March 2nd 2007
A very exciting day lies ahead of me. As I write this, it is twenty to one in the morning, and in 440 short minutes I'll be at a prayer meeting. Then I'll have a lecture (Galois theory, named after Evariste Galois, a French mathematician who died in a duel over a woman's hand at the age of 20, or so I understand), before going on to a maths prayer meeting (which I'm leading, since Roger's not around). Then I'm at the health centre for a bit, then I'll find David to wish him a happy birthday and give him a present. After that I'll hurry off to the train station (probably via home, depending on what the time's looking like) to go visit Simon in Oxford town. There I shall spend a relaxed weekend, away from the hubble and bubble of assessment centres, job interviews and so forth. You see, I was very happy to be offered a job by Standard Life, but at the moment AXA is really my first choice (being based in Bristol, rather than Edinburgh) - this has built up from a tentative preference to a rather over-stated one. Don't get me wrong, working for SL would be great, but (without even having been to the assessment centre yet) AXA seems ideal. Now, the problem is that I received a package from SL yesterday telling me that I have to sign everything and return it within five working days... which I reckon takes me up to about Thursday, the day after my assessment centre with AXA. So I shall be involved with phone calls etc today, asking AXA whether they'd be in the position to confirm a job offer (or its absence) within a day of the assessment centre. After all, SL did, so it can't be too unusual. I should also contact SL, I guess... it's all very confusing, but thankfully I have two prayer meetings today in which to bring it before God (and every second of the day before and after, naturally). Actually, AXA have been slightly unimpressive in as much as they've yet to get back to me about accommodation and a meal beforehand - despite the proximity of the assessment day. Ho-hum. In other news, I've never had an electric shock before (apart from deliberately, on an electric fence, many moons ago) so when I managed to give myself one on the kettle the other day, it was something of a new experience. You see, it was like this guv; part of the bit that goes in from the wall broke, and I happened to touch an inside bit (man, this is technical), which resulted in my screaming in a very high-pitched, very girly way and jumping across the kitchen. Ach well; that which does not kill me makes me slightly more afraid of approaching Rich's kettle.
March 6th 2007
I should really be preparing for my visit down to AXA tonight (train leaving in 3 and a bit hours, so no need to rush about yet), so I'll keep this brief. I spent the weekend over at Simon's, which was very nice (although I can't help but feel that, once I've amazed everyone present by looking a bit like Simon, I am something of a theatrical disappointment). Actually, while I was there, I spied a Neighbours spoiler, which is something I don't really like to do. I stumbled across it, and then could not rest until I had discovered all - I apologise to Simon for revealing it to him, inadvertently, and for the benefit of those of you who read this and don't want to know what's going to happen on Neighbours, the rest of this entry is going to be the same shade as the background. If you want to read it, hit Ctrl-A. It seems that, once and for all, Max and Steph are splitting up - he is going to come back, and they will give their marriage a go, but before long they will go their separate ways. And it is irrevocable, as Stephen Lovatt (Max) is leaving the show. I can't believe they're doing this, as the couple is absolutely fantastic, and have gone through so much... the scriptwriters' belief that a happy couple is a boring couple has seen them almost split on several occasions, but what I really hoped for was a settled, loving marriage. It cannot be, and so that will be the end of SCB; more, it will be the end of me watching Neighbours. Yes, big change though it is, the moment Max leaves the show will be the moment I become an ex-viewer.
