Saturday, 29 May 2010

Time's Wallet

So apparently it’s a Saturday. I was not aware of this.

There’s no way to mark the passing of time in the library, you see. I’ve been here for what feels like weeks, but it could just be a matter of days. Hours, maybe. I know time has passed, because the security guards in the porters’ lodge have changed over. The windows in this room are frosted. Most other students have finished exams now. There's almost no-one else here. It's a surprise to pass someone in the corridor. We all wear the same expression. We're all in this together. What’s the weather like? It was raining when I arrived. Maybe it isn’t now. The rest of London could be wiped out in some kind of zombie apocalypse, and I wouldn’t know until I went foraging for a cup of tea. I feel like Steve McQueen in the Great Escape. The Cooler Queen.

These days, I find joy only in the discreet flouting of library rules through the medium of chocolate-coated raisins. The thrill of knowing I could be thrown out if I’m caught eating in here is what keeps me alive. I’ve managed much bigger feats before – pots of pasta, baguettes, thermos flasks of tea – but there’s something pleasant about the steady, raisin-by-raisin disregard for the regulations.

It’s the home stretch now. My final exam is next Wednesday and it’s the one I’m dreading the most. I’m undertaking the risky venture of Tactical Revision; there’s no way I’m going to be able to understand and learn the entire syllabus, so over this week I’ve been attempting to process some of the major topics. So far, I reckon I could tackle three. Out of sixteen. Too few. Far too few. So here I am again.

Just better make sure I don’t completely lose track of time and miss the exam…

Thursday, 27 May 2010

There is a world elsewhere.

A good friend of mine once told me that classicists are a self-selecting elite. And it's true. I am a classicist, ergo I am better than you (unless you are also a classicist, in which case, high five!). We study ancient languages. We know things about myths. We scorn new-fangled technology like over-head projectors (a passing fad). We're philosophers, historians, art-critics: in short, whatever your degree offered, ours does it too, and a lot more besides. So ner.

Which is why it's slightly embarrassing for me to admit that next year, I'll be defecting to the ranks of the English department, in order to study some Johnny-come-lately called Shakespeare. I, who have spent three years studying the Bard (Homer, that is) and exploring the very origins of theatre through the only three playwrights worth knowing about (Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, naturally). I, who used to scorn the world of lit-crit, iambic pentameter, and frankly anything composed in a year with the letters 'AD' after it. 16th century England will be, to put it crudely, a piece of piss after three years of stuff from two-and-a-bit millenia ago. Won't it? The English department will surely fawn all over me, offering me obsequious service and cups of tea. Won't they?

A change of discipline isn't the only new thing about next year. In order to save money in these financially wobbly times, I'll be moving back to the badlands of Essex. I'm going to be a live-at-home student. A part-time Londoner. A slave to the last train home, always on the hunt for that elusive sofa to crash on when I miss it. On the plus side, the food will be better.

In just under a week, I shall complete my final exam and, neither a classicist nor an English student, shall step into the liminal space of the summer vacation, through which I shall pass to territories as yet uncharted. I shall go boldly where not many classicists have gone before, and I shall blog from there.

Wish me luck.