Monday, October 31, 2005

The One With The Cake

Last Saturday we celebrated Nick's birthday and I enjoyed one of those spontaneous and very funny evenings.

Following an Italian meal out we returned to my pad for some (more) wine and cake. You might not expect it, but the actual 'giving of the cake' turned out to be something of a classic and is, I feel, worthy of mentioning here.

Picture the scene. We're back in my room enjoying some quality banter and it becomes appropriate for Jo and I to go and collect some more glasses and - more importantly - the cake. After some deliberation centred around the position of the smoke alarm and the insanely heavy kitchen door* we decide to light the candles just outside my room. I then proceeded to open the door, carry the cake in, and turn the lights out. So far, so good.

However for some reason, probably the fact that the windows were open, all the candles on the cake went out again and I was confronted with a lot of bewildered people in a dark room.

All was not lost as, with the immortal words "there's been a bit of a disaster", I summoned Jo (who was picking up the glasses) to relight the candles. There followed simultaneous attempts to maneuver the cake to Nick, avoid the smoke alarm, take photographs and sing Happy Birthday. Not easy when everyone is laughing. A lot.

I am now going to use the rather poor and tenuous link of talking about cake to respond to the comment left by 'the cake lovers'.

I hereby correct my statement about 20th Century Prime Ministers. "All Prime Ministers since WWII who went to university studied at Oxford" should suffice, and is, I believe accurate.

There has been so much to blog about recently, but I'm afraid you'll just have to come back again soon for the next posts.

*There are two doors between the kitchen and the staircase, one of which is insanely heavy and has an annoying handle. This, coupled with the fact that the lobby between them could be measured on the nano scale makes getting food from the kitchen to my room somewhat difficult. Grrr.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Speed Dating

If I had a list of things to do before I was 30, Speed Dating would probably feature. So when the opportunity arose for me to experience this slightly random phenomenon for the first time I took it. It was for charity (RAG), and I currently have no better half who could complain about an evening spent meeting random women - so really, there was no excuse.

For those of you who are somehow oblivious, the concept of Speed Dating is quite simple. You get a short period of time with each member of the opposite sex and at the end of it you indicate on a form whether you would like to see them again. If both parties would like to meet again, numbers get swapped.

The RAG Speed Date on Tuesday was at Merton’s Bar and everyone was given a sticker with a B (‘boy’) or G (‘girl’) and a number. The time per ‘date’ was three minutes and when a horn sounded the guys had to move on to the next girl on their list.

You may recall that Speed Dating featured in the Vicar of Dibley last Christmas. Like Owen I could have adopted a ‘cool’ name such as Brad and tried far too hard to appear sexy, but fortunately I didn’t. I just went as myself, aiming to have a bit of a laugh and enjoy the experience.

And how did I get on? I think the best way of summing it up would be ‘Freshers’ Week all over again’. Those of you who have been a Fresher in a random bar and spent an evening meeting random people, repeating your name, college and subject to each one will know what I mean. At least I didn’t get asked what A’levels I did this time...

Most of the girls I met seemed to be there for the same reason as I was – namely that they felt it’d be fun to try Speed Dating once in their life and this was a good opportunity. In most cases the three minutes passed quite quickly and the conversation could easily have flowed on. More than once the horn went, rather infuriatingly, in the middle of some interesting chat. I had a couple of awkward pauses but nothing too bad - one of the girls told me that her previous ‘date’ had provided her with the longest three minutes of her life. I think the most random moment was being asked what ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ meant. Having attempted - rather badly I think - to give an answer it dawned on me to ask why I had been asked such a question in the first place. I was duly informed that ‘without such random questions it would get awfully boring and repetitive’. Quite.

Did I find love? In a word, no. It wasn’t that there was a lack of attractive girls – far from it – but that, as I expected, it wasn’t that kind of evening. Time will tell whether I see any of the people I met again though. I gave quite a few positive ticks because I’m too nice to be heartless and aside from a few who annoyed me I found everyone very friendly. Whether I got any positive ticks in return remains to be seen as RAG haven’t followed it up yet. Chatting to others revealed that on the whole the guys were much more positive than the girls, but let’s not dwell on what that might say about those that took part.

Would I do it again? Again, no. I’ve had the experience – and am all the better for it – but can’t see why I’d want to do it again. I’ve never needed to resort to Speed Dating to introduce myself to new people in the past and I hope that that won’t change.

Back in the real world I’ve spent the afternoon investigating the option of further study beyond my degree and loving the hot weather. I have had a productive week and have accumulated a lot to blog about, but that can wait for my next post.

