scribbles tagged ‘undergrad’

practical pairings (pt 5) – working fiction

Monday, July 26th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

Coursework finished 4 hrs before the 4pm submission deadline. A large vegetarian Kebab from the local take-away would make a grand treat for finishing with time to spare. I pounced fluffily across campus in the invigorating October sun.


Someone was running across the road towards me. I didn’t recognise the run, the outline, or the clothes. As he faded into my myopic focus I could see his black mohiecan haircut was lankily lying along his scalp and that his misshapen faded t-shirt had all the style of a salted slug.


Apparantly he’d had some sort of terrible time that involved lots of drugs, and rainbow hairdye experiments, that went horribly wrong. He was lucky to have any hair at all. Poor boy. He didnt get my messages. He tried to call for me but I was never in and my flatmates hadn’t passed on the messages he’d written.  But now he found me, just in time, 4 hours before the coursework submission deadline.

have you done the coursework?


can I borrow it?


so I can copy it and hand in the same work as you



You should let your tutor know about the problems you’ve been having, they’ll be able to arrange your coursework around your porblems. You could still get the full benefit of actually doing the work. Maybe they’ll give you an extension. I wouldn’t want your reputation sullied by the blemishes of having your name on my work.

Steve found Karen who leant him her work to copy, he wrote a piece of coursework in 4 hours, got reasonable grades for someoneelses work, for a firction, he was good at working fiction.

practical pairings (pt 5) – working fiction
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practical pairings (pt 4) – elusive

Sunday, July 25th, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

10 more days to produce a joint practical report. Each day I walked passed Steve’s home and called for him. He was always either out, off his head, or sleeping. He didn’t turn-up for classes either.  I suspect he was really living in Pill village.

After a week of not being able to coordinate any sensible time with Steve I decided to cut my losses.  Doing the work in half the allotted time, with half the workers, my maths told me this would be 4 times as hard to do now because I’d tried to work with Steve. Sigh. No more calling for Steve. Hoorah!

The experimental work, persuading 20 people, all strangers, to give me 15 mins of their time to make 30 line-length comparisions was a fun way to meet people in pubs. The research for, and writing of, the report was also fun.

Steve was soon forgotten.

practical pairings (pt 4) – elusive
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practical pairings (pt 3) – doors of perception

Saturday, July 24th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

Paul let me into Steve’s home. Student accomodation, 9 boys sharing a kitchen and washrooms. Ewe. Steve was lying face-down on the hallway floor making a gurgling sound that could have been a variation on his normal giggling.

what’s wrong?

he’s stoned


No, high

I laughed. Steve had already started without me. Our coursework was an experimental study of the effects of the Muller-Lyer illusion characteristics on visual perception.  Steve had clearly bypassed the constraints of the specific illusion, the visual sense and the experimental method. Steve had gone straight for an immersive qualitative experiential study through the doors of all perception.  You had to admire his rebellious,  innovative and hands on approach to his degree studies.

I’d heard about drugs, not taken any, not really interested in taking any. The opportunity to talk to someone while stoned was a first for me and very tempting. Our interviewing skills practical wasn’t due for a while, but a bit of up front practice could come in handy.  Happily I bounced over Steve’s twitching body, sat on the floor by his head and tried to attract his attention.  He garbled and giggled and gurgled, but nothing recognisable as a word, no phrases. I got bored of watching this body with all the control skills of baby.

when is he likely to be compus mentus?

I dont know

can you let him know I called and ask him to call for me when he’s got his marbles together


practical pairings (pt 3) – doors of perception
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practical pairings (pt 2) – posing practice

Friday, July 23rd, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

Not cute, like Brad Pitt or Jonny Depp are cute.

Not handsome, like Daniel Craig or Sean Connery are handsome.

Steve had something, like Robert Carlisle or Gary Oldman have something.

