Take veil for sex noises

"What you need to do is carefully remove the turf, and put it to one side. Then you dig the hole", my dad instructed me before he went to Mallorca. "Get someone to help you, if you need. But bury her just here.. this corner of the garden."
Floss is most definitely on her way out. After twenty-three years on this earth (yes, twenty-three years) the old white, fluffy mog is on her last legs and the end is nigh.

Floss has been with us for two years. Before that, she was with my auntie Charlotte, and before that she was with nan. She has survived several of her litter, and if it wasn't for her obviously now very weak condition, she'd probably have outlived Earl just by default. But she won't. She's eating very little, her internal organs are one at a time saying right, that's enough. I've been in this game too long, and she only gets any kind of pleasure when she's out in the sunshine. In fact, today she was out in the sun for half an hour, looking very peaceful. I stood at the backdoor just watching her, wondering if this would be the moment went she finally gave in. But she didn't. She came back in, looked at her food like it was complicated and disturbing, and tried to lie comfortably in her basket. I rang dad, left a message saying I think it's time, and am just waiting for the go. I've never dug a grave before. I'll light a candle afterwards.

So, I'm back home now anyway. Year one completed. I absolutely cannot believe that I'm one third of the way through my degree. The last few weeks have flown by and have been busy (hence my lack of posts) but I'll try to put in this post as much as I can about how it's all gone down. Please feel free to take a toilet/tea/coffee/cigarette/sex break anytime you need to:

I got 80% in my final essay for the Tacking Text: Explaining Style module - this is my best essay result of the year. Funnily enough, I didn't think I'd do that well. See, I started the essay at 10:30pm (not the night before the deadline, though. Just late at night) and attempted to replicate the conditions by which I did an essay the month before and got 75% for; I closed my door and curtains, dimmed the lights (i.e. pushed my lamp against the wall to create a dark, lava-like glow in the room), stuck on some classical music (James Newton Howard that night) and gave myself til 01:30am to do as much as I could. After the three hours I'd written it, and was happy with it, but felt like it was a bit too easy - a bit too pleasurable. I left it til the morning, re-read it, but found that I really couldn't say anything more, so I just handed it in and hoped for the best. Then I got the 80% mark. I did genuinely love writing the essay though (my notes took much longer than the type-up) and found the book to be incredible.

The text was Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day (1989) which was the novel we read for the module (we also studied one play and one poem). Everyone's probably familiar with the film adaptation with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson (not a bad version I suppose) but the book was just staggering. It's all told through the narrative of Stevens - head butler at Darlington Hall - who is attempting to win back a previous housekeeper he is obviously in love with, but who is also living vividly in the past. His narration is unreliable, and his solid professionalism is heartbreaking as it reveals his missed opportunities. Partially set against the backdrop of WWII, it feels highly authentic. It is also very funny at times. I recommend it highly.

My other essays marks were also not bad, but I think I'll need to do extremely well in The Tale exam to get a first this year. Oh well. I've enjoyed it all anyway, and next year I'll know what to expect a bit more. After The Tale exam on Tuesday, my dad and uncle John (from Canada) were waiting at the house to load up the car to bring me home - firstly, though, I showed them both round the campus and gave John a guided of Canterbury (but let him make his own pilgrimage round the cathedral). Ayumi came along and met my dad. Dad was his old self, inadvertently utilising cultural hypercorrection when confronted with a foreign person; firstly he bowed to Ayumi when he met her (much to his own horror after he did it) and then went on to imitate a couple of her utterances in a distinctly exaggerated Japanese accent. I wanted the ground to swallow me up, and I fear for when she comes over in July.

On the final Saturday before I left, I organised a curry for a few of us, and Dan Parker managed to come down for the night. Dan was his usual, interrogative self towards new people - particularly those of my friends who are not British - by asking them what their national flower, animal or dish were. Sophie (Luxembourg), Fran and Chiara (Italy) and obviously Ayumi (Japan) all acted with an initial air of affrontedness when Dan first got going, but soon realised that this is just Dan, and I think the night went well. The food was amazing, and really good service considering there was quite a few of us there (Blaine, Emily, Charlotte, Nick and Julia also attended). I really felt like it had been a good year, having so many good people there that night. Others couldn't make it, but there's always next year. Here is a particularly good picture with Sophie, Fran and Chiara heading home:

Dan seemed very happy with fatherhood. This was the first time I'd seen him since the arrival of baby Mary. It was genuinely great to have at least one friend from back home down to see my first year living arrangements, even if it was the last forty-eight hours of it.