March 9th 2007
The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things. Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax; of cabbages and kings. Let me run through those in order. First off, shoes; one of the main topics of conversation that I pushed in Oxford was the fact that my right shoe had a hole in it and my right foot was thus very wet. Naturally, I solved the problem by putting my foot in a plastic bag, in my shoe; this worked an absolute treat. Next up, ships - I can think of nothing pertinent to say. Did you know that the Titanic sank? Sorry to ruin the ending of the film for those of you who didn't. Now, I'm not entirely sure what sealing wax is, so I'll leave it. Actually, it's probably something to do with wax, with which you can seal stuff. Which links me nicely into cabbages, which suck. And kings, which are anachronistic and suck more (although in my last ever 10.25 meeting as a leader, we talked about Jesus as a King - now that's kingship with which I can get on board). I tire of this, so I'm not even going to point out the obvious fallacies in the whole sea-boiling-hot hypothesis (although that would mean you could make loads of tea). Instead, I'm going to turn my attention to AXA, since yesterday they offered me a job, and I'm going to accept - praise the Lord! I'm very happy (I even smiled at the time), and this means I'm gonna be in Bristol, a nice distance from the Somerset massif, and a very reasonable kind of position in the country. I may speak more of this some other time (indeed, if I maintain a diary, it will crop up a lot in the next few years) but that's all now. In other news, did you hear that Becky and Adam are now an item? Although this puts paid to the idea that both Phil and Simon have suggested, that Becky and I could save a fortune on birthday parties by getting married - I was never really of the opinion that this was a wise reason for marriage, so I guess it's all worked out for the best.
March 10th 2007
As half-promised, I'm going to fill in the details a tad about the AXA assessment centre I attended during last week. 'Twas a Tuesday night that I arrived at Bristol Parkway (a station with happy memories for me, such as leaving interviews and buying a cookie), having missed a Problem Solving 'lecture' to be there. The paucity of printers in my bedroom led me to hand-drawing a map (again), which naturally led to me getting a little lost on the way to my room in the local Holiday Inn. Actually, other than going in the wrong direction initially, and turning up on a completely different road to the one I thought I was on, I made it there without too much mishap, at just before 7pm. This left me an hour to get to the pub where we were meeting some existing actuaries - fortunately (and unexpectedly, by the maps we'd been given) the pub was literally a stone's throw from the Holiday Inn - it was more or less in the car park, and right outside my window. So I passed the time by changing my shirt, watching an episode of the Simpsons on Sky One, making and drinking a cup of tea and phoning Dad to let him know I had arrived. Literally; not figuratively. Yet. Anyways, I meandered over to the pub at 8pm, wondering how on earth I was supposed to know who the AXA bunch were... this conundrum I solved by asking the lass at the bar, who pointed me in the right direction. About half of those who were to come were already there, and the evening passed quite well - some were more extroverted than others, and the two student actuaries who were there disagreed on [the answers to] most of the questions we asked them (the man was normally correct, a counterexample to the 'women are always right' theory). It transpired that of the eight or so of us there, there was one guy, called Rob, who was studying Chemistry at Warwick, and a lass who had the unlikely name of Anna Genda, and had last year graduated from Warwick, studying maths. Swish. Sadly, both of them were former Lame-ites, and poured scorn on the wonder that is Earlsdon. Ho-hum. Anyways, we dined sumptuously, and I went to bed feeling chuffed with life in general - and the Lord God in particular. The next day dawned as expected, and we trooped over to the AXA centre, finding it first time - curiously, it was the first time that one or two of them had been there, since they'd been to London for the first interview. At the centre there were a few more people, bringing the total number of assessees to 10, I think; one guy was already on a placement at AXA, so is more or less guaranteed a job, one lass's partner was already working there, so she's a shoo-in... one guy (called Guy, in fact) knew Guy Cooke well, which probably won't affect his job prospects, but should. All in all the day wasn't too stressful, since they attempted to make us as relaxed as possible (and I already had a job offer from SL, meaning I could take it a bit easy), and there were plenty of breaks throughout the day. First off was the group exercise, in which we (as a group of four) had ten minutes to read through a pack of information, and then fifty minutes to discuss the itinerary of some trip, as if in a group meeting. This didn't go too badly, although ten minutes was far too short to read the pack, and we ended up not pricing one option, so by necessity had to go for the other. I also fear that one of the guys got a bit lost in the proceedings, and no-one really helped him out as much as we should. I definitely preferred the SL group exercise. Anyways, once that were done, the next item on the agenda was the competency interview: by now I'd got used to these, and was probably a little too relaxed, and not as diligent about making sure that my answers reflected what a great employee I'd be. As usual a lot of my answers revolved around overtly Christian activities, such as CU, 10.25, Montenegro, Merseyfest, and the interviewer told me afterwards, off