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To sushi_e:

(I think I owe you a minor apology. I realised, as I walked home, that sitting facing a mirror does odd things to my head. Being able to see my face whilst I'm looking at somebody else's is somewhat disconcerting, especially when I realise that, as somebody once pointed out, I always seem to have my head cocked to one side. (Today it was the right. I have no idea if it is always the right, because I do not usually sit in front of mirrors when I talk. That said, I also sat in view of a mirror last time I was in that café, on Friday. It was on the wall to my right, and occasionally I would watch two identical buses appear to converge on one another outside the window, which was a little distracting.) If you noticed me occasionally shake my head minutely, or scrunch my eyes up momentarily, that was probably why.)

This leads me onto another thing that I noticed today: I am not very good at knowing what to do when I am listening to people talk. It's something I've observed before, but I forget about it quite a lot. On Thursday, my English class is going to see a production of Pinter's The Homecoming at the Almeida theatre. The Almeida organises, free of charge, workshops for schools groups before they see the play, and we had ours this morning. As a part of it, we acted out various scenes in pairs. The extract that I was given (which, for anyone who's familiar with the play, was dialogue between Max and Lenny in the first act, at night-time, just after Ruth has gone to bed) involved a number of fairly chunky monologues on either side. I enjoy acting, but I always feel the I'm very bad at reacting to what the other actors are saying on-stage as they say it. Do I just stand there woodenly, blankly? Do I over-exaggerate changing facial expressions, reacting to every thought? I'm never entirely sure which side I end up on. This rarely comes into play when I'm actually talking to a real person in a real conversation, unless it's a Conversation, in which case I tend to over analyse and thus over analyse my own internal reactions and then attempt to synthesise them. Like I said, it doesn't happen very often, and not really recently; but it does sometimes.

Which, of course, leads me onto what has happened recently. I finished my exams; have fretted about what I'm going to do about - and at - university, and whether I am taking a year out, and getting work-experience over the summer, and all sorts of serious-minded things. (As is probably obvious, I didn't get an offer from Oxford, sadly; but thank you all very much for your well-wishes. They were very much appreciated.) I saw charcoal_cloud before she left last weekend (can it only have been last weekend? Again, time is far more viscous than it ought to be) and went bowling with a number of people this Saturday. I've not been spending very much time on the internet recently, partly due to revision (my fingers just attempted to type religion, which is certainly a fascinating and somewhat bizarre Freudian slip) and partly because I somehow didn't feel like it. (I'll try to catch up on my flist; but if there's anything in particular you think I ought to read, please stick the link in a comment.)

On the other hand, I have been reading quite a number of books. I've decided not to try to keep an on-line record of my reading this year, but I have been keeping a paper one in a book journal that I was given at Christmas. (So far I've read sixteen books, all but one fiction, at an approximate average of a little under three hundred pages each. Four date from before the First World War; three were Scottish (with a further one almost counting because it was Rob Roy and written in parts in almost incomprehensible phonetic Jacobian Scots); two were plays (one of which actually contained three plays, just to be confusing) and a number of them were exceptional.) I need to update it, actually. Otherwise I will forget.

(Predictably, I'm not doing nearly so well with my paper journal. Ah well.)

MMVIII

I don't usually look at life in months. Months seem very arbitrary units of time, all told; lunar cycles make a rather satisfying amount of sense, but a month is simply a measurement of habit and convenience.

For me, time is either regarded as a constant stream of events with no easily determined end-point or starting-point - whenever I tell stories I'll end up hopping further and further back to find a beginning - or a series of fragments; it's never regarded as coming in discrete segments, like chocolate or fruit or centipedes. My memory is poor enough that I can't look at a year as a yea unless it's structured around school, so looking at it as January-to-January and trying to quantify or qualify it as a year is very difficult. In January of last year (last year? It still isn't last year for me yet, in a similar way to it not being Saturday for me yet until after I've gone to sleep, or after the sun has come up; call me a purist or old fashioned if you wish, whichever you prefer) I was still sixteen, having just started A-levels, enjoying it; still going out with Helen, and enjoying it; reading rather a lot and attempting to document it (which petered out somewhat; I plan to continue this year on paper, and see if that helps - that would be a way of remembering my year). I suppose that I was happier, in a way - there was certainly more happiness floating around than there is at the moment - but at the same time I was probably less confident in my own skin as who I am, although arguably probably more comfortable. I suppose life was less complicated.

