. Firstly, my grandmother’s funeral at the weekend. So I was neither in Uni-Town nor, really, able to do any work. Three concerts, one of which is yet to happen. A church service in which I was singing and audition (of sorts) for the choir in question. A memorial service, in which I was also singing. An exam. A lab report deadline. And, finally, builders, in swarms.

What this in fact means is that I got back to Uni-Town late on Saturday and didn’t want to do much more than sit at home and drink beer and watch films and cheer myself up. On Sunday I tried to crack on with this lab report, completely neglecting to revise for the exam simply because I wanted to finish the lab report first. I then had to go to Evensong in order to meet Father P who runs the choir and organise getting into the choir. Monday was OK-to-good because it involved orchestra and discovering that I’m close neighbours with someone who drives down – and with whom I can get a lift. Which is beyond wonderful.

On Tuesday I woke up with a full-blown, raging cold. The conductor of the uni chamber choir rang me to see if I had any of the music we would need for the Memorial Service the next day (this is a service for the family and friends of those who give their bodies for the Medical Teaching Unit for us to dissect and study) – I was astonished that we didn’t actually have any of it, or access to it (don’t get me started on that particular rant) but too ill and too busy to help sort it out. I caved and got an extension on the lab report deadline so that I would actually have some time to revise for the exam; I also went and croaked my way feverishly through my first church choir rehearsal, and fell into bed several hours later and more tired than planned.

On Wednesday I just about dragged myself out of bed in time for the worst day of the lot. A full day of rehearsals: firstly for the Memorial Service, just before the service itself. Without a break, straight on to the rehearsal for Tuesday’s concert, where we as a choir were totally shown up because (cue another disorganisation-of-people-who-should-know-better rant) we were basically sightreading, having hardly rehearsed any of the piece in question (for those in the know, Haydn’s Nelson Mass). What’s worse, the bloke conducting us in this particular concert (i.e. not the normal choir conductor) is a member of the Music Faculty who is retiring and is giving this concert as a leaving bash, I gather. He was so nice about the whole thing, which made it feel even worse. From there, straight on (yeah, you can forget lunch, or by this point, even dinner) to a normal choir rehearsal, for our concerts on Thursday and Friday, in which I had no voice. The rehearsal over-ran by fully an hour with no notice ahead of T saying so at the beginning of the rehearsal. I have a solo in one of the pieces but my voice has been so bad over the last few days that it sounded terrible. We were still note-bashing most of the pieces, which is so frustrating words cannot describe. I left practically in tears because…

…yes, you’ve guessed it, I had this exam, at 9am the following morning, which as yet I had not had the time to revise for, at all. I have a terrible memory. However much background reading I’ve done, it seems that if I haven’t read it about two days before I need to know it, I just won’t recall it in an exam situation. So I spent far too much of that night cramming, panickedly.

Straight up and into my exam the following morning. Still desperately cramming on the bus. Straight from the exam into the rehearsal for thursday’s concert, a lunchtime bash, in which my solo went no better than it had previously, but is thankfully only one phrase so I had to tell myself it wasn’t like it mattered. And, finally, a break. Time to catch up on that lab report. Time to ring my landlady and mention a couple of problems we’d had with the house – and straight away she said she’d come round first thing Friday morning with ‘her’ builders to have a look at things and sort them out. And come round they did… so I spent a lot of Friday explaining all of these problems (boiler, shower, damp, ceilings leaking from outside (chimney being removed and brickwork repointed), rot in my floor (dry rot, woodworm, my room was riddled with it); and then I found myself removing all my possessions from my room and making round upon round of tea for the builders. And then Friday’s late evening concert, a few drinks, involving chalk, and then Saturday. Technically there was a rehearsal that morning for the Nelson Mass but I was so tired and so ill that I simply couldn’t get out of bed in time. I feel bad for that, but honestly if there was anything else I could have done, I would have been there. But later, A came round, and we had cake with H, and watched Wallace and Gromit films, and it was all lovely.

Sunday was Remembrance, of course, which was quite a big service at St Matthew’s, and I got to wear the whole cassock-and-surplice get-up, and the priest even said at the beginning of his notices when he was welcoming the congregation and so on, ‘an especially warm welcome to Jenny, who joins us in the choir today’. And then Monty Python and pasta and cookies and then I went home to work on my lab report and knit and watch telly and finally things are getting back to normal. The builders finished my floor today. They’re coming back in a few days with a new window, and at some point I’m going to get a new carpet, and there is a lot of building work to be done on the roof, but at the moment at least I can move back into my room and, having a new floor, it will hopefully be warmer than it was in there.

So. Confused? You and me both.

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See How They Grow

Has anyone else noticed this about getting further into your twenties and away from your teens? A couple of years ago, I was, if not invincible, at least pretty tough. Sure, I couldn’t jump off things without a lot of embarassing shrieking and limping about, and I’ve always been prone to headaches, but otherwise, I wasn’t too bad.

