Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Best For Last

After a year of measly, dead-end rooms that could nuttify the most stable of people, I am now living somewhere pretty bloody superb. The ceilings are five metres high, cluttered book shelves make up much of the living room, there is always fruit on the kitchen table and chocolate by the tea and whisky, the shower has shown remarkable gumption and should be commended for that, there are plenty of coat hooks and mirrors in the entrance, and there is a cream and bronze, art deco lamp hanging over the dark study desk. I can move freely from room to room, which feels, quite frankly, stately by comparison. The back garden is lush and the leaves are now orange, lime and plum.

Only two more weeks til submission. I am suspiciously cheerful.

Hoping you are well, and enjoying a home.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Tuesday, Before Sleep

I have a full thesis now. It's finally fun, this thesis-writing lark, tidying it up. Submission date within weeks. Viva date already set. Supervisor has uttered 'excellent' and 'very good' in front of me, in relation to my work, for the first time. With other words. But still.

These past couple of months, some of my final here, have had their own rhythm and purpose. I hadn't anticipated this. I have made some new friends, including this adorable, camp Irish guy. Goodness me, he is funny. Then there's this very attractive young woman from Puerto Rico via the States. She has that calm observer quality, and she's affectionate. I've been far more open to learning from people's research topics. I am not sure why I found it harder to focus on this before. Perhaps I was panicked. I went to a late-night bonfire a week or two ago. It was an odd choice of activity for a meet-and-greet. The marshmallows were lush.

My old friends have been my family, not because I am so important, just because they're good people. One couple I've taken to calling Mum and Dad. They give me fruit, and let me stay at their place when they go on holidays because it's closer to the College library than my place, which is near the Parks.

One of my oldest pals - we were in the same row of rooms in my first year here - has the same viva date as me. That's nice. For two weeks straight we worked together in the American Institute library, which has a lot of natural light. We've been continuing with Geek Frisbee on a Tuesday and we wore flowers in our hair the other night. Her idea. White flowers. I liked it.

The other evening, my ex-boyfriend and I walked down my favourite street in Oxford, Queen's Lane. It was mostly dark, but there was some thin orange light, sent out from the Sheldonian. We could hear classical music on one of the corners. I pulled myself up the stone wall to look in at a young, Chinese boy on the piano and an older gentleman on the violin. As I jumped down, I gushed. He replied that this would all be good memories for me very soon, my time here. I was not quite ready for the 'm' word and had to blink a lot.

Yesterday, I ventured down to Lunar House, in East Croydon, south of London, to give my prints over to the UK Border Agency as per their requirements. Once an Orwellian nightmare, it wasn't so bad this time. I made my way back to Oxford the long way, via Hoxton, East London, to check out some art studios. The high street there is packed with art students in leopard print harem pants, leotards and tailored jackets. In another street, in which there was a surprising number of cheap Italian shoe shops, women in gently sequined headscarves were picking up their kids from primary school.

I sat with Bill today and he asked what we were going to do next. We brainstormed possible business ideas and our top pick is setting up an ecotourist business on the meadows at the back of College. We'd dress in medieval costume and people could take photographs of us planting and weaving. We'd exchange our produce for goods, and speak in Old English. We'd have a hut with a few props in it, but, at Bill's insistence, it would conceal a tunnel back to our rooms in College. I added that the tunnel would need to house all the mod cons, so we could emerge in normal clothes. We'd probably take up the ciggs. Our target market would be wealthy students, tourists, and North Oxford families, with children called Ambroise, Saffron, and Orlando. I tested it on a friend after dinner and he said he would pay £50 to be our feudal lord for the day and give us light whippings. He thinks we should add potions to our products. I blue-skied that we could also take on troubled kids as one of those brat retreats, medieval-style, that would then become a Channel Four documentary. But this would probably require a dungeon and then, as my friend concluded, a marauding Mongol.

On most days, it is bright and blue outside, but it is very chilly.

We are all wheezing the same wheeze.