the record, that he was a Christian, and would help me out in finding a church if I did get a job there (by the bye, he did make very clear that he was in no way biased by our shared faith - we Christians tend to look down on miscarriages of justice if the chance arises). Then it was lunch, and despite it being curry day we were shepherded off to a table of sandwiches, where as usual there was no such thing as an unadulterated cheese sandwich. Branston pickle? A low point of the day - not that I ate any, of course. After lunch came what I'd been dreading most; a presentation to prepare in one hour, in which we had to choose between two potential sites for a manufacturing plant, and say why. At SL we'd had 2.5 hours to make a presentation and a (quite long) written report, so an hour here was pretty generous - remembering that I ran out of time at SL, I made sure I started the presentation-writing sharpish, and was able to finish with a few minutes to check everything through - then it was off to present my decision, and this went much better than I expected (although the SL one went well too, so I guess I'm better at it than I thought). The presentee I had was, as more or less everyone I've encountered at AXA has been, very nice, and she even congratulated me on my summary. There seemed to be a rigid system in which she ticked things off as I said them, and then asked questions about the things I hadn't said; since I'd been pretty thorough, the questions lasted only a few minutes, and I was back and finished long before anyone else doing presentations. When everyone did get back, we had only to fill in evaluation forms, and watch a DVD about AXA... except, unfortunately, someone had switched the AXA DVD for The Brothers Grimm, which confused everyone - the lass operating the computer fast-forwarded for about half an hour's screen time; I'm not sure whether she was hoping that it would suddenly become an AXA advert. Well, it didn't, so she retrieved some adverts from her computer and played those (this did not play a large part in my decision to choose AXA above SL)... and then we were free. Three of us headed off to Parkway to get the train to Birmingham New Street, and in fact I was with Rob all the way to Cov, since he's on campus this year. So that was AXA. Bye.
March 12th 2007
It's one of those days on which I'm going to stick my head above the political parapet. In fact, I'm even going to go so far as to agree with Rod Liddle, who in yesterday's Sunday Times wrote what I'd been thinking already. It's all to do with the Tory MP Patrick Mercer, who was recently vilifed by most (including his boss, Dave Cameron) for his comments in an interview with the Times. His main crimes, it seems, were to say that
(i) Soldiers are likely to call other soldiers 'black b*****d' in much the same way as they'd call others 'ginger b*****d' or 'fat b*****d'.
(ii) He's known lazy or incompetent soldiers who use their race or ethnicity as an excuse.
I have to ask, with Rod - where's the racism? If taken at face value, there's none there at all: yes, soldiers are likely to call each other b*****d and pick up on a certain physical characterstic. I've never fully understood, in fact, why 'black' is not allowed to be used in an insult, but 'ginger' (say) is; these insults are inherently the same. Actually, I say I don't understand, but I do really; it's because black people have, for centuries, been persecuted, exploited and even killed because of the colour of their skin, whereas ginger people haven't (at least, not in anywhere near so large a scale). So basically Patrick Mercer (who, by the way, was not calling anyone a black b*****d, merely reporting the fact that others have) is paying the price for the racist behaviour of people in the past. Fundamentally, indeed, racism is deemed a worse crime than hair-colour-ism because of the attitudes and actions of previous generations, rather than any logical or inherent sin. We've even got to the stage where calling someone 'black' is racist: I've been (sort of) accused of racism because I described Morgan Freeman as 'a black dude'. Astonishing. The second of Mercer's crimes is similarly risible (I can't work out which is more so, in fact); he has spoken about some colleagues who use race as an excuse, presumably accusing of being racist anyone who criticises their lack of effort. There is no trace of racism here; Mercer is merely reporting what he has experienced, from certain individuals - actually, I think we all knew that some people, whether in the army or out, will use their minority status as a weapon. I saw it in the health centre the other day; a man was being rather rude to a receptionist, and trying to get her to tell him information that she wasn't allowed to see, and he wasn't allowed to get without going through the legal team. When she tried to point this out, his reponse was to say; "You're just going to say 'There was some black man in here'." This came out of nowhere, she hadn't suggested anything of the sort; but it worked. While he continued to be unreasonable, while playing the part of the victimised minority, she was clearly making sure that every single word she said couldn't be construed as insulting or disrespectful in any way. What Mercer was saying was that similar behaviour occurs in the army. Racist? Of course not. If anyone inferred that Mercer was tarring all black people with the same brush, then they are the racist ones, since they cannot distinguish between individuals and an entire group. All in all, an incredible storm in a teacup, but a dangerous sign for our government, and our society at large; I'm shamed and disappointed to say that the Time reported his comments along the lines "Mercer blast at 'incompetent' ethnic soldiers", and produced an editorial lambasting him. We need to stop allowing the sins of the past to cloud logic and sense today.