Last year I spent New Years Eve (so technically, I suppose, it was the year before last) at Caroline's: I met Ben and Leo and some of her other debating friends whose names I don't really remember and observed some rather surprised expressions on peoples' faces come the chimes of midnight; other recollections include the vast amount of alcohol that was consumed (there was, if I recall correctly, a grand total of four cans of beer and a bottle or two of champagne between at least a dozen of us), slipping outside for a somewhat romantic and rather cold walk in what turned out to be a rather muddy field in the moonlight, sitting on the wall with Helen until her Dad turned up to pick her up and then staying outside until Caroline's parents returned because she refused to let me back inside the house and thinking that a small painting in Caroline's living room of a person in Wellington boots and a macintosh with a bicycle was really rather fantastic. I spent five days skiing in France in February with my family, which involved lots of bad weather, adventures with snow chains, impersonating a polyglot and reading Small Gods, Les Miserables and Walking on Glass, amongst other things. (See; I told you that a list of the books I'd read would be a good way to remember my year. This is one that I can actually check, and it turns out that the other book that I read was How the Dead Live by Will Self, and that the holiday was probably six days. But I digress.) At midnight on my birthday I went driving with my father for the first time. I can't remember than much between then and, say, June or May, without having to look things up or have my memory jolted by visual or verbal aims.

I did a large number of things for the first time this year (a list included but not being limited to giving blood, learning to drive, entering competitions, drinking approximately significant amounts of alcohol, bartering, and going on holiday without an adult present) and did many things that I had done before again. I met a lot of new people - most notably, I think, safebox, zoecb, charrr, amy_chang_12, taskiira, poemy_boy, my_show et al, who seemed to adopt me over the summer (mostly in the absence of purplefringe and [Bad username: ,], faeriemaiden, ressie_noldo, avendya, shorelle, bruadar, builtofsorrow. Despite this it's probably the year in which I've felt loneliest, which I think can be partly explained by breaking up with Helen and almost an entire friends group scattering across the country like leaves blown in a very indecisive mood - Cambridge, Oxford, York, Southampton, Sheffield, Nottingham - but also partially by growing up and realising how very small I am in this very large world.

I make it sound like it wasn't such a fantastic year, and maybe in some ways it wasn't, but in some other ways it was. I failed in a number of things, but I succeeded in a number of others, and among the way I discovered how wonderful many of the people in my life are. (Particular and especial thanks go to Caroline and and purplefringe for help when I needed it the most, but they were by no means the only ones who deserve thanks: you all know who you are, and you are wonderful.) At the moment it seems very much to have been an indent, an interlude, almost (an interlife, if I want to be pretentious and to quote myself) but that's a little unfair. There was a lot of fun and fantasticity: visiting Sarah in Oxford, Foyle's, Switzerland and impromptu barbecues all spring to mind, and again I'm sure there could be many more things if I thought about it for a while.

Internally, I think I've grown up a little, too: rough edges smoothed a little by the tide, sharp corners rounded off, abrasions worn away. I suffer fools with far more grace that I once used to, and perhaps have a healthier attitude towards relationships and towards misfortune (although I hasten to point out that that doesn't mean that I equate the two. At all. In any way). I am, I hope, a little bit less arrogant and little less complacent. I am certainly far less set in my ways.

That was an interesting aside, and although a predictable one it was entirely unintentional: I was actually planning on talking about December, in an abstract way, as a unit, as a discrete whole, because my 'interesting and unexpected week' grew from a week to ten days to a fortnight and then never really stopped. It certainly was very unexpected in certain respects (although certain of those certain respects, it could be argued, could, from another perspective, be seen as fairly inevitable and a logical and almost inescapable consequence of certain circumstances that occurred; but that is neither here nor there) and (with the exception of a family holiday to Rutland, Britain's smallest county, from which I escaped a day early on principle and the monotony of which was broken only by a visit by Sarah and Co., twisting my ankle such that I walked for several days with a really rather distinguished limp, several games of squash (before the twisting of my ankle), the rather disappointing Doctor Who special, Emma Thompson's eyebrows in the rather excellent (if somewhat embarrassing) Ballet Shoes, tutoring my grandmother in counter-terrorism techniques how to subdue sudoku of the Killer variety generally by wrassling them to the ground and beating them with sticks, although in certain extenuating circumstances the use of a specially reinforced cheese-grater is also permissible, communicating with various nefarious individuals by text, writing an appalling but functioning villanelle and daydreaming profusely) was certainly rather eventful. I was taught pool (or snooker) by a bloke called Dave; discovered the poetry of John Berryman; had a conversation with my sister and three of her friends (all of whom I had met briefly before, on the last occasion of which one of whom had revealed to me something that she immediately requested I not repeat on meeting me for a second time and one of whom had been impressively rude and had almost prompted me to lose my cool and upbraid her on her despicable behaviour (which my mother then did after I had left) and one of whom is the younger sister of a school-fellow of mine) that I had never particularly imagined having even with my sister that was surprisingly un-awkward on both sides (although I did at one point remove myself from the room so that certain issues could be clarified with the minimum of embarrassment); received a rather wonderful e-mail that I shall certainly come back to in the future; went to a Hamlet conference in London, because I am that cool, and actually made notes; went to see Bloc Party live with Remily and pleezpleezme; went to a school carol service for the first time ever, and enjoyed it; discovered that my father owned a fob-watch which he used to wear to work every day; received a history of the Wellington Boot as a Secret Santa present; managed to get glitter adhering to so much of my available surface area at and preparing for safebox's sparkly shindig that I am still finding it all over my house (and, as I have been singularly unable to remove it from the inside of my hat, all over my hair as well, although that does not explain the occasional instances of glitter in my beard. I should probably change my pillow.); sort of technically cheated on train-tickets (although all I did was get off the train that I had paid to be on and then get back on it a while later, because I was passing and I could do); receiving the two most fantastic Christmas cards I have received in my whole life (thank you catgryph and builtofsorrow!) had delicious tea and cake at amy_chang_12's house; discovered Spider both Solitaire and that a passing acquaintance of mine at school is also a passing acquaintance of mine from somewhere else some years previously, although mysteriously and confusingly now going by a different name; drove a brand spanking new car home from a garage (which was awesome. So very awesome. And so much more awesome than the old car. And so very unexpected. And so awesome); and spent a thoroughly enjoyable New Years Eve at the home of charcoal_cloud, in the company of many marvellous people, wearing the most fantastic waistcoat that anybody has ever seen.

