Thursday, 22 September 2011

Quick (and last) post today as it was a quick (and last interesting) day at Uni this fine Freshers' Week.

Initially I thought 'OMG! Not another two hour blab about stuff that I can read in my own time', but after the Head of Department, Dr Jess something-or-other began his 'motivational' talk (which wasn't THAT motivational, but interesting nonetheless), I was happy I did attend.

It's incredible to think just how many students there are at the moment for first year English - apparently 231 give or take a few - and that by year two only one in five of us will remain... bizzare! Still, more room for me to raise and wave my hand in the air and ask my eternal list of questions.

Dr Jess did what many of us, me especially, hoped he wouldn't do, and that was ask us to 'Turn to the person beside you and introduce yourselves for five minutes'. The only thing I remember was that the boy beside me was from London and he was living in private halls. He did mention his name but that went straight over my head. Before I caught what was sputtering out of my mouth I had told him I was a mature student, which meant older, but not much older and that I worked on the Curry Mile just round the corner from where he was staying (hope he didn't think I was coming on to him!) but not in one of the restaurants there (yurgh) but a solicitors (my mouth was a nervous, verbal machine gun). I asked if he had eaten in one of the places on the Mile. He smiled and said 'Yes, it was delicious', to which I pointed out there were rats and the kitchens were filthy. BE MY FRIEND!

Main point of today was that I loved it. There are so many oportunities in terms of work and experience. Carol Ann Duffy will be reading to us (lullabies?) next Friday, there will be a chance to network with a variety of professionals within areas of theatre, writing, education etc in addition to working on projects which seem to be in abundance over the next three years. I'm totally going to milk the support they offer in terms of time management and personal organisation (TIDY MY ROOM?) as I am sure this will help in terms of getting my ideas down on to pages. and eventually into stories!

Tomorrow is just a load of crap about how to use the library and so I shan't bore you anymore with my being a mature student during freshers' week. Quiet nights in all week instead of late night booze ups down 5th Ave or anywhere else these toddlers end up. The bliss of being a ... grown-up. Zzzzzzzzz

Good night and God bless!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Part Deux: Freshers Week Experience

What a tiresome day!

Barely slept again, though this time I cannot blame the excitement of the unexpectancies of University. 

You have to try some
Since I threw myself back into the gym this week (mainly to feel good while being around tight skin as well as trying to buff up for the Brazil trip in December), my body has been chugging down a clear liquid known as 'water'. It appears to be adjusting to this substance, yet exercising leads to more chugging, which leads to, hopefully initially only, twilight trips to the bathroom (notice the plural!). On top of this, after shoving my head between the pillows thinking this would help the arrival of sleep, my mind took me to thinking about my new bike (still to be collected). 
I've had a mountain bike for some time now and I have decided to change (it did get stolen so now I can start afresh) to a vintage racer; quicker to get to lectures and back. Due to the position I will need to be in to ride a racer bike, I went from thinking about whether or not my back could take the forward leaning (...), whether or not the narrow wheels would let me zoom over patches of ice when the winter comes or if I will be able to ride it hands free (don't try this at home kids) and not instantly fall on my face, leading to a possible cranium accident under a car (what a mind thinks at absurd hours). I must have schnoozed eventually, and well, as I didn't even hear my alarm clock!

Isn't it awful not knowing anyone when you start Uni? There are some people from my Access course which have also started at ManMet, but they aren't on my course. So I'm on me tod. Options to look like you are 'naturally' occupied are:
* Fidget with your phone (most obvious)
* Take forever to turn your ipod off
* Rustle through a pile of papers you took just in case any of the information (completely irrelavant) will be used

I fannied around for twenty minutes waiting, with everyone else (though many were in clinky groups and the ones also on their own, well, I'm not going to extend a hand and introduce myself) for the lecture theatre to open and allow us in. Fortunately, when I located a seat inside the theatre, I noticed that the lady I was sat beside had a brave few wrinkles (Yey! Another mature student). Unfortunately however, she was in the wrong room. I tried scanning the crowd around me but couldn't for the life of me detect an 'older' being, apart from the teachers. Will I be the only mature student?! While the 'Year Leader' waffled on about this and that, she threw in an occasional personal comment which drew from me a smile. Not from the others though. (??? an age thing? Will I be invited to staff parties or the monthly game of bridge?) This first hour of the day was useless. Everything dear Ellie talked about was there in front of us in black and white. I suppose they need to get paid for something though.
I'm the one in the glasses marking the cards

Out of the theatre room and I'm passing by the gym before heading home to munch some protein (grrrrr) then biked back for the other hour we needed to attend in the afternoon. 