Instead of working on our psychology practical coursework we spent an October Saturday afternoon wandering round warehouses, photographing them. Steve giggled a lot, like my grandmother or Alan Carr giggle.  Often. I wandered after him, playing the audience, taking photographs, and enjoying the peace of the places.  Practical work? We can start on Monday, no hurry….

practical pairings (pt 2) – posing practice
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practical pairings (pt 1)

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

lecturer: you will work on this psychology practical in  pairs

Ony 2 weeks at University, one as a fresher and one on the course. It was easy to predict how the 29 girls and 3 boys would pair:

  • Tom, from Dudley, the folk music fan would pair with Rob the straight looking, quiet, guy. Rob was sectioned less than 2 weeks later.
  • Steve with his white and lime green mohiecan haircut, white leather biking jacket, gold nose-ring, black and bleached stained never-ending drainpipes would pair with Karen the silent dumpy shuffling goth who reminded me of a doormouse in need of a haircut.
  • The gaggle of girls who dressed for their intended career paths as personnel managers in neatly ironed pastel coloured blouses and pencil skirts would all pair together.
  • Heather from Sheffield, in her Def Lepoard t-shirt, locks that bounced on her hips, cowboy boots and a laugh that could stop a bus at 100 yards – would pair with her flatmate – me. I definitely got the best deal.  Me, straight a-line bob, pointy nose, cheshire-cat-grin and home-made 1920’s styled hand-made clothes in black and white.

I was wrong with two predictions.  Without a glance her way Steve strode straight passed Karen, placing himself between Heather and me.  There was something sneaky and slinky about the move. His first conversation with me was to ask if I would consider working with him on this practical.  I was flattered. People who clearly put so much time and effort into peacocking rarely noticed my acceptable variation on mainstream self-presentation. What prompted this?

Karen’s hand lifted a swathe of black backbrushed bush from her face and her piecing brown eyes clearly shifted from Steve to me. She turned abrubtly and shuffled double-speed in her overly tight long skirt, to Heather. Heather welcomed her with all the warmth of an earth mother. My already strong relationship with Heather wouldn’t be dented by this unexpected abberation.

I agreed to work with Steve, we arranged to meet that weekend ….

practical pairings (pt 1)
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running out of change

Monday, March 16th, 2009 | tags: , , , , ,  |

In the early 1980’s student’s didn’t have mobile phones.  

I lived in downtown Birmingham on the 18th floor of a towerblock full of students.   The towerblock  had one,    ONE,  public phone in the entrance way.   Always a long queue  and no soundproof surround.     I rarely phoned mumsie.   Only when I was near a phone booth that didn’t have half a dozen people queuing  to use it.   Normally this would be  in the early hours of the morning at gig’s.     I would use the change I had saved for the bus home to call mumzie.     She wasn’t always best-pleased by my sense of timing.   The calls went something like

Wendy:   Helllllloooooooo mumsie!

Mumsie: do you know what time it is?

Wendy: It’s TIME to call mumzie!

Mumsie:   Have you been drinking?

Wendy:   could well be!

Mumsie:   Oh Gwendolyn!   Are you eating properly?

Wendy:   Chips and curry sauce fresh, ahem,  from the van,   YUMMY!

Mumsie:   we worry about you darling

Wendy:   ARRRRR!   You’re so sweet,   there’s no need to worry mum,   I’m nearly all grown up but I’m fast running out of change…


Mumsie:   goodnight dear, take care…

One such call happened  after listening to the live version of this little gem…

Spear of Destiny sing They’ll never take me alive

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first geek experience

Monday, June 5th, 2006 | tags: , ,  |

11 in Yardley 1

Originally uploaded by BrilliantMistake.


Note: this is a repost of a deleted post where the formatting totally f*******-up my whole blog lay-out. Apologies to people with RSS feed who saw all my attempts to correct the formating.   You’ll have to squint to read the  paragraphs because using copy and paste for the repost hasn’t worked,   I can’t work out how to get back to the default font size for this post

My first experience of ‘geekism’ was meeting ‘Transport Management’ students at the Univeristy of Aston in Birmingham. One student had wall-papered his room with the Birmingham bus schedule.   He had a telescope that he used to check whether the buses were running on time. Another had his room full of blown-up photographs of the aeroplane’s that he had flown on. I went on a day trip with three of them to Stratford upon Avon train station. We never left the train station.   We wandered around photographing the trains. One lad went on to become an Air Traffic Controller.   Another lad drives armoured gold bullion vans.   His quirk was kissing cars, he would kiss any beautiful car he saw. Once on a very cold day he left the  skin of his lips on a red Porche. Transport students were strange, very happy, individuals. Their enthusiasm was infectious.   From them I developed the skill to love the  circular, octagonal, windy 11c Birmingham city bus route. The Transport students  understood. They lived in the house with mice.   They didn’t mind because their love of  Transport seemed to fill their hearts blinding them to many, personally  insignificant,  details of social conformity.   In the picture above the 11c bus route is portrayed as an oblong with gently curved corners.