March 13th 2007
To keep you updated on my job prospects, I got an email today from Prudential telling me that I wasn't being selected to go forward in the application process - this after I'd emailed twice saying that I was withdrawing my application. There has been a suprising level of incompetence from most of the companies to which I applied, but Prudential comes out on top all round. Even on the website you selected the jobs for which you wanted to apply, and clicked 'add to cart' - very unprofessional. In cinematic news, I frequently tell anyone who'll listen that the three worst films I've ever seen at the cinema are
1. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
3. The Bourne Supremacy
However, if I desired it so, I rather think I'd be able to top them all by going to see Norbit, which appears to be the worst film ever made. I'm not going to waste space or vitriol by going into exactly how terrible it appears in every way (this from the trailer and plot outline), but perhaps here is a good spot to sound a note of pity for Eddie Murphy, who has clearly lost any wit he may have had. To think he almost won an Oscar just a few weeks ago. Speaking of current cinematic releases, there is a biopic of Jane Austen out at the moment, entitled 'Becoming Jane'. I'm not going to critique that film either (not having seen it), other than to ponder why there are so many (transitive) present participle films being made... I may have mentioned this before, but I will do so again. Finding Nemo, Finding Neverland, Being John Malkovich, Serving Sara, Hating Alison Ashley, Kissing Jessica Stein, Saving Private Ryan... it's not big, and it's not clever. Nor is it arty. Nor does there appear to be any reason for it: Austen is not, in fact, becoming Jane. She already is Jane. It's on the birth certificate. All her friends call her Jane. It's silly. Oh, and I know I said I wasn't going to critique the film, but I will a bit... from what I've seen, it rather appears that they've taken the whole 'Jane-got-her-inspiration-from-her-life' to such extremes that the entire film is basically Pride & Prejudice, with Jane as Lizzy. Maybe the reviews have been misleading, though.
March 15th 2007
The other day was a 10.25 evangelistic event that kinda merged into a social, which comprised of a quiz. Various members of the group wrote a round each, and I ended up with 'random' (not as in "lol... random!!!!:))", but as in general knowledge, more or less). As is typical, I thought I'd give you the questions here - I didn't think they were too hard, but I have to say that scores weren't high. Indeed, my teammate Larry, who answered this round tout seul (I spent at least ten minutes trying to find the correct spelling of this phrase - this one appears on Google enough to make me think it must be right, but it's not in my dictionary, nor is it included in any lists of French phrases commonly used in English. Very odd) managed to score a massive zero. There is a theme to the answers, which should make them easier to get:
1. Who is the only person to appear in both the Back to the Future trilogy and the Lord of the Rings trilogy?
2. What is the name of Snoopy's friend, the little yellow bird, in the Peanuts cartoons?
3. Who is the narrator in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights?
4. Which songwriter co-founded both Wizzard and Electric Light Orchestra?
5. Who captained Blackburn Rovers to Premiership victory in 1995?
6. Who directed Melinda and Melinda?
7. Who plays Susan Kinski in Neighbours?
8. In Sense and Sensibility, what is the name of the character who ends up marrying Edward Ferrars? [This is the one Mum labelled as 'too easy' - my 10.25 group probably wouldn't agree]
9. What Conservative MP is Member of Parliament for Wokingham?
10. Which Beatles song begins; 'I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me'?
March 17th 2007
Begorrah. Happy St. Patrick's Day. It's late and I'm tired, so you ain't going to get much here and now, but I thought I'd mention that I had my last ever lecture at Warwick Uni yesterday. Crazy. Introspect that, Jimmy. Went to a party at the house of some girls whose names I won't vouchsafe here, and just got back. It was a good evening, with plenty of prime number action.