Started a couple of Salsa teaching training classes - this was always going to be daunting. There were very few of us available to start the training, seeing as how everyone has exams. On Sunday, it was just Yiota, Lefki, Ben, Toby and I, but we did go over one simple move again and again to potentially show beginners. What is also intimidating is that for the first few weeks, we're going to have 200+ beginners, all wanting to learn Salsa. We've also lost Rutherford dining hall next year, so we've got to cram people into Missing Link hall (less than half the size). It's going to be interesting, but I think we're up for it. Well, we have to be now.

Things I will miss about living in Parkwood:

The air at 6:45am as I left the house to go swimming (never has getting up that early on a regular basis been so appealing). The campus is so peaceful and quiet at that time of day, full of more potential than I could ever imagine.

The 9 minute 35 second walk from my front door to the library cafe. The faces on the way, and the green along the path.

Chris and Maureen, obviously (although there is also a couple of ducks near me here now, so that should help).

Having the friends close by that I had, and also the playing field so close. I only utilised this in the last few weeks, but it was perfect.

It has come and gone, I have had something taken away from me just as I was feeling completely at ease with it all, but that's okay. That's how all things should be. We should never get used to something for too long, never take the sheen off anything. Get rid of it before you get complacent, or let something else take it away for you (like time). We lose weeks like buttons, like pencils. Everything ought to feel like first kiss electricity, even a year in a town that isn't home. Roll on the homework.

I have been listening to a great deal of music whilst revising and preparing to return home.

The first album that I wish to talk about is Souls At Zero (1992) by Neurosis. This was one of those albums that lays the cards on the table for the fans, separating the dedicated from the transient. Many were quite happy with the whiplash hardcore of their debut, and were more than a little taken aback by SAZ, with its sonic landscapes, its dark folk influence and its genuine epic menace. But for others, this is where Neurosis really began to make their mark, something they continued through with such acclaimed releases as Enemey Of The Sun (1993), The Eye of Every Storm (2004), and of course, Through Silver In Blood (1996). But for me, SAZ is where its at, and I don't just mean Neurosis - I mean extreme music full stop. Never before or since has such genius been extracted from blackness. This has got to be in the top three albums I have ever heard in my sorry life. It is just pure pleasure and fear as one - good production, unintrusive, poignant samples, and Steve Von Till's (et al) vocals are just mind blowing. Von Till has developed a voice now which has to be the best in alternative music, but here it is just harrowing and poetic at the same time. As a listener for 10+ years now of this band, I still have difficulty explaining what they address - but I guess the cover to SAZ sums it up quite well. A homemade wicker man (built by the band themselves) emphasises the pagan, sun-worshiping content of their philosophical lyrics. The universe and the world are things that can take as they will, hammering home the futility of everything, especially our own genius for self-destruction. Beyond brilliant.

I first took an interest in Undertones after I heard My Perfect Cousin in an episode of Our Friends in the North, back in 1996. I remember thinking then that they were a solid punk band. But hearing a really good collection such as True Confessions (Singles = A's & B's) (2008) its easy to see that they are much more than just another punk product of the seventies. Undertones are a great and diverse band - you have the loud and angsty post-crooners of Teenage Kicks, True Confessions or Get Over You (all dealing with the paralysing frustration of being a teenager brilliantly), but then you also have a band that lend their edgy playing to more humorous levels with tracks such as Mars Bar and Jimmy Jimmy. Feargal Sharkey never dropped his Derry accent, and this places the band firmly on the ground. No rock and roll idiocy here. If only boiling diarrhea acts like U2 could have stuck closer to reality.

A very distracting album to listen to after you've just been swimming for an hour is Eyes On Green: Live at Tokyo Inkstick 1988 by Syzygys. This sounds so contemporary, and because I only heard them within the last twelve months, I just assumed this was a recent recording - but no, it's 21 years old. Remarkable. But this stuff really is timeless; you have your spiralling, crazy accordion-based instrumentals, racing along like warped computer game music, and then you have the singing, which is instantly recognisable as being Japanese but feels dated compared to the music. A brilliant combination. The complete studio efforts are out there to get also, but this is the best thing they ever released, I reckon.

Finally, I found this taped to the wall in Missing Link before we had Salsa on Sunday. I wondered what the hell it meant until I found out it was a cue used by my housemate Max during the play he was in (I still don't feel any the wiser for knowing this, though):

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to miss parkwood too. I never appreciated I was actually living in a park, a happy little park. Quite sad really but you are right - on to better and brighter things.