So that was my December. I have, of course, omitted a number of occurrences, instances and happenings, as one will inevitably do when attempting to concertina thirty-one days into a manageable paragraph or so, but the above will certainly serve as a montage of edited highlights, perhaps to be revisited and expanded upon at a later date.

Thus far my January has involved the following: Torchwood Episode 1, an early start, tidying up, suffering fools with grace, reading the Jonathan Carroll book that locowerewolf bought me, watching Muppet Treasure Island under duress with pleezpleezme, listening to some wonderful music given to me by said person (which is wonderful and who is also wonderful, respectively), reading Treasure Island because it is awesome travelling by bus to W___________ to rave it up and then coming back early to do some work and spending a lovely evening with my parents and my sister and purplefringe and her mother.

This seems to be a promising start.

Public service announcement, I suppose

I'm off to Oxford for interview - well, later today, really; it's just gone midnight.

Wish me luck?

How many days did this take to type?

Some eljay entries are like novels. This is going to be like a collection of short stories, with news buried somewhere in there to keep people paying attention. You have been warned.

*

Gmail adverts often amuse me. However, this one, accompanying a recent notification of a comment from frayer, takes the biscuit a little:

You WILL experience the Ninja Burger difference!
Ninja Burger. Guaranteed delivery in 30 minutes or less or we commit ...

Need I say more?

~

Some linkspam:

-'Anthropodermic bibliopegy'!.

-'Children dancing in the street! Grown men reading storybooks to kids - for no apparent reason!'

-"I thought I had come across every perversion known to mankind, but this is a new one on me. I have never heard of a 'cycle-sexualist'." and the follow up, with a rather amusing and disturbing list.

-The good terrorists. No, really: Guerrilla clockmakers fix famous Paris clock.

-Also, a rather amusing take on genetic differences between the sexes. I laughed, anyway...

+

I don't have any more full weeks of school before we break up for Christmas. This Monday is an INSET day, during which I will be with safebox which will be awesome, and then the next Monday and Tuesday (and possibly Wednesday and also the preceding Sunday) will be spent having interviews a free holiday in Oxford courtesy of Magdalene College, and then the week after I break up on Wednesday, so it's all good. I also effectively have a day off on the Friday beforehand because my English set are going to a Hamlet conference because we are that cool (at which I will no doubt be tempted to advance my crazy theories) and after which I am going to go and see Bloc Party with Remily (both halves) and [Unknown LJ tag], which should be awesome. So yeah. Pretty excited. :D

#

Speaking of seeing things with Remily, last Wednesday I went to see Good Shoes with Emily. The music was rather good: Good Shoes were good fun and the first supporting act made me laugh because they were a bit mad and had a song called 'I love you better when you're naked' which is really going to embarrass the singer's kids when she's twenty years older; however, the second support act sort of stole the show. Operator Please not only had a female singer whose voice was actually pretty good when she used it and a violin (which was awesome; I love inappropriate musical instruments in rock bands) but also had a keyboard player. This in itself was not particularly special, but their keyboard player was awesome. She was always moving and danced in a silly and endearing way that tended to look either like she was falling over whilst running whilst standing still or was trying to dance whilst impersonating a penguin and was generally incredibly, incredibly cute.