I'm back, having had a good night's sleep. And I'm going to talk about sport (you can just about pinpoint the timing of this entry, in fact, by checking the relevant fixture times). I have just finished watching Ireland thrashing Italy 51-24 (although Italy's last seven points should have been avoided), which means that Ireland will win the Six Nations if France don't beat Scotland by 24 points or more. Unless England beat Wales by some hideously high amount, which is unlikely. So c'mon Scotland - try not to lose by too much! In other sporting news, I went to see Cov vs Wolves with Iain and Jon on Tuesday night, and - of course - it was the fixture that ended Wolves' six-game winning streak, as we lost 2-1. Which is better than 2-0, I guess (the result in the same fixture that I went to see last year), and the players were tired from having played only two days previously. Anyways, we're currently losing 1-0 away to Sheff Wed.
March 19th 2007
Hey kids. If any of you spot a flute on the number 12 bus, give me a bell will you? It's all rather perturbing, since I haven't left my flute on the bus since high school (or possibly even middle school)... I realised soon after getting off the bus, but it drove off as I ran back to it, and I failed to outsprint the thing to the next stop (the lack of other cars, and the luck of the traffic lights, worked against me). I've tracked down the details of the garage I have to check with, so I have every hope of getting it back (I got my wallet back after it fell out of my pocket while on the bus in my first year). Ho-hum. In other news, you've probably all been waiting for the answers to the themed 'random' (lol...seriuosly random!!!!:p!!!lol) quiz I posed a few days ago. Here you go:
1. Elijah Wood appeared in the Back to the Future trilogy and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, appearing as a kid in BttF2, saying "You have to use your hands? That's like a baby's toy."
2. Woodstock is Snoopy's friend.
3. Lockwood narrates Wuthering Heights.
4. Roy Wood co-founded both Wizzard and ELO.
5. Tim Sherwood captained Blackburn Rovers to Premiership victory.
6. Woody Allen directed Melinda and Melinda.
7. Jackie Woodburne plays Susan in Neighbours.
8. In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor Dashwood marries Edward Ferrars.
9. John Redwood is Member of Parliament for Wokingham.
10. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) begins; 'I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me'.
I'm sorry to report that, having phoned the lost property office for Travel Coventry, they say that there's been no flute handed in, and that means it's unlikely that it will be. Similarly, the centre in Coventry (where I hoped I may have left it before getting on the bus) to,d me it wasn't there. So my last (thin) hope is that someone's handed it in to the union or something. I'll check today - but I rather fear that's the last I'll see of my shiney flute. It seems somewhat out of place to report on the snow that fell (and settled) last night - it had all gone by this morning. Like so many things.
