I have a question. You know those mornings when you wake up – bright and early for whatever you have to do – and then you just pause to lower your eyelids for a picosecond and then oops you’re glancing at your watch and it’s Time To Get Up (And Skip Washing And Breakfast)? Those mornings like this morning? Well – why do I always seem to manage to wake up again just at that moment where it’s not too late to make it if I literally jump out of bed, pull on some clothes and rush out the door? On one level it’s quite handy, but at the same time it does create a lot of hassle compared to just sleeping straight through. But seriously… is it actually not just coincidence? Given that we seem to be able to wake up just a few minutes before the alarm was due to go off in the first place, it’s perhaps entirely possible that your body can calculate the exact number of minutes of sleep which can be squeezed out. I don’t know… scientists?
Anyway, it was definitely worth rushing out to lectures in the end (without any breakfast – did I mention this? *grumbles*) for two reasons. Reason One is that my second lecture was on Aristotle and against all my expectations I managed to fall in love with the guy. He’s still barking, naturally, but his critique of Plato makes him so much more sophisticated and amenable to me by hinting that perhaps thoughts of an objective, transcendental ‘good’ are utter nonsense. (He doesn’t quite follow the path to moral relativism, you understand, but he leaves Plato behind in the dust.) Reason Two – and god, Reason One was only supposed to take up a sentence: this blog is going to be severely over-long… – was that Abi phoned as I was speed-walking on an empty stomach (seriously, no breakfast!) with the news that she was going to London this afternoon with some friends to see Russell T Davies, only one of her friends had sadly been forced to pull out, and perhaps I would like… of course I would like! Yes, yes and yes, hurrah! (Timing was still playing crazy games with me though – it just would be the case that I could make it on time but only by rushing back home from supervision.)
Oh, talking of supervision! (You don’t care about supervision, I realise, but then again you care even less about stuff in brackets. Somebody should write a script to just strip them out of blog posts.) I’ve been moving around supervisors this term. Grad students, mostly, and the combination of the two makes most people imagine it would be really annoying, but it’s not. It’s really, really not – as I try and stress to my anxious DoS – partly because grad students are relatively young and seem eager to do a good job, so you get pages and pages of feedback on essays. I love it! And finally someone has taken to commenting on my writing style: sorely needed, because I’m not sure it’s changed from GCSE. (In fact, after this blog post I’m going to e-mail him about tenses. That’s right – what a truly exciting life I lead!)
Anywayyy – Abi and I made it to London and to the National Theatre to see Russell. He was being interviewed by Benjamin Cook to promote their book – The Writer’s Tale – which is a collection of e-mails between the two during the making of Series Four of Doctor Who. But it’s really not just another ‘making of’ book – marvellous as that would no doubt be – but a vivid insight into the writing process as it happens, with all of the pain and raw emotions that go along with it. Sanna would love it, and I mean that entirely genuinely and not just as a sneaky way to foist Doctor Who on her. I love his conception of the Maybe – that living collection of half-formed ideas bubbling in your head as you go about with life – because, even though I’m certainly no writer, I do have a faint echo of it myself. I think everyone does, really. Like with this blog, actually, which came to me in fragments of sentences which I’m desperate to write before they go. Or with the little silly things I make – like that poster which kept me up last night, possibly contributing to the stressy morning – which all begin as small but burning ideas. I may get mocked sometimes for doing such things, but believe me, for every cartoon or political rant there are many more ideas that pop into my head which later morph out of all recognition or are simply discarded. Mostly when I’m walking, actually, and I have to make a note on my phone whilst trying to keep an eye out for bicycles.
I’m writing all of this because I started reading said book on the train back home, of course, which is crazy – I never read on trains as it gives me headaches. (Well, it was dark outside and that helps. But still.) I also queued to get it signed, and have enormous respect for the fact that having spent an hour signing books people like Russell and Benjamin can pull off that trick of generating a five second conversation of more than mere pleasantries. It must be horrible, I suppose, continually generating new conversations with people at such a rapid rate without being disappointing. But hey – they did, and also both signed it for me, Tash and Katie, which was most generous. There you go, Katie, I’ve paid you back for the Peter Davison autograph now! Cleverly I later managed to pour Coke over the book, but luckily not fatally and somehow it makes the book feel even more like my copy. Y’know, the copy with stains.
The coke-spilling occurred during a lovely dinner afterwards on the South Bank with Abi and two of her school friends. I love that part of London, I really really do. That bridge across the Thames is just so utterly magical – the big, bright pulsing life of the city stretched before you, moonlight competing with the urban glow to reflect on the river until a boat cuts through, filled with people. I cannot imagine, as I walk across that bridge, why anyone would want to live behind neat suburban hedgerows and driveways. It’s a lie, of course: almost no-one actually lives in amongst that London, and the people that do are mostly huddling under the bridge for warmth and begging for small change. But it doesn’t matter, not with the imagined community of a city – even a city of millions upon millions of people. (Especially so, in fact.) It doesn’t matter at all.
Abi’s school friends were very interesting, by the way. (Will they read this? No, it’s OK, of course they won’t read this. No matter anyway, I’m only going to be nice!) Smart, confident, alive. Just like most people on Earth, of course. (Even though one of them voted for Boris – but that’s OK, I enjoy talking to such people really. It’s much more fun than the careful dance you have to do when talking to someone you agree with, where you’re constantly nervous you’ll stumble across a tiny split that will wedge you apart. And the morning after Obama’s victory, the conversation I had with two right-wing friends was more insightful, I think, than simply victory cheers.) But yes – it’s always fascinating to meet other people’s old school friends. A little insight into the millions of parallel worlds of friendship groups that exist, and a chance for me to secretly wish I could cast a seductive spell and tempt such people into the comprehensive school system (apologies), where they’d be such stars.
God, I must shut up. Goodnight! It’s alright, it’s alright, to be standing in a line (standing in a line)…