Seeing bands live is always fascinating, music aside, because I peoplewatch; not only at the people in the crowd, who can be a bit odd (like the guy who came up and talked to me between the bands, who was an okay guy but a little bit odd - anyone who approaches a complete stranger by commenting that 'It's a bit of a sausage-fest around here, isn't it mate?' when there's narry a hotdog in sight is an interesting character in my book) but also the musicians themselves. I just love the variations in body-language - the laid-back bassist, the frenetic front man, the crazy Norwegian singer (and yes the gorgeously cute keyboard player - shh). The variations are endless, and endlessly interesting. But then I'm weird like that.

It was also lovely, however, because it meant that I spent time with Emily by herself, which doesn't happen very often. Remily are a very couply couple when they're together, and operate in tandem, and though I see Robbie in isolation at school I don't tend to see Emily sans Rob desperately often. I'm also fairly rubbish at communicating not in person, so when I phoned her a couple of nights beforehand we ended up having a good old chinwag, which was really rather unexpectedly lovely. We ended up going and having supper together before the gig and were very civilised and gossiped unmitigatedly about our mutual friends.

Before that, however, I had skived off Games entirely legitimately to go and see Glengarry Glen Ross with the English department. It was an incredibly good production, and the sets and acting were fantastic, although the ending left me with a sense that there was a third act that had been entirely omitted. The play didn't just lack resolution, it lacked clues as to why it lacked a resolution, and I didn't really know what to make of it other than very good entertainment and portrayal. Enjoyed it, though. Afterwards I bimbled around with Johny for a wwhile and he Showed me London

?

I went to see Bill Bailey on Friday evening with a bunch of people mostly from school, and enjoyed it a lot, although I do have some reservations in that a lot of the laughs were manufactured by his habit of amusing with a kind of open-mouthed smirk after certain quips as if to say 'I'm Bill Bailey and I'm funny, so laugh'. That said, he was mostly very funny, and zoecb, who was also there, somehow managed to read my mind and list the things that I liked most so I can be lazy and just link rather than remember. Mwuahahaha.

@

What else? I'm sure there are other things. Went to Milton Keynes and saw Sarah-who-does-Physics-at-Oxford's family, and felt very strange seeing them but not her; went to Wendover with pleezpleezme to see David and his sister, which was fun; went to pleezpleezme's party on Saturday, which involved many hats, and then went to Sheffiled to see safebox which was marvellous and involved rain and supertrams and lifts and Fivey and Firefly and voice-controlled Daleks and cheese-and-mayo sandwiches and failing a pub quiz and ressie_noldo at bizarre hours in the morning and zombies and shenanigans with trains and more cups of tea than I have ever consumed in a single day in my entire life. Also, I've since had the begining of hannukah and some very successful squash and listened to The Chimes of Midnight which is existentialist and quantummy and class-angsty and architectural and awesome. And that is that.
Today I left school at the perfect time, which was quarter to four. This has, really fairly improbable for a whole bunch of reasons: my school officially ends at four; I have a lesson until four on a Thursday; I am not predisposed to skive gratuitously; I am even less disposed to skive off English lessons. It becomes somewhat less surprising superficially when it becomes known that my English teacher was not in school this afternoon, but even more surprising when you factor in the knowledge that not only does the last lesson of the day start at twenty past three rather but that I had a double free period between lunch and English; there was nothing stopping me from going home after about five past two.

Things become clear once I mention that my free period (and indeed my English lesson) were in the library; the reason that I left school at quarter to four was because quarter to four was the time at which I finished the collection of plays by Tom Stoppard that I was reading in preference to doing any actual work. (In my defence, he mixes boys school drama and Shakespeare and police states and Wittgenstein together all in one - or possibly two, depending on how you want to talk about them - play(s) so it wasn't as if I had a choice about reading, really, was it?)

The reason that this was the perfect time to leave school was that it meant that I bumped into Alex and a mutual acquaintance and former school-fellow of ours at the bottom of the hill and ended up conversing with them both. Thematically it was quite an interesting mix, really, and it would make a very pretty Venn diagram: two of us were involved in pretending to be soldiers on a regular basis, two of us wore glasses, two of us were incredibly and authentically stereotypically English; two of us have gained a certain amount of notoriety in certain circles for writing certain ill-advised or ill-advisedly publicised articles of literature; and I had had fallings-out with both other parties at one time or other in the past that have since been rectified or ignored depending on which individual. The aforementioned mutual acquaintance and former school fellow, when he was at our school, was always a little bit of a caricature, but I was a little bit shocked today by how much he had come to resemble a sort of stock figure: shambolic, plum-voiced, a little pompous, a little self-absorbed, holding unpopular, old-fashioned opinions and, underneath it all, wrapped up in a cauldron of bitterness, resentment and vitriol. I've known him, on and off, for the better part of half a dozen years and remember him when he was eleven, and it makes a little part of me very sad that the way he is now doesn't really shock me at all. That's growing up, I suppose.

