Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Give It The Max Factor

Some time ago I decided to enter the circus that is student politics. To do this, I am running for election to be the Students' Union Welfare Officer. Everybody loves the shallow nature of politics, imagine it for young people. I'm not saying that student politicians don't do good work (I'd not be interested if I didn't think it was worthwhile) but the rigmarole of actually getting elected worries me. It's not real politics because you don't get handed briefcases of money or cut ribbons. But the job basically involves providing support and representation for students in issues of Welfare, and raise the awareness of mental health, physical health and safety issues. Housing, financial responsibility. To coordinate the Students' Union's response to these issues. I think it sounds fun. And interesting. And quite frankly, I think I'd be good at it.

I had a conversation today though that illuminated for me the level to which I am up against it. Nominations have not yet opened, yet I can name half a dozen candidates, and there are more than that. Which means the next step of my plan is going to be getting noticed. So input required now Maxfans, as I need a slogan. Giving Welfare the Max Factor. MaxWelFare, Welfare: Take it to the Max. I have had many suggestions. I am going to have to whore out every waking hour of my time talking to people, handing out leaflets and talking in lectures. Kissing of babies and giving the V for peace sign I presume is optional.

So if you're reading this and go to Sheffield University, you are now morally obliged to put your trust in me to be your Welfare Officer. If you do not, you are now morally obliged to befriend people who do go to University at Sheffield and tell them to. Student Officers do hard, unrewarded work (well, it is a salaried role, but when I say unrewarded I mean people assume their job is easy, which it really isn't). So we're going to do it. I have a dream. Ask not what your Union can do for you etc etc.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Blue Screen of Death

I was having a conversation with my housemate (the one who has a new found thing about going to Wales) and we were browsing Wikipedia, comparing today's modern wrestlers to the ones we remember as a child. We don't much watch it any more, because we're not 12. But his younger brother does, and I like to fondly remember my days of the WWE before it harvested anti-Arabian sentiment in a politically unstable climate and used it for entertainment.

But we think we have a fresh angle. A positive stereotype to reinforce. A young, Asian man...who is an I.T. technician. He will be called: The Blue Screen. He will dress in a smart pair of trousers and white shirt. Smart slick hair, bespectacled, pens in his top pocket. This guy looks like he's going to wipe your hard drive into a submission. In preparation for this new character, we have compiled a list of his specialist moves and techniques:

The Loading Screen: A submission move, very painful. Whilst in effect, he aggressively shouts PLEASE WAIT, LOADING IN PROGRESS at you.

Windows Crash: The Blue Screen drags an old monitor into the ring, and kicks your head into it.

DOS Dive: I dunno, some sort of flying maneouvre from the top rope.

Blue Screen of Death: A specialist clothesline, rendering you unconscious.

The Double Click: Some sort of double kick combo. These ideas are getting a bit half-formed now.

We've not yet decided what music he would enter to, but perhaps some sort of extended remix of the Intel Inside jingle. Or I liked the idea of the Tetris theme tune. Needless to say his video would begin with a lot of green, Matrix-style text scrolling across the screen followed by him looking very serious, installing new software onto your laptop and browsing for affordable replacement parts on Ebay. He naturally, comes from:,_Indiana

Though if that is not good enough, Silicon Valley would probably do.

Anyway, this has been enough procrastination for now. All further ideas for the character would be appreciated, and casting will begin shortly.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Not Just Deadlines!

Ha, how could I forget. Not just essays loom large over the horizon for the student. But equally, the prospect of exams. I worry how I will adjust to life after university, when evaluation of my performance won't take place in a disused canteen, in silence...with my phone turned two hour blocks. I am not naive, and know whatever I end up doing after university, I will have to jump through hoops and present myself for the approval of those above me in the food chain. However, I do dearly look forward to it feeling a little less arbitrary and concentrated.

I only actually have two exams. I live with a girl who has 5. I don't mention people by name in this blog very often, so let's have a bit of trivia. Her name is Sarah. She hails from North Wales, and that rhymes. She has a hot water bottle and is a vegetarian. There we go. I hope you're taking notes by the way, there will be questions at the end. But two exams feels like a lot when you've only understood half the course. I know, I know, people make their own beds and lie in them. People who don't understand things by this point in life should understand the necessity of humbling themselves and asking for help. But when you haven't understood half the lectures, there becomes a point when it becomes both embarrassing and a little impolite to send your tutor an email telling him how inpenetrable and tedious his course is. And I love that guy, anyway.

The problem is that whenever I attempt the very difficult bits of philosophy, I always fall short. I should stick to Ancient Philosophy, when it was all very simple because they were the first people to say anything, or the wishy washy ethics modules. I do not have that extra motivation, intuition and intelligence to simply understand it. I will buy myself a really big cake and invite everyone I know to eat it, if I ever understand Descartes to the required levels as stipulated by my university. This cake'll be fucking huge.