March 20th 2007
Usually a Monday night finds me at 10.25, studying the Bible (but no longer co-leading), which explains why I haven't been able to go ro rich's improv group a great deal. It's on a Monday night, you see. But because term has ended, I was able to go last night for only the second time, and it was great fun. To explain, improv stands for improvisation, and at shows they basically act out some comedy stuff, off the tops of their heads. That doesn't explain it properly, really, so wikipedia it. Anyhow, they have workshop-type things, which are kinda like rehearsing improv (I know, a confusing concept) on Monday nights. Yesterday the biggest thing we did was a retelling of a fairy tale, and after a few abortive attempts at Rapunzel, we went for Hansel & Gretel - for the technological age. I played Hansel (in my best little-boy voice) but due a lack of organisation, we didn't really have an end to the story (in fact, we also had very few scripted jokes - or indeed lines - in keeping with the improvisation theme). The story was thus; Devilish Declan is online, looking for a mail order bride... when filling in his personal details, he writes that he has no children [actually, Ian, who was playing this role, accidentally said 'loves children', which confused the story somewhat; but we carried on in a most professional manner], and has to remedy the situation by taking Hansel and Gretel out to the big city and chucking them out. All the while, they are engaged in a two-person search for a PS3. As they are in town, counting paving slabs under instruction from their father, a nice man (played by Ant) comes along, and tells them he's got lots of PS3s at home that he'd love to give them. To make sure they don't get lost, they leave a trail of non-HD TVs (a joke I put in that didn't get much of a laugh. One of the few that was in both rehearsal and performance)... at the man's house, it transpires that he's not going to give them any PS3s, but he is going to try and sell them on eBay - the kids discover this when they go to eBay to try and buy PS3s. Another couple of jokes I threw in - and I apologise that I'm only running through my lines, but I can't remember many of the others! - were; "I'll type... 'e'... where's the 'bay' key?" which Coady (spelling?) laughed at, but no one else, and "How do you spell PS3?" which is a bit of an old chestnut, and I stole it from Monsters Inc, but I like it and it got a reasonable laugh. When we discovered that there was a picture of us with a price, Gretel (I can't remember the name of the lass who played her) ad libbed "Most things that have prices are for sale!" to which I responded "Yeah, like sweets. Or peerages" which got possibly our biggest laugh, at least partially because of the character saying it, I think (a naive young child). Anyways, the story ran that Gretel put Ant ('hotguy231' was his character's name, I believe, although it was never mentioned) up as a mail order bride, or something, and that Declan accidentally bought him... but we kinda lost our way, totally missed out the scene where Hansel and Gretel retrace their steps, and it all fell a little flat at the end. Anyways, it was all good fun - the other sketches were Jack & The Beanstalk as a series of modern TV programmes (Bargain Hunt, Ground Force and X Factor, I think) and Jack & Jill at a stockbrokers. After all that, we did short adverts for things; Ian, Lee and I were selling gardens for submarines, and other products included the cigarette (as a solution to countless nicotine patches - genius), compensation claims for clowns, Lawyer Bang! and more. Again, ours could have done with some fine-tuning (and I didn't get to say my last line, because people were already applauding), but still good fun. Hopefully I'll be around for it next week.
March 23rd 2007
Back when this diary began, in late 2003, I soon learnt not to comment about other people's blogs. References to the respective scrawlings of Ben, James, Doug, and some girl (I can't for the life of me remember who) have resulted in hurt feelings and criticism to some degree or other, and I resolved not to do it any more. Of course, I've rather failed there, since I've commented about Simon's, Ant's, Rob's (causing him to close his blog down), Justin's (erroneously) and so on. Another reason that I don't frequently point you elsewhere is that I'm jealous; you're my readers, and I saw you first. But I'm older, my skin is a mite thicker, and I'm going to go once more into the breach, by mentioning Ant's latest entry, 22 March - or more specifically the film 'Me, Myself and I' that is associated. And not just so I can ponder, hilariously, whether i is his imaginary friend. Anyways, I think it's well worth downloading; he makes some good (and rather revealing) points on a theme that I've pondered myself on several occasions. Check it out. While I'm on this train of thought, Ant told me last night (and he phrased this differently) that I tend to get obsessed about things, rather than liking them to a moderate degree... now, it could be because our friendship has blossomed like the... well, blossom I guess... or (Dr. Cox voice) it could be because I told him. Specifically, I have written about my somewhat obsessive nature on this page before (and Becky pointed it out back in the first year), along with its various benefits and difficulties - falling in love, for example. Actually, the matter at hand when Ant mentioned it was rather more prosaic, but no less important; he suggested that the Mr. Men were nothing special, and that the new Mr. Men weren't much worse than the real Mr. Men. Apoplectic doesn't cover it, I'm afraid. In other news, Measure Theory is almost noted up - just got some proofs to write up. Then on to Groups & Reps. Gnight.