This doesn't make it sound at all like the perfect time to leave school, but I did enjoy seeing him again despite all of the above and had a rather enjoyable conversation. It was not, however, as enjoyable as the conversation that I had with Alex on the rest of the way home about many things and many people, leading to this:

(Alex having already complained about his toes freezing immediately preceding our parting from our mutual friend, and my having remarked that had he polished his shoes more recently he would be marginally less likely to get frostbite, and the conversation having moved on to other topics for some time, and Alex having returned to complaining about the temperature:)

Me: Would you like to borrow another scarf?
Alex: I've already got six.
Me: I meant now. You're freezing. Look at you.
Alex: I'm fine.
Me: [grasping the hem of his jacket] You know what you need? A proper winter jacket. Look at this.
Alex: I saw a wonderful winter coat yesterday, but it was a hundred and sixty pounds...
Me: For God's sake, just borrow one or something. I'm sure I've got a ski-jacket that would fit you.
Alex: [instantly] No! It's got to look nice!
Me: Do you know what doesn't look nice? Frostbite. Terrible for coordinating your accessories. First your extremities go red, then they go white, then they go blue, then they go black, and then they shrivel and rot and
fall off. That doesn't look very nice.
Alex: I haven't got frostbite. I've done Kilimanjaro. I can deal with cold.
Me: Your ears are already red...
Alex: They're always red.
Me: Alex, if your ears were any redder they'd burst under the pressure of the sheer volume of blood being forced into their capillaries in an attempt to keep them warm. That would be messy, and would not look nice.

[here is a hiatus, in which things were mentioned by Alex and frayer was quoted by me, and the euphemism 'changing one's cricketing loyalties' was deployed. A while later:]

Alex: Anyway. My hands don't feel too bad, now.
Me: That's because you're going into shock.



Yes, I am boring merciless. Yes, my coat is awesome. Yes, also, I was wearing two pairs of socks.

(You really needed to know this, didn't you?)

Anyway. We generally had a rather fun time teasing one-another, and talking tangentially about Stuff in a relaxed and carefree manner, which was rather nice, really (and led me to realise, suddenly, that actually I am fairly happy again, really, and content with my lot, by and large, and that generally Life is Good) and then he picked up the Hard-Fi CD that he lent my sister for her art project and we discussed the sins and failings of Mr Walker (which shall be enumerated below, never fear!) for a while until he left to warm up and do some work.

Alex and I have had some rather amusing conversations of late, from him advancing a hypothesis as to why I tend to not be in evidence until quarter past eight in the mornings and often look somewhat rumpled to, having a discussion that lead from coursework in general to coursework in specific (my English coursework) and my epigraph (the first nine lines of Philip Larkin's High Windows - I'm writing about Brave New World and the Culture and frankly would love to quote the entire poem) and the fact that I seemed to have an unwholesome love for Philip Larkin, which lead necessarily (as we go to a boys' school) to litslash, to which I responded in opposition that Larkin was an (a.) grumpy (b.) old (c.) man and that (d.) he was also dead, which lead to Alex saying 'Ah, well, necrophilia - it's all good, isn't it?' and my having to reply in rather amused indignation and scandalisation that no it was not in fact good even in parts. Frankly, I'm just glad that he's never heard me waxing lyrical about Eliot...

Alex and I used to be very good friends, before the age of eleven; he was The Boy Over The Road, and everything was idyllic. We walked to school together for two and a half years and killed our friendship, because we were both sanctimonious little bastards in our own little ways and weren't big enough to cope with one another's egos and we had our little falling out and didn't really speak to one another again until a little under a year ago, when we went to see Coram Boy with the English department and realised that there wasn't a good reason not to talk to one another any more. The fact that we've both matured to the point at which we can rip it out of one another entirely accurately in the time-honoured male-bonding tradition is just really rather nice.

This post wasn't supposed to be about childhood friendships and what happens to them; it was supposed to be about Things That I Have Recently Done, or at least about my giving blood again and going to three parties. The blood-giving was fairly uneventful, really; I didn't, alas, have my patented 'vampire overlords' badge, and even more alas-worthy, I was made to put my book down, but I was able to observe that not only does it seem impossible for every single lightbulb in G1 to be operational at once (which, given that the ceiling is double the usual distance from the floor, must be a little inconvenient) but that there are, for some reason, spare mains sockets on said ceiling (the mind boggles) and also to tease Dr Pines about being causing a hassle (he's a lovely, lovely man, and more about him later) and chat up have a lovely conversation with one of the nurses.

