Monday, 5 May 2008

Summer in the city, cleavage cleavage cleavage...

In Cambridge, this Bank Holiday:

1. On Sunday morning, upstairs in Caffe Nero, two small boys, aged about ten, were sitting at a table - waiting for their parents to come upstairs, we guessed. But rather than talk about whatever it is small boys talk it these days, one started to hold forth on The Evils of the Modern World As Illustrated By The Coffee Society. It were EXCELLENT.

Small Boy 1: And then it's ridiculous, right, because people's social lives revolve around coffee - and they don't even like it!
Small Boy 2: ...
SB 1: You say, let's go for coffee, and you do, and where's your money going? It's stupid.
SB 2: ...
SB 1: It's just society TELLING YOU that that's what you want to do.
SB 2: ...
SB 1: Anyway, let's go, yeah?
SB 2: Cool.

And then - and this is the best bit - at the top of the stairs, Small Boy 1 stopped, went to the side where they keep the sugar/napkins/water/stirry stick things, grabs a handful of sugar, says "Right, now we can go", and they leave.

My New Hero.

2. I saw a busker playing a guitar in a bin. Like, sitting in one of those bins with a top and two holes on either side, his elbow sticking out of one hole, the neck of the guitar out of the other. I can't explain it any better than that, but believe me, it was exactly as odd as it sounds. He was quite good, though.

3. I learnt about Monasticism, and Literacy, and Population, and the Peasant's Revolt, and It Was Good.

4. I had a preliminary dissertation meeting, and they agreed my topic! Hurrah hurrah three cheers and you lot should all run for the hills right about now, because from the summer this blog is just going to be full of "amusing" anecdotes about Edward III.

But seriously though, DISSERTATION DISSERTATION DISSERTAAAAAAAAAAAATION! Provisional title: '"A successful king was a successful soldier": assess this view of late medieval English kingship'. OOH YEAH. It's a brilliant title because it's so flexible - it can be as broad or as focused as I want it to be, and it can be applied to any discussion. For example, I was also thinking about deposition theory, and how the polity could cope with a rubbish king (ended up being too broad and has been done to death anyway). This way, I can talk about the deposition of Richard II and how Henry IV had to spin it that it was a trial by combat because Richard had sinned against God by abusing his power...


5. I also got very cranky at the huge numbers of people who descended on Cambridge and Got In My Way. Christ, people walk SLOWLY in the sunshine.

How are you all?


  1. Writing dissertations is the best bit of university IMO.

    And I spent my bank holiday in the beer garden of a nice pub with a couple of peronis, marking first year essays. Who knew Julius Caesar became a dog when he died.

  2. Excellent, I might learn something about the English kings at last. They didn't teach us about any of that in Scotland.

    I hated writing my dissertation, because in my head it sounded like the sort of brilliantly illuminating tract that Clay Shirky might write, but in reality it turned out to be ill thought-through, unfocused rubbish.

    I still got my MA, though, I suppose.

  3. Fine, thank you! It was even sunny in the frozen north for a change. In fact it hasn't stopped being sunny all week - nobody up here seems quite sure what to do about it...

  4. Ah, I remember seeing that busker (if it was the same person) - thanks for reminding me :) Hmm, shame I hadn't developed my photographic habit back then.

    My BA dissertation was a disaster. I spent months and months reading about one subject, then at the last minute (probably slightly later) changed my mind completely and wrote about something else entirely (which I probably wasn't supposed to do really...), in the space of a week, while sleeping very little. On the day I was supposed to hand it in, I discovered that the uni had got rid of MS Works (in which I'd written the whole bloody thing) without me noticing, so I had to print it out with formatting that made it look like 8000 words of bad poetry. When I later discovered they'd given me 1% off a 2:1, I couldn't help wondering why I'd nearly given myself a breakdown over it. A few moments later I also realised that such generous marking probably meant that having a Philosophy degree would be even more worthless than I'd already imagined.

    Still, my response to this realisation was a shrug and an "Oh well", so perhaps they had taught me to think philosophically, after all?

    I was right, though, the degree was still pretty useless.

    Anyway, the MA dissertation went much much better :)

  5. I loved writing my dissertation. I think the key is picking a subject that will let you do your research in nice places. Well that's what I did anyway...

  6. Swiv - best AND worst, I think, looking at my third year friends and their descent into madness and monomania these past few weeks... And a friend of mine in the States is a high school teacher, and every year she sends us a list of all the horrendous sentences she's read. It would be funny if it weren't so depressing! (And are you an Eddie Izzard fan? "And this is our leader, Mr Dog" - "Centurion, I'm thinking of changing my name. Caesar, yes, that's a good one." !)

    Patroclus - honestly, don't encourage me, I have an awful tendency to lecture, usually accompanied by lots of gesticulation and bizarre excitement. The results are not pretty. And that is one thing I am worried about, actually - I'll be grappling with quite elusive concepts and I know it'll all go very wrong indeed. Bah.

    Rach - the sun is INSANE, there's been a mass exodus for any piece of greenery people can find. Everyone in my college is an attractive lobster colour.

    OPC - gah, how horrible, poor thing. Luckily, this is something I know I like and I know I'm interested in, so I shouldn't be changing my mind. Technology disasters, though, are all too likely...

    Chatterbox - the places I'll be researching in won't be too funky, unfortunately - mostly the Public Record Office and the British Library - but the geeky joy of handling ancient documents will be enough for me. :D