Monday, October 24, 2005

More Trafalgar Madness

Yesterday at formal dinner in Brasenose I was once again party to celebrations in aid of the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

As at Christ Church, flags were in evidence in Hall and this time we were all given a glass of rum. Before the meal began the Principal gave a short (but almost completely irrelevant) speech and the aforementioned rum was used to toast Addington (ex Brasenose PM who funded the Battle), Nelson and Trafalgar.

Today has been more mundane - a large proportion of it was spent in the library, which was at least productive. Right now I am bemoaning the inability of the cheap cover for my telephone to withstand being in my pocket, as the casing around the screen has cracked severly. I have done a repair job which does not render the phone immediately useless but I am not a happy bunny.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Trafalgar Day

Yesterday I was invited to formal dinner at Christ Church, and it was a quality evening.

Christ Church had chosen to celebrate the fact that yesterday was the 200th Anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar. This meant that the hall was bedecked with flags and in typically random Oxford fashion a ship shaped cake, complete with sparklers was processed around the hall at the end of the meal, before ending up on High Table. We were all also given a mini bottle of Nelson's Rum to take away which is very cool. The meal itself was very nice - Tomato Soup followed by Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding and some form of Plum Tart for desert.

Isn't it funny sometimes how the lyrics of a song can sum up exactly how you feel about something?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Shape Throwing

For some reason the other day I had a desire to throw some shapes and yet had no dancefloor and no-one to groove with, alas. I told my friend Richard about the problem, and his response is worthy of a mention here, I feel:

'JP, you gotta keep the music alive, man. Even if that means dancing to an empty room!'

You'll probably be relieved to know that I didn't resort to dancing to an empty room but I did enjoy my Latin Dancing Class yesterday evening. We learnt the jive, which was cool - however it did take me until the end of the class to master it unfortunately.

On another note I am pleased to see that David Cameron has topped the second round of the Conservative Party Leader contest; he is my favourite candidate. The fact that he studied at the Kings Hall and College of Brasenose might or might not be a factor in this but I have actually been impressed by the way he has dealt with some difficult questions recently. I hope that I am right when I feel that he is perhaps more trustworthy than some. As I have said before, honesty is always important.

Incidentally, if Cameron wins the contest and if he becomes the next PM it will continue the trend that all the Prime Ministers since the beginning of the last century who went to university studied here in Oxford.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Happy St Luke's Day

Today is, apparently, The Feast Day of St Luke The Evangelist. I know this because I am speaking tonight in Brasenose Chapel (6pm - OK, so I know it's a bit of a shameless advert) and St Luke the Evangelist is the theme. It should be fun, though I'm struggling to wrap my homily up at the moment. Incidentally, my favourite random fact about St Luke is that he is the patron saint of painters.

Last night I went to a fantastic talk by one of my lecturers on 'The God of The Whole (not the gaps)', which looked at the relationship between faith and science and God's Divine Providence. He had some interesting things to say about how science and faith complement one another and it was really encouraging.

I'm pleased to report that the postcards for the wall are still coming in - let's keep it that way. Thanks to Juliette for the Giraffe, and to Nathan for indeed simultaneously winning the award for least far-flung (Oxford) and most random (does anyone know where Danby Gate is, without having to Google it?).

The gauntlet has been laid...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

It's All Greek to Me

Yesterday, after dithering for ages about how I would spend my evening I accompanied a friend to see another friend in Orestes at the Oxford Playhouse. It was in Ancient Greek with English Surtitles (too small for me to read comfortably, alas, but I managed). Not only did it make me feel very cultured, but I really enjoyed it and was genuinely impressed with the talented acting.

In a random turn of events I also wound up at the after-show cast party, which was quite fun. There's just something about 'gate-crashing a cast party' which sounds cool, even though I was actually invited.

I also learnt about Facebook last night - evidently the fact that I'd never heard of it let alone signed up is something to be pitied. Hmmm.

Thanks to all who've responded to my postcard competition - I've got a few cards on the board now and I'm very pleased. Keep them coming...

Now to watch Sam on Leeds Student TV.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

1st Week Ramblings

Well, term has started and Oxford life is well underway. I've joined the chapel choir (don't laugh) and attempted some Latin Dancing (again, don't laugh).

Actually, the dancing went quite well. I was dragged along to a trial session by a friend who was attempting to promote it and I really enjoyed it. I managed to find a partner without having to look desperate and lecherous and I'm proud to report that-despite my treading on her toe to the extent that it drew blood-she still wants to partner me in future and we went to a proper class yesterday.