So that's the leeching covered.

The parties were all rather different. The first was Remily's Couples' Party, the antecedent causes of which were roughly as follows: Robbie and Emily (Remily) are accused of acting like a married couple, and therefore decide to throw a dinner party, hardly helping their case, and demand that we dress up smart and turn up at Robbie's house in order to be fed a sumptuous meal, which is what happens (although I am slightly worried that Robbie will accuse me of looking like a tramp in a suit until I arrive and discover that Robbie too is somewhat scruffy-looking about the face and cannot comment as his scruff is (a.) fluffy and (b.) ginger). A lovely time is had pretending to be all grown up etcetera.

(The other things that need to be mentioned for the sake of full disclosure are that 1) it was one of the few occasions on which I attempted to downplay the whole writing things thing and was thwarted and that 2) although it was a couples' party there were only three official couples, which led to Lucia and Sasha and Joe and I coupling up on paper to great hilarity and that 3) there were fireworks. That is all.)

The second party was Helen's. To go into it fully would take a lot more room than I have time to give it, so I shall leave it at this: it is nice that Helen and I are getting on properly now, I was pretty much gang-hugged as I entered, it was fantastic to see Mihalis again (oddly enough, his friendship with me hit off as a direct result of Alex and I falling out), it was likewise nice to see Laura again, it was amusing that I completely failed to recognise Phil (who had short ginger hair when I saw him last and now looks like Slash with a facial piercing), advocat and lemonade tastes like lemon meringue pie, all_my_words hugs me a lot when she's drunk and is generally lovely, and it was very nice not to be drunk and to sit at the top of the stairs with Caroline and Tianyan and have conversations. Twas a lovely evening.

The third party was a fancy dress party, and the theme was 'things beginning with R'. This lead, in a rather roundabout way, to my having a conversation with my headmaster in Argos and pleezpleezme's boyfriend attempting to sell me a ukulele. More directly, however, it involved me taking apart a radio and duct-taping it to a dressing-up-box hat in order to go to the party as Radiohead because with an intellectual laziness that bordered on the counter-intuitive I decided that I would go to the party as the first thing that popped into my head that began with R and then had to work out a method of doing so that didn't involve cloning myself to be four people or having plastic surgery. Other costumes included Ringo Star, two Russians, a Rockabilly, Ridley Scott, Retro, two Rudolphs, Rupert the Bear, a Royal Navy Warrant Officer, a Rolling Stone, Roger Moore and enough Rugby players to contemplate being able to have an impromptu game of Rugby sevens with a sub or so each side. I had a rather wonderful time in a somewhat different way and avoided making too much of a fool of myself, mostly. (I blame it all on something else beginning with R, favoured by pirates. Don't do it, kids, although comedy certainly does ensue, especially when chasing people around the garden and discovering that they have disappeared behind the garage into thin air instead of falling into your cunning trap like they were supposed to.)

The week prior to the parties was mostly taken up with writing an essay for Oxford, which the lovely Dr Pines marked and gave back to me in under twenty-four hours in order for me to get it sent off in time (although meine_kleine sent hers later than me). Most of this Monday morning (or at least, half an hour) was taken up with Mr Walker being insufferably smug whilst telling us off and wasting our time in his lesson, git that he is.

I shall finish this entry by remarking on the fact that in the past two days I have found two people on Facebook that I knew in other lives and by giving you a link to the steampunk iSkin, because there are some things that you cannot live without.
This post has been a while in the making. For the last three or four or five days I have sat down at the computer and said 'I'm going to update my eljay!' and then other things have got in the way. Specifically, mostly, an essay that I've now given in to be marked so that I can send it off to Oxford. It'll form the majority of my philosophy coursework in addition to hopefully making the tutors of Magdalen want to have my existentialist babies, so although it's been a lot of hassle getting it done it'll be a lot less hassle later, which given that I will have two other pieces of coursework to do as well in the next six weeks is probably rather good thing. Yes.

Anyway. A retrospective:

Half term was odd, for a number of reasons. The first week was spent doing very little, really, with a few exceptional incidents in which I saw Stardust, got lost, discovered that there is a sheep named Eat More Bacon, made strategic cups of tea, entertained a five year old for half a day, encountered what I can only assume was actually cider made from bananas and walked home through St Albans at the dead of night moving very carefully so that my coat did not shout 'Exterminate!' at members of the public in a Dalek voice. Trufax.