If I’d been for a long walk one day and gone to bed with swollen ankles and aching legs, I’d wake up completely pain free and ready to do it all over again straight off, as if I’d never actually been out on the hill the day before. If I stayed up all night I could usually push straight through the next day if needs be and body-clock-wise I’d be back on track within about twenty-four hours.

Now, though, things have changed. I’m far more aware of all my limbs, and my back. They don’t hurt, the vast majority of the time, but they aren’t so happy to just do whatever I tell them to do, when I tell them to do it. My back does hurt just now , and my shoulders and neck, because I’ve been lying down all night and I haven’t yet quite lengthened out again, if that makes sense. I swear lengthening-out wasn’t something I ever had to worry about before. Although I could quite happily go out now and do ten or fifteen miles, I would feel it tomorrow morning, I would know I’d done that walk, and I’d like to think I could go out and do it all again the next day – but I can’t be sure.

I am far too tired. I need my sleep, I need time to sit down and gather my forces, this pell-mell pace of life isn’t something I can keep going for long without time to stand and stare. This week has, to be fair, been particularly hellish. Two big deadlines and no less than four choral concerts (all with the same choir) with several days worth of rehearsals to go with it – and it’s not over yet. Building works in my house, here (woodworm, dry rot – pretty much my entire floor is being replaced. Our landlady has been absolutely brilliant about the whole thing, she is truly a miracle). My body clock seems to be utterly dead in the water and right now all I can think about is: when do I get to go back to bed?

I was talking about this to my mother a while back, and apparently I’m not imagining things – it really is the case that as you get older, things do come less easily to you. It does hurt to kneel down for long periods of time, to do lots of housework, to cart heavy shopping around and to walk probably upwards of four miles most days. Perhaps it’s partly because, as an adult, you are doing more, but you do cease to be invincible. Yes, you can take all of these things in your stride, but the day has long gone when all of this stuff doesn’t so much as touch you. These days I need a decent amount of sleep most nights. I need my weekends. I need vegetables, and I need water, and I am simply not capable of drinking as much as I used to. I used to be able to stay up and stay out all night several nights in a row, sleep late for one night, and keep going. The difference, now, is that I simply need a bit more recovery time.

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The Worst And The Best Thing

I’m not sure if I hate it or love it. You know how you’ll be dreaming those dreams you do just before you wake up, and they’re basically reasonably realistic, quite short, snippets, vignettes, moments that could be real – those are the moments I’m talking about.

And then you wake up and you realise that no, it’s not like that, you’re not where you dreamt you were sleeping, if you wake up and put on your dressing gown and head down the stairs, what you’ll find at the bottom is not the face you’re looking for – you’re not, in fact, even in the house you thought you were in, but that’s not really the difference that matters, and this is how life is now.

This is how it is. Sometimes, for a few moments, it’s easy to forget. It’s sunny and unfractured and beautifully, perfectly normal. And the forgetting is wonderful, but does it make up for the moment when you remember again?

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Pineapples.

You should read this. It’s both fun and interesting. The comments are also hysterically funny. It’s about sex and Stephen Fry so by some kind of hypothetical formula it’s probably the coolest thing on the interwebs right now or indeed possibly ever. It’s also by Victoria Coren who is obviously a genius.

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Yesterday, It Came To My Attention That…

…I was a member of nearly 300 groups on facebook. This struck me as ridiculous. I spent a long while removing myself from said groups, and now, looking at what’s left, they fall into some slightly odd categories:

  • Church groups
  • Educational institutions I have belonged to
  • Groups comparing certain composers to sex (“Saying ‘No’ to Shostakovich is like saying ‘No’ to Sex”; “I would have a quickie with Brahms”, and so on…)
  • Musical groups I am in/organise/used to be in
  • Musical snobbery groups (“The I Know What A Ceilidh Is Society”, “People who DON’T clap between movements”…)
  • Slacktivism (joining groups simply to state that you Believe Really Strongly in a certain cause without then necessarily going on to do something useful to do with that cause, e.g. give money or sign petitions *guilty-face*)…
  • …and self-righteous anger (e.g. “Against Gay Marriage? Then Don’t Get One And Shut The  Fuck Up”)
  • Groups organising my social life (“[Friend]’s Housebuddies”, “Gigs that I think people would enjoy”…)
  • Fan groups for fairly specific things (e.g. the ducklings that inhabit a pond near where I lived in first year).

No, I wouldn’t add myself as a friend either.

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Am V B & I…

…so, in brief, I would like to have, one day, a set of shelves that necessitated a ladder. It would be full of novels and poetry and sheet music and scores and CDs and in front of it, by a metre or so, because this would be a lovely, big room, there would be a large grand piano.

Carrying out this plan, however, necessitates getting a degree. So I might just picture-spam you sporadically for a while, or there might be nothing at all, or, once in a while, there might a post containing a list of things that make me happy or make me cross or make me sad or something. Deadlines of doom are on the 11th. Perhaps we will get back in gear after that.

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