March 25th 2007
Today, apparently, is the day that the clocks change. Mine's still a clock so far. In other news, I'm not a particularly politically-minded person (I used to be a member of the Liberal Democrats) but I like to keep on top of things - this applies not only to politics, in fact; I like to have a working knowledge of what's going on, so that I can converse reasonably well on a variety of topics. Or, at the very least, make jokes about them. But I find that my political awareness is rather greater than that of many of my friends (Iain beats me here, and Jimmy Lee I'd expect, but they're in a minority). I have been conducting a small survey lately, by asking people if they know who the Shadow Chancellor is - so far everyone has said no. I then follow up by asking if they know what the Shadow Chancellor is - again, responses have not been in the affirmative. Now, the Shadow Chancellor is probably of supreme irrelevance to most people, but as I said, I like to know what's going on. So next time I see David Cameron with a bunch of kids, and say; "I wonder if he's looking for a new Shadow Chancellor!" (OK, this has never happened. Yet) I hope to be in the company of people who will clutch their sides with glee at such a brilliant jape. You see, he's 35 years old. Or, should I say, young. Anyways, that's enough politics for one day... well, kinda. I went to see Amazing Grace last night, the new film based on the life of William Wilberforce (and there's no real excuse if you don't know who he is) and I was pretty impressed; not sure how close to the truth it was, but I enjoyed it - and was moved by it. Nice to see a strong(ish) Christian message coming through, and the idea that Wilberforce needed the love of a good woman before he could help abolish slavery is one that I like, even if it's almost certainly untrue. A worthwhile film.
March 27th 2007
Today was a pretty feeble day for news, clearly, as the front page of the Times informed me that an American-style school bus system was going to be introduced over here (I first saw this story on Newsround two years ago, at least) and page three let me know that the Songs of Praise Easter show was filmed in November. Duplicitous. But I guess that, by reporting that, I've sunk one level lower in the news-reporting stakes. The truth is, there was something I wanted to say, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was... I'll pass the time by referring once more to Amazing Grace; having done a little Wikipedia work, I've discovered that the film was reasonably accurate - apparently Wilberforce and his lass did get engaged within a fortnight of meeting each other. Also, I didn't mention before that it was quite a humorous film, often getting laughs with some gentle, British humour, but never going for all-out comedy. And if anyone's worried about traumatising imagery, fear not, since you don't even see a slave (except briefly at the beginning) - I'm pretty confident the film got a U certificate, in fact. Anyways, I'm not going to remember what it was I wanted to write, so maybe it'll come up later. Otherwise, I'm sorry - you'll never know. To update you on revision, I'm halfway through my Intro to Topology notes... far too many pictures, not enough maths.
I have recollected what it was that I especially wanted to bring to your attention; June 1st this year is the 40th anniversary of the release of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. "It was forty years ago today" (I know, I know, the lyrics say 'twenty' - never mind), and I discovered via facebook that some chap called Tom Wales has decided to commemorate the occasion somehow; perhaps a live performance of the entire album. In fact, I discovered this because he posted a message on the I Love The Beatles facebook group - Sinead (of Montenegro trip fame) started this group up, and I was one of the first people to join... but then, for some reason, she left said group, and it was in want of an admin, so I took charge. Other than putting some photos up and writing a message telling people to join, I didn't really do much - at this point there were about a dozen or so members. Last count there are 56 (one dropped out this morning, it seems). Anyways, Tom advertised his forthcoming event on the group wall, so I made him admin of the group; in response, he made me admin of the event - so it looks like I'm helping to organise a Sgt Pepper's anniversary celebration. I've already offered my flute-playing skills (not necessarily my flute-keeping skills...).
