February 25th, 2007


I see Cloud Mountains

It's been a few days since I returned from Berlin. I've spent them largely doing very little, although for the first two days, that was through a combination of exhaustion and finally being able to do nothing after the mad essay rushes of last week. It irks me how I weather out all these self-inflicted Drama Queen essay-rush sessions, because I'm lacking in the impetus not to do it again. I'd start on the next batch at once, but I've an assessed presentation on Wednesday Morning, so that takes immediate priority. Communication and Media in the 19th Century...one of those topics it'd be easy to spend weeks on, but which I only need 10 minutes of information on. It's not even going to form one of my essay topics, as I'll be doing either Religion or War in the 19th Century.

So...Berlin. I'll update on that a little later (I promise!). It was generally four days of endless rushing from site to site, helped a huge amount through our familiarity with the German Capital, which still remains my favourite city. I was trying to work out just why whilst I was there. I think it is because Berlin doesn't have a main focus, and doesn't take itself as seriously as London or Paris. The Brandenberg Gate had hardly anyone around it at 8pm one evening, which contrasts somewhat with the Eiffel Tower, for example. It manages to feel like a smaller city than it is: that appeals to me. I also remain unaware of an equivalent to the Sony Center, with its late-night coffee bars. I daresay I'll make a few visits there next year, wherever I end up next year (I ought to know roughly where very soon.) I'm still processing the results of the trip: I took around 420 photos, of which around two-thirds are up on Facebook. I'm only just listening to the last of the CDs I bought: Schandmaul's latest CD, 'Mit Leib und Seele', from which I've fallen in love with the track 'Wolkenberge' (Mountains of Cloud). It makes me want to stand on a cliff over the sea during a storm with arms outstretched.

I've not been totally idle since Wednesday, however. I attended the University Challenge trials on Thursday and had my ego hit hard. I came 23rd out of about 30 people. Judging from people's scores, however, that was largely because I took a long time over it, and that was largely spent trying to remember the girls' names from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. I was also unlucky in how many of the questions were literal and scientific. I'm very annoyed at myself still for getting two questions wrong which I really ought to have got right. One was a mad panic whilst I was trying to go as quickly as possible, and one was a mindslip that really ought to put me in the doghouse, considering the topic was Modern German History. Had I got those two right, I'd have progressed to the next round, but...oh well. I've another two years to try, and I'll make the team someday, because I know I'm capable enough. Okay, so that's pretentious, but in these past few months, I've been feeling a little lost in where I'm going. I'd like some definite achievements to point at, steps to use to climb up to the rest of my life. I'm still finding it hard getting the motivation to write, however, and my post at the Orbital has come to the end with the announcement that there is no sixth issue this year, for which I'd prepared several articles. I've still to inform the various contributors that their work won't be published, which is a little demoralising, but all in all, I reckon I've done a very good job in my tenure as Travel Editor. The post won't exist next year, though, as the board has undergone radical structural changes, so I'm back to being freelance.

Historical Re-enacment had a Pirate Social on the Friday evening. This involved half the society getting various degrees of drunk on rum whilst watching Pirates of the Caribbean 2. Rum being the spirit I can most stomache, I had a little, but only enough to make me a little light-headed. It was a fun evening all in all, ending with some of us watching Master & Commander, some of us fast asleep, and some of us wearing eyeliner in odd patterns. I have photos to prove this. I take a lot of photos.

Reading Week is thus over, and it's back to the Grinding Mill. I can take some consolation that it's the last of the Mill before October 2008, and so I'm going to endaevour to remain on top of things. This means that I need to make a start on the essays as soon as the presentation is over. I wanted to start on Kafka, but I'm aware that the deadlines for three other essays come before that one, so I might try the aforementioned 19th Century one. I need to make an effort, anyhow.