Can you feel the love?

Shall I go back into my hole now or later?

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outer circle

Thursday, May 4th, 2006 | tags: , , , ,  |


Unlimited travel, freedom printed on my West Midlands Travel  pass.   Buses, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.   Trains too!   No more planning my journeys by cost or parental good will.  No-one I knew could afford a car.   Riding Double Decker buses above the driver with views across the city and into first-floor rooms of street lining houses.   Everything is on show through those windows: loneliness; lovemaking; waiting; TV watching; eating;  arguments; cats watching me watching them.

Sunday riding  the “outer circle”, route 11.   A circle by name,   squished octagonal by map, and  voluptuous curvacious rolling ride by road.   Either way if you keep going long enough  you  end up right back where you started.   The route  is strewn with churches, graveyards, suburbs, slums, shopping streets,   industrial ‘parks’ and other passengers.    A couple made love on the back seat of the upper deck.     When they noticed me noticing them we all giggled.   I respected their location choice because its warm, dry, relatively private,  and best of all it lacks  the scent of rotting mice

West Midlands Transit Map - SQUINT!


Commuters reading books.    A lady explains to her phone  how to treat dry skin then takes its  advice on using a  tea-bag to treat a sore eye.   Everyone looked busy,   except me.    Passengers  in another part of Seattle could make a very different impression.    I wanted to ride the buses ’til the sun had long set and  the buses carried me home,  tired and sated.     But

My stop.      Temporarily mislaid freedom.

Maybe Sunday….

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of mice and maturing

Sunday, April 30th, 2006 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

1985 (Assume poetic licence  with the precision of dates and details.   The story has  changed with  fermentation in memory.   The gist of the story is consistent with the orginal experience.)

I   rented a room near ‘The Mermaid’ in a small  Sparkhill red-brick terraced house shared with four girls.   Bambi rented a room  in a Handsworth  red brick terraced house  shared with four boys.   Two bus rides, an hour, apart.   Neither house had a telephone.   We were poor.   We were young.

Bambi’s house smelt of rotting mice.   It was infested.  The neighbours houses were infested.   The whole area was infested.   Everyone lived with the mice.  Mice would dash for cover when you entered a room, switched on a light, moved suddenly.   The boys would play at trying to jump on, squash,  mice before they reached cover.   Several  squashed mice decorated the floor in the front room.   The floor was also decorated with chair-side piles of empty beer cans and chris-crossed with glittering slug trails.    A milk bottle containing a dead mouse sat on the fireplace mantle; gently warmed by the gas fire on colder days.   The mouse had climbed in voluntarily when the bottle lay on the floor then, unable to climb out,  starved to death.   The boys treated  the bottled mouse  as a trophy.   Some mice died more peacefully of old age under the floor boards.   Then rotted.   I’ll never forget the overwhelming stench of rotting mouse.   It’s integrally bound with first love.  It filled your lungs and scented your sweat during the deep breaths of love making.   It seems appropriate that I read Ian McEwan’s “First Love, Last Rites” in this house.  

Early on a brightly lit  summer evening I turned-up to meet  Bambi.   He wasn’t in.  In other homes I would make myself at home with a cup of Tea.   Not here. Concerns about household hygiene.   The mice-droppings on the kitchen work surfaces and stench were an effective deterrent to eating or drinking.   I picked a book from Bambi’s collection and  opened a window in a futile attempt to release the seemingly endless odour.   With my head by the open window I  started to read ‘the catcher in the rye.    My first American novel.   The sun gradually set.   Sodium pink, then yellow, street lights lit the pages.    The mice scuttled over the silence.   Lost in the story I forgot about the planned evening with Bambi.    Despite knowing  very little about the places,  symbols,  or lifestyle outlined in the book it felt powerfully relevant to  the loneliness of that night, madness of  youth,  and pains of new found adulthood.  

I finished the novel as Bambi arrived.

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