Me again. A bit of a slack day for revision (although I did meet my goal of writing up Intro to Topology notes in two days, by some margin). In today's Times there are a few pages dedicated to the class system in Britain; if it's still important, how different classes are defined, and so forth. It's something I've been pondering myself of late, since I'm not altogether sure in which class I belong - to explain, I'm exceptionally confident that I'm middle class, and I'm proud of it, too. But what kind of middle class? Lower middle, middle middle, upper middle? In all honesty, I rather expect to fall between all three, since they're hardly well-defined, and it matters not anyhow. But indulge me. If you were to ask people round here, they'd probably place me in upper middle (or just say 'posh git') because I'm from the South, speak properly, have a wide vocabulary, read and get het up about grammatical error. On the other side of the coin, my brother has suggested that I'm lower middle (or at least wish to be) because I like football and dislike private schooling & Oxbridge. My favourite books include Agatha Christie's catalogue, and Lord of the Rings, which makes me lower middle - but I'm currently reading Richard III, which has got to push me up the rankings somewhere. I recently bought an 8CD set of classical music, but before it didn't own any; the Beatles and Bob Dylan are more working class than upper, but then that's true of all popular music. I read the Times, which puts me comfortably in the middle; I look down upon all other newspapers, which probably pushes me into upper middle. I'm at University, which seems to be the new definition for middle class, and Warwick seems to be quite a lower middle class Uni, with a high intake of state school students. All in all, it's rather confusing, and if it's true what both John Major and Tony Blair have said - we live in a classless society - then such pondering is worthless anyhow. But I don't think we do. Casting aside the above confusion over ranks of middle class, it is clear that some people are working class (or lower class, as we used to say), some are middle, and a small few are upper. I mean, think of a white teenage male with trousers so low you wonder how he doesn't fall over when walking, a baseball cap diligently bent, smoking, listening to tuneless music an iPod turned up to a deafening volume, swearing three or four times a sentence... you see my point. 'Chav' is the latest terminology, but chavs are very much a subset of the working class. Of course, all this class talk in the Times is a direct reaction to Ucas asking Uni applicants to say whether or not their parents went to University (my Dad studied maths at Imperial; my Mum went to teacher training college and completed a BAEd as a mature student), with the newspaper assertion that this defines them as middle class. At the root of Ucas's idea, I assume, is that kids who've achieved good grades despite their parents' obvious stupidity are more deserving than those who, by virtue of their parents' education thirty or so years previously, clearly had it easy. It all seems pretty silly... but then, perhaps this is misleading - after all, it has always been the natural assumption that my brother and I would go to Uni; not that we were forced to do so, by any means, but that any other path was pretty unthinkable. Now think about that chap I described above, the one with the funny cap and trousers. Nobody assumed he was going to University; in fact, it was pretty much definite that he'd do badly at school, hang out with his mates on the council estate, take drugs, and find himself a dead-end job with minimum wage. If he decides he'd rather go to Uni if he can, I suppose he probably does deserve a leg-up. Hmm.
March 28th 2007
I rambled a lot, yesterday, didn't I? Nothing new there. Congratulations are in order - indeed, they'll probably be in alphabetical order - as my brother nailed his interview yesterday, and got offered the job within hours. He's gonna be a librarian, it seems, in the Bodleian, which allegedly has a copy of every book ever published, or something. Although he'll also get to spend half his time in a Science Library of some kind, which will be very good for him, I'm sure. So it looks like both he and I will be off in the Big Wide World soon (although I'd quite like to have something in writing from AXA, sooner rather than later... it could have been anyone on the other end of the phone). Today is the slightly confusing beginning of revision proper, since I've summarised all the notes, and now have to start learning them, doing past papers (actually, I won't move onto past papers for a while yet), assignment questions... without a clear remit, it's a tad confusing, but I'll simply endeavour to do more or less what I did in the past two years. If only I could remember what that was...
March 31st 2007
I'm back in Zummerzet, which is a nice place to be. Of course, I'll be spending most of my time here revising/working (hopefully), but it's all good nonetheless. Actually, I took a day off revision yesterday, and spent some of it asleep anyhow. Today I plan to get cracking on the Problem Solving, so wish me luck - this does mean I won't be able to revise while I'm doing it, which may become an issue... revision-wise thus far I've covered a lot of ground with Measure Theory, and am feeling good about that. Groups & Reps, on the other hand, looks as difficult as anything Dmitriy is involved with, and I haven't looked at Modern Control Theory since the Christmas holidays, so that requires a lot of work. Still got over three weeks until the first set of exams, so I'm not panicking yet; the second set then come about four weeks after that. Then there's a three week break (during which I should be going to Cornwall to walk some of the coastal path with Dad) and I round it all of with Maths of Random Events, which is supposedly more or less a subset of Measure Theory. And then I'll be done.