PEOPLE! PLEASE! What is the point! Seven minutes with a lady (I think she teaches approaches to narrative) who pointed out the use of a 'personal tutor' (she gave three examples) then passed it over to a student entering his third year and left. This poor boy didn't even know he was going to be shoved in there until last minute and had to ask a room full of first year students if they had any questions. I felt his pain and so I asked a few but there was a limit to my forced curiosity. The glare of the other eighteen students burned my neck and so I brought my Qs and his As to and end.

Roll on Thursday. The excitement is hard to contain I have to say.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Fresher's Week As A Mature Student Part I

Last night felt like I was suddenly dragged back in time to when I was ten years old not being able to sleep because the following morning meant the first day of school (GEEK!). Even back then, whenever I had to stay off school because of an illness, I'd be jealous of those who got to go and so I'd look out from my brother's bedroom window over to the school's playground with butterflies in my belly just at the thought of what I was missing out on.

This morning dragged! The time stated to collect the Uni ID card (that's all I was going for, no classes yet) was 10am - 4pm and I got up at 7:45. Two large, black coffees later, my foot was tapping the floor at a speed which nearly gave me cramp and my eyes darted from one clock to the other, thinking this would help speed things up. By 9:45 I was already out the door and on my bike. 

Aren't the roads great after 9:30. Hardly a car could be heard nor a person seen (okay, maybe one or three). Everyone was either at work or at school. I biked my way straight down Stretford Road at a pleasurable pace until I hit the opening of the campus halls. Suddenly I began to feel nervous. Could they tell I was older than them? Did they think I looked ridiculous with my Puma bag and my beany? Simple answer; Fuck 'em. 

After securing my bike and taking a deep breath I made my way into the crowd of youths. Outside stood 'the smokers', they looked so cool holding their fags awkwardly between their fingers, blowing the smoke out straight after they inhaled. Ah, those days. 

Queues were everywhere. It seemed I wasn't the only one who wanted to get there bright and early. Like a good British national I immediately found a place in the nearest queue and waited. Eventually I discovered I was in the wrong one and so I made my way to the correct one. This was HUGE. It seemed to spiral round two corners and down a flight of stairs (no joke!). I didn't mind though as I had my ipod (great) and I could also people watch (ie bitch to myself, even better). 

Now, I have a shaved head, #2. I like it. It's simple and easy to maintain. These kids had all just materialised out of Tony & Guy or some freak magazine of 'How Best To Fuck With Your Hair'. Some (I mean one) I liked, the rest would probably HAVE TO grow on me. As I shuffled closer to my destination I noticed how fashion really does set a trend, be that bad or good. The choice for chinos won with the boys, girls preferred leggings with a large jumper over the top (always good to show a bit of ass. Let's see if they'll do an inverted day where the boys go as girls and girls go as boys?). 

As today was simply to pick up the ID card I have no idea who I will be studying with for the next 3 years. This I will find out tomorrow... more to come then.

Friday, 9 September 2011

August bank holiday weekend blessed me with my first (large) festival christening. My very first one was Pitball Festival in Taunton. This was really just one stage and a bunch of locals from the neighbouring villages in a field. They haven't had another since 2008, so it was time I sought another.

 Shambala !

Before going, I had been told it was a festival for a bunch of hippies. This for me was a plus. I was never given the specifics on what to expect, but my judgmental mind led me to believe I would meet families made up of relatives and siblings with long, unkept hair, flairs and each one emitting their own... individual essence.

There was such a lovely welcome to those arriving that, despite the drizzling, dreary weather, gave hope to a long, happy, relaxing weekend. 