Much of the second week, as many of you may have guessed, took place in Villiers Park, in Foxton, near Cambridge. This was the aforsaidmentioned Creative Writing course, which was really rather wonderful. I learnt how not to be afraid of formal verse, saw a play, wrote an award-winning sitcom pitch set in a funeral parlour and had people say lovely things about my poetry, which is always nice. (Other things occurred too, of course, including introspection and some mad people and tea and the discovery of coffee. Apparently, coffee is always in the bigger jug at these sorts of events. Now you know. Then I went to Cambridge (which was only one stop further) and met up with purplefringe and bought an awesome hat and trolled around a little bit and bumped into a certain David Tennant look-alike and went back to her awesome awesome room (which is wonderful) and listened to music and drank tea (and she introduced me to drinking tea through Kitkats, which I had never done and must now repeat when I have sourced some suitable Kitkats) and talked about Life and Things, etcetera, and committed ourselves to going to Cambridge and buying pocket watches.

(If you haven't noticed, purplefringe is awesome. I am very jealous of her university life. In fact, I am very jealous of everybody's university lives, so I should visit them all and then I could be jealous of them too.)

Eventually, alas, I had to leave, and so I did, and managed to not get lost on my way back to the station, and overheard someone saying 'And she had a friend who's a Catholic porn star', which perplexes me somewhat, and phoned people who were at fireworks and then went and got on a train home and sat and underlined things lightly in my copy of Player of Games.

Other things occurred, naturally, and further happenings ensued over the weekend, but right now I ought to go and find Brave New World Revisited and brush my teeth and read a chapter or two of Oliver Twist and go to sleep (in that order) and stop listing things.
I'm currently in Foxton, near Cambridge, being writerly. (Currently I'm not being writerly; currently I'm being journally, being Facebooky and in fact most of all being hungry because I have another five minutes before breakfast and didn't want to start my day with chocolate because thast would be setting a terrible though tasty precedent.) Due to the Changing of the Clocks (a quaint little British tradition not entirely dissimilar to the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, although there are some ways by which a practised observer can tell them apart) I ended up getting up rather earlier than was strictly necessary this morning, which lead me to bimble around the rather lovely grounds listening to Sarah Slean sing about Eliot and Torri Amos sing about Wednesday (no connection other than the fact that they are very pretty songs and fitted my mood) and making me feet rather damp with the early morning dew.

I would write more but it is now time for BREAKFAST and as I am aforsaidmentionedly VERY HUNGRY I shall now procceed to go and devour the whole lot. Mwuahahaha!
I would like to say at this juncture, that I really rather like my new coat. It is warm and smart-looking and black and has an awesome red lining, and whilst wearing it I have been described as looking like a.) a butler, b.) a PI, c.) a GP and d.) an undertaker (although not, as of yet, e.) a goose). I also have a new scarf, because I decided that my new coat needed one, and therefore deputised pleezpleezme as my wardrobe consultant because I have very little taste and she and I happened to have some time to kill near some shops before the film started, and it is known as the snazzyscarf because it is snazzy.

(This is the point at which this post branches off into three simultaneous paragraphs. Paragraph option i. is the paragraph in which I talk about the fact that I have had a new and relatively radical haircut which a good twenty or thirty percent of my acquaintances have commented on immediately upon seeing, including anthon1stalker. Reactions are mostly good, and almost entirely a little bit shocked, because I now look rather kempt and I previously looked almost impeccably unkempt. (Now that I'm used to it, I now no longer look at myself in a mirror and feel that I look fourteen, which is nice. The only other thing that I would also say about my haircut would be that the main dissenting voice has been stripyglove, because, she says, I 'don't look like a mad writer poet person any more' which is certainly regrettable and possibly a bad career move re. Thursday, but probably not really that much of an issue in that department.)

Paragraph ii. involves my talking about the fact that pleezpleezme and I seem to have been going to all sorts of awesome cultural type things recently, because we went to see Atonement on Wednesday (which was good, I thought, but suffered a little from my having read the book) and went to see Aisle 16 the week before and are going to this thing on Thursday as well. Evidently we are civilised and cultured people with a shared passion for words who aren't pretentious at all.

Paragraph iii. is the paragraph that I can't actually remember. Probably it was going to be talking about the fact that my parents are insisting that I sew name labels on my snazzyscarf and coat, as if I were six. Pah. Name labels.)

I would like to apologise for the cryptic emo outburst at the end of my last post, and for the other thing that I have already apologised to the individual in question about, and to the various people that I have angsted on recently. As of late I do not seem to have been a desperately happy bunny, for which I can't really apologise but will do anyway. I blame society, and more specifically the stresses thereof, and also the weather and the fact that I am probably not getting enough sleep. (This is because I keep on waking up at silly times for no apparent reason. Not because I keep on posting on my journal at marginally less silly hours. Not that at all.)