But I shall return to Wales for a moment, like the devolution debate, or Dawn French. She's from Angelsey. Don't say you don't learn things reading my blog, Maxfans. My other housemate, whose name is James, has recently received two rather large pieces of post. Combined, they comprise seven separate brochures for holidaying in Wales. The Valleys, Carmarthenshire, Brecon Beacons, the lot. Glossy, slick and utterly unenticing. Who would ever want to holiday in this country? I'm not disparaging about the UK, and there's much to do here. But why anyone would want to spend a long weekend in Haverfordwest as opposed to Barcelona eludes me. The only way I can positively summarise my experiences of Welsh holidays as a child would be: character-building. And even that sounds ambiguous.

I've not posted much on this recently, having been somewhat deflated. Of the various rights of passage to becoming an adult, I consider some of them achieved for me, some not. Losing one's virginity, graduating from school/university, learning to drive, leaving home, that sort of thing. Anyway, I've been going through the "first serious breakup" stage of becoming a fabulous young adult. This is where relationships as represented through films, music and tele let me down. For all the representations of dizzying butterflies in the stomach, blazing rows and gut-wrenching heartache, I was taken utterly by surprise by the overwhelming sense of sad, heavy disappointment and heightened-emotion that sits on you like...a big elephant, sitting on you. But not like in India, where they go mental and kill people, and George Orwell has to write an essay about having to shoot it (though really it was about imperialism and the role of the colonist, clearly). See, the mood got light again? Anyone who has ever read Shooting An Elephant will be right on board with me here.

But yes, I shall endeavour to instead dazzle my reader(s), (I sense that pluralised form was optimistic) with my spunky resiliance, my gallows humour and psuedo-intellectual asides about people like George Orwell.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

This Is What The Blog Was For: Dawdling

Deadlines. Monday. Big Essay. Biggest of the Degree so far. 3000 short words for 70% of a module. Enquiring minds wanted to know what I was going to do with the rest of my life before. Now, one enquiring mind (maybe two, I can't remember if this gets double-marked) want to know what I think about Victorian Literature. I'm tapping out the draft, which will have all the important ideas in, probably in the wrong order and all in need of rephrasing. But I don't mind that, because the rephrasing bit makes me feel like an important speechwriter of some sort.

Needless to say as the essay deadline draws closer, I've got good at procrastinating. This morning I have already slept in, tided my room a bit and made a frankly indulgently complicated omlette. I have not yet opened my curtains. Red pepper, mushroom, garlic, bacon, cheddar. My omlette, not my curtains. Honestly, I should've submitted the omlette instead. The edge was slightly overdone, but it was at least a 2.1.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Undercover Agent

I've always said that, working in a restaurant, it's weird being a customer there. That said, the last time I tested out this theory was a bit special. My family and I went on a busy evening, and we were served by my new boyfriend at the time. I think anyone would've felt a touch weird at that. Or maybe just late teenagers, who are prime for overreacting to all social occasions and taking embarassment where it's not necessary.

Tonight I am going to my work as a customer again. Just with a solitary friend, as we are bored. I am more concerned this time with not getting too inebriated by accident and breaking things. Keeping a low profile, as to make sure I don't get reprimanded by management figures. I'm even taking a voucher. I'm such a fucking bastard. I hate those vouchers gits. Smash and grab cheapskates, we are.

It's also part of the art of procrastination. Though I am no longer in meltdown mode over the essay I am trying to write, I certainly don't want to sit and stare at my laptop screen with anything relevant on it. I feel a bit guilty about being a student and not enjoying it. I am told it's an easy life, and it is. But the thought of returning to my cold house in Yorkshire so I can spend my time in the library and in the chest freezer that is our living room is not an enticing prospect. That said, I am keen on not living with my parents until I am 30. Must go to university, must earn degree that employers will not giggle at...must get...some...sort of job? I can be discerning later, when I have a mortgage.

I've been thinking about this. Rather a lot. I have been having conversations with my boyfriend. I am sure he won't mind my writing about this, as no one reads this blog except me and occasionally one or two unfortunate strays (this means you Ken). He is facing one of those moments where you have to seriously contemplate his job and home. Does one move to further a career? Do you need to make decisions quickly or let events take their own route, etc. Anyway, while it is not an urgent problem, it's a crossroads I wouldn't like to be stood at.

He is 24, boys and girls. I am 20. For all my jokes about his zimmer frames and free bus passes, I do not consider our ages to be different. He knows a lot about life and shit that I do not. He's got a lot more life experience and day-to-day life nous than I have. But at the end of the day, the idea of having to make it on my own in a few short months is kinda scary. I draw some comfort from my brother. He is 27 and I have endless respect for the man. I value his advice and friendship above anyone else's, but I don't think of him as nearly 30. He's just one of those people a bit older than me.

This said, I've always thought of him as older. Our fraternal relationship was defined by age. He was bigger than me. That's why we've never really had to be competitive or had real rivarly. It's a proper brother relationship where you value each other without having a strange complex about having to prove yourself. But there are people, who I consider basically my age, having real lives. In my daydream moments, I imagine myself with a flat, a job, a car even (OK let's not go crazy) and it's not scary in my imagination. But in my imagination I have more guts than I have in real life!

I'm hoping age ain't nothin' but a number.