An old double-decker picked people up from the little train station of Market Harborough in Nottinghamshire, cheerful voluntary workers confirmed tickets at the entrance with big smiles and a chuckle then pointed the way to the 'love chamber'; a tunnel which opened upon  the camping field. For some reason (maybe the fact that I'm a big Harry Potter fan) I felt as if I had apparated to The Quidditch World Cup. Banners fluttered crazily high in the air as people carelessly threw their bags into their newly pitched tents, eager to make their way to the city of dazzling lights. 

I don't know about other festivals, but what I heard on the Shambala site was that it began with a group of around 150 people with a sound system and a field. From this, they have managed to get up to 14,000 visitors in 2011 (that figure is not official, just what I heard from a random guy I met at a tree while waiting for a friend). If this number is accurate, the organizers have achieved quite a bit. They recycle almost all waste, invest in compost loos, use solar, wind and biodiesel for resources and were awarded the highest ever 'industry green' by Julie's Bycicle

So, we pitched our tent conveniently behind the portaloos - at a considerable distance of course - paces away from the FREE 'luxurey showers' and a reasonable stretch away from the small village of pleasures where the music, arts and crafts were being held. Within an hour we were asked to join the circle of the noisy crowd (which we declined) and were kindly offered a variety of uppers, downers and confounders (which we also declined... bar one?) by a wandering roamer.

Within 24 hours, we had all settled in and called it home. If someone asked where the Chaiwalla tent was, I would inform them; 'over there'. If families were looking for a good Sunday afternoon film? 'Grandma's cinema' (my favourite tent), right around the corner. The grounds had so much to offer. The healing area (beside the Enchanted Forest) was bliss to be in; yoga, massage, herbalist walks around the gardens. Workshops, fancy dress (our crew went as a veg patch; carrot, pepper, corn and our faithful slug), food, music, samba and more were available every day, inevitably drawing in the curious passersby.  

Now, music wise, it was not my cup of tea, but that didn't mean it wasn't enjoyable. With the amount going on around you, I advise to stick with your group of friends and while you all wobble, sway or slump from side to side or back and forth, watch a male she-ra chase a smurf, dazzle yourself by a catwalk of 'meggings' struggling through the mud amongst many, many other excellent, impressive home-made creations stumbling around.

In the Kamikaze tent, probably the second biggest stage there, I saw myself in the future. Coming through the crowd gently being rocked, a couple shuffled through behind a pram. In the pram sat the cutest baby of all time (oops, second cutest as cutest still remains with my friend's, Arthur). The display of lights above hypnotised the littl'en into a lolling daze. The earmuffs his parents had equipped him with made him even cuter; big, yellow blocks which probably sent him a muffled version of what I had been forced to listen to (mental note: get me some industrial earmuffs - also, stop sniggering at the word 'muff').

Lamb played on the Main Stage... Music; good, standing up to listen to the music; bad. Although I enjoy the tuneage, my physical movements did not match the rhythm and so I probably looked a bit unstable to fellow members of the audience. Reggae, or what I call reggae (Jungle, dubstep, ragga ragga etc) was in abundance. I listened to a great variety of this genre until I had to haul my white flag up on the third day so I could pursue further talents in the minor tents. One tent which made me leave an ass-print in was a tiny shelter near the crafts area. I watched a man with an AMAZING voice (can't remember his name, forgive me), doing acoustics with his guitar and I have to say, his fingers struck all the right cords! (Guffaw, guffaw)
Congo Natty, although I thought would be a pain in my feet, was really very good. The Kamikaze tent was bursting, the beats were difficult to fight against and the guys on stage were extremely engaging. My only criticism, and this isn't directly to Mr Natty (oh wait, isn't Mr Natty me? click here to see) is that the music went from; bounce, bounce, wave your hands to shuffle, sway, look towards the way out. More bounce, bounce would have been better.

After the second major bonfire and guards wrestling with approaching pyromaniacs (me!), the festival came to an end.  

I would hate to see Shambala turn into Glasto, but I do recommend it from the highest level. If you would like to know more, click here.