Anyway, I shall try to avoid such emotasticity in the future, and if it is unavoidable I shall attempt to be less cryptic.

I had a truly lovely afternoon with Caroline on Friday. Waffles were consumed, although in a different location to the one that I am usually accustomed to consuming waffles in. Things were talked about, which included the Spanish Civil War and pubs (at which we are rubbish) and the fact that I am bad at navigating and various other sundry items of lesser or greater note. Also, we encountered an Alexei, which was unexpected and rather wonderful, and Caroline flicked a lot of water at me with somebody else's umbrella. Also, her dad is cool, and American cars now make a lot more sense to me.

Surreal incidents

I had a very interesting post thought up to use in my continuing campaign to prove that I am not dead, but I seem to have forgotten what it was. Amnesia is probably not helping my case.

Last night I had a dream in which I realised why people had a sense of humour, or rather in which I kept on repeating a simple sentence that explained said attribute. I also dreamt that I should communicate this sentence to pleezpleezme. Not being able to remember what this sentence actually was is probably not very helpful. However, this is possibly balanced out by the fact that upon hearing this one of my friends said 'That's so very Anto, that is. Having a dream about the fundamental nature of humanity.' This made me laugh.

The Caecilius news made me full of immense and nerdy squee. Other amusing news today involved my home town's position on that most influential document of economic cartography, viz. the new Monopoly board. I accidentally saw the award ceremony (and also charr and poemy_boy) and there was a giant dog. And scary larger than life puppets with hands bigger than my head and staring faces and people I knew trapped inside. And a pint-sized Roman legion.

Also, I no longer look like a mad scientist at all. This is a continuation of my reversal of the space-time continuum, through which method I have reverted from looking approximately twenty-five to looking approximately fourteen.

Today I had supper with a thunderbird, who has promised to take me shopping for clothes. Also, I started reading Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy and ate aubergine.

It rained today.

I have a new coat.

Also,


Dear Brain,

I wonder who is going to get to say 'I told you so'?
I don't seem to be doing a very good job of proving that I am not dead. Four out of seven people refuse to accept it: purplefringe and wanderlight are merely unconvinced by my claims, whilst meine_kleine and lil_monk are both convinced that I am in fact undead (is it something about the underscore?). Of the remaining four people in my sample thus far, one of them has (affectionately, I shall presume, for the sake of my health) called me a loser, one has expressed unalloyed positive sentiments and one has complained bitterly about the fact that she has obviously hired the wrong hit-man.

It seems, however, that my very unconscious is also trying to contradict me, if perhaps only retroactively. On Thursday night (or probably Friday morning, technically) I had an ever-so-slightly disturbing dream. It was curiously precise and rather short: I dreamt that an old man (who was elderly but by no means frail; gnarled and weatherbeaten like old oak, or like teak furniture that has been left out in the garden for many years) came up to me, announced that his name was Erich Fromm and said something about 'the office of Barbara Zeeland', although I cannot recall if he announced that that was where he was from or whether he asked if that was where he was.

Then he shot me with a revolver, and I woke up.

(Erich Fromm, it turns out, was a psycho-analyst and social philosopher of some not inconsiderable renown. Barbara Zeeland, on the other hand, though somewhat familiar, does not seem to have been a historical of fictional personage of note.)

It wasn't quite a nightmare, because at no point did I feel a sense of dread or terror or even particular discomfort. It was simply a shock to the system; it was the first dream that I've ever had in which I died (or at least, suffered any kind of significant medical trauma; this idea of having died is a retrospective presumption) and also the first I've had that caused me to physically jerk awake. The fact that I still recall two days afterwards that the man who shot me was called Erich with an 'h' is also a rather unusual feature.

However, I am not dead.

How, then, do I explain my prolonged absence? Partly it was geographical: after returning from Switzerland I went Up North (first to Durham by way of Beverly in Yorkshire during which interlude I found the Humber bridge on a grey day hauntingly beautiful and then on to Bamburgh) and then returned home. Quite what I did in the indeterminate time between my return and the start of school I cannot recall - several incidents stand out, and certainly nothing happened that would cause amnesia, but the time seems a little bit of a blur - but eventually the holidays ended and go back to school I did. School started wonderfully and has, in the main, gone downhill from there: the one exception to this bathetic descent into the real world has been the form for which I am a prefect, because they really are rather wonderful.

There are some other things of note, but they shall be talked about at other times. Right now I should do some work.

Coiled Azilarine

Curiously deep, the slumber of crimson thoughts:
While breathless, in stodgy viridian
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.


(John Hollander, for Noam Chomsky)

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