More importantly, lectures have started and on the whole it's quite enjoyable. I really enjoyed yesterday's Atomic Physics, which probably had a lot to do with the lecturer's desire to make it as interesting and as informative as possible. We laughed when he explained that a previous course had gained him the comment "the interesting method of teaching involved generating understanding at the time, which some students found disturbing".

Today's Nuclear lecture was, however, rubbish. It had been promised that the lecturer had "read the syllabus this year" but as one of my friends remarked, that wasn't the biggest issue - it was his grasp of English (which, as far as I can ascertain, is his first language). He made some actually quite exciting topics appear mind-numbingly dull and his voice and mannerisms would fit in well on something like Little Britain.

Until next time.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Only In Oxford...

I love being in Oxford. I love the random events and traditions and the slightly 'detached from the real world' feel to student life here. I was thinking about this last night when I walked through town in a suit and gown, carrying half a bottle of wine and no-one batted an eyelid.

This morning I had one of those experiences which could only really happen in Oxford. I was in college - in the JCR no less - and the Bishop of Lincoln came in. Why was he there? Because he's officially the 'Visitor of the College'. As yesterday's Chapel notice sheet put it, "The Bishop of Lincoln (Visitor of the College) will be visiting college tomorrow". Obviously it was perceived that there was no need for elaboration. I however am intriuged, and aim to find out more about why the Bishop is 'Visitor of the College' in due course.

It's been a quality weekend, with visits from many big names. Term has now officially started however, and the work must begin...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What is...

...a 'Rodding Eye'?

As you descend the stairs outside my room you are faced with a plaque fixed to the top corner of the wall in front, which says "Access to the Rodding Eye".

Admittedly we've not tried searching for it on Google (that would ruin the point of this post) but no-one here seems to have a clue what it is.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Is Height Important?

I enjoyed one of those classic Oxford conversations over lunch today which started around the idea that some physicists are planning on using computers to model dating strategies. The question of why physicists and not computer scientists was brushed aside with a quip about needing to have some idea about dating, but I digress. During the conversation we talked about the idea of height being an important factor in choice of partner and concluded that it was far more common for the bloke to be taller than the girl and not the other way around. One of the guys then added that in some ancient Hindu literature it states that the optimum is for the man to be 8 - 10 cm taller than the woman in a relationship.

And this is where you come in. I want to know whether or not there really is any truth behind this.

Please leave your comments below - if you are in a relationship would you class it as 'stable' and are you happy? Do you and your other half fit the optimum suggested by the Hindu wisdom? Do you have any other thoughts/experiences which might shed light on the matter?

Thanks :)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Postcard Competition

Those of you who read my previous post will note that my new pad has a board for postcards. However, as it stands there are only two occupants of said board, whicb is a bit sad really.

I have therefore decided to launch JP's Postcard Challenge. Postcards sent to me c/o Brasenose College Oxford should get here, and the more random or far flung the better. Do bear in mind however that from my PoV your home village is likely to be random and far flung...

Go for it.


Greetings from Oxford!

The summer seems to have flown past and this post comes to you from my new pad which I moved in to yesterday to commence my fourth year. Scary stuff.

Moving in was a bit of a hassle because the original fob supplied with my keys was broken and I had to rely on others to let me in and out of the building until I could get it fixed, but now I am fully installed. I like my new room; it's quite modern, light and airy and comes with a sofa. I need to get some picture hooks installed, but I do at least have a big cork-board for postcards.

In a departure from previous years, I'm not living in the main college, which has lent a slightly unfamiliar feel to some aspects. It's great to be back though. A lot of people have sadly now moved on from Oxford, but there are still many familiar faces and I'm looking forward to meeting some new ones.

Those of you who read Sam's blog will know that another big change is afoot. My esteemed father has landed himself a new job, and as such the family home will be moving from Newbury to West Sussex come the end of term. It'll be strange, and I'll miss Royal Berkshire and my friends there, but it will also be quite exciting.

Regular readers will know that I like to talk about music, and today I bought myself 'Hotel' by Moby in HMV's sale. Like his previous album, '18', it's very chilled with a lot of variety and peppered with random lyrics. "
Come back to us spiders, Come uncrushed my hand, Let me sent beauty rain, And bring us love again, like you can" is a classic example. I love hearing the reasons behind the name of an album or the lyrics of a song, and Moby's reasons for calling it 'Hotel' are particularly thought provoking. He notes that people sleep in hotel rooms, bathe in hotel rooms, have sex in hotel rooms and begin and end relationships in hotel rooms and yet between guests the rooms are wiped clean and no trace is usually found of the previous occupant. He then tries to draw parallels with life which made me think, even if it's all a bit inconclusive and depressing.