Apologies for the long absence. I will try to blog more often in 2014, but I can’t promise a return to regular service. My MSc is becoming far too demanding now.

It’s not the workload exactly, though that is… not insubstantial. It’s more that as it continues, the course lays greater and greater emphasis on teamwork. We had a project to complete in every module last semester, and now we are facing into the most important one of all. Known, with unnerving simplicity, as the ”The Major Project”, it is effectively our Masters thesis.

Can you imagine that, those of you who have postgraduate degrees – thesis by team? Your group assessment of Sylvia Plath’s earlier work? Your collective opinion of mediaeval Italian prosody? Weird.

And for me, alien. I simply have no experience of working in teams. I am a loner – to the point at times of social dysfunctionality. I’ve always been self-employed, generally liaising only with an editor, often being left entirely alone to do my art thing.

I’ve never even played team games. Sure, they try to make you in school. But you notice what they forget? To tell you how. It’s like you’re meant to be born knowing the rules of soccer or whatever. So sport as I understood it largely meant standing in the cold, wondering what the hell was expected of me. Occasionally a crowd would thunder in my general direction and, yes, then there might be some instructions. But even these would tend to be lamentably short on detail and clarity.

Idea note_20140102_024447_02While I’m here, can I mention something else to sport-obsessed educators? Children don’t learn teamwork from adult-size sides. Eleven or fifteen kids is not a team. lt’s a pack.

Thanks in part to this misguided introduction to cooperation I was a pretty hopeless team player at first – and especially, leader. You know the saying “I never ask my people to do something I couldn’t do myself”? My variation was to never ask anyone to do a thing I hadn’t done already. But I think I’ve learned to relax and trust people more.

Which leads me back to my point. Working for myself, I can justify taking a break in all sorts of ways. Maybe I need it, maybe I deserve it. Maybe I just feel like it – I’m the boss after all. Now compare that to a teamwork situation where not only my own degree, and hence my future, depends on the work I put in, but the futures of three or four other people. That’s a whole different standard of pressure.

So between now and the end of June, I guess I’m going to be keeping it pithy.

Cosmography Humour

Soccer, Summer, And Fish

It’s more frightened of you than you are of it. You have a knife.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I actually liked soccer, but I hate it. I’ve always hated it. Like so much in childhood, it was something you had to do whether you liked it or not. To add a sadistic twist though, you were expected to enjoy it. It was a treat.

I hated it because I was no good at it. So no good at it. When picking sides, captains would pretend they couldn’t see me. As a child I was breathless, thin, unathletic. But that wasn’t the problem. The reason I was really bad at soccer was that it couldn’t hold my attention. You stood in part of a field. After what seemed like hours, another boy would run past you with a ball. Then your team mates would shout at you. Really, whose side was I on? That of all these angry people calling me names, or the perfectly harmless passer-by? Soccer was long periods of boredom punctuated with confusion and insults. Like school really, except in mud.

But if a nine year old boy comes up to an adult man – a middle-aged one, yet – and asks him to come play soccer, for some damn reason he agrees. Is it because I’ve finally been picked? Maybe, but I think it’s more that I was asked. Not told. Not shoved out in the rain in baggy shorts and stupid clumpy boots. Asked, by a boy who wants to play with me just because he loves playing. Now I can enjoy it.

I’m still no bloody good though.

But not being good at soccer as a child is humiliating, alienating, dispiriting. Not being good at it as an adult is no big deal. The one real danger is that I’ll break my stupid bloody neck trying. Or in this instance, my spine. All right I didn’t actually break it, just bent it a bit. I’m only a tadge debilitated. And hey, it’s a proud masculine sports injury.

I tripped over the ball.

Bruising aside, it was a great day. I was asked out to see the Kinvara Farmers’ Market before it moves from its wonderful location (next month is the last chance to see, go if you can). Got some good fresh veg there, and even fresher fish. So fresh in fact that the thing in the picture above crawled out of it.

This is by no means a sign of bad fish – in fact it proves that it hasn’t been frozen. Such parasitic worms are actually far more common, especially in cod, than most fish-eaters realise. They’re… almost completely harmless, if the fish is cooked. (One reason that cod isn’t used in sushi.) You’ve probably eaten them many times without ill effect.

Except of course for any nausea you may be feeling, now that I’ve told you you’ve been eating worms.


That Pie In Full

Who owns this? No idea

First LulzSec last night, now a comedian attacking an old man with a pie, making the Murdochs at least 10% more sympathetic. Anarchists not helping.

Though James did help undo it a little with “The terrible, terrible incidence of voicemail interception around… whatshername.”

Nicola Blackwood is fairly impressive, but her cuteness makes me feel like we’re only looking at her larval stage.


Poor Questions

Some of these questioners seem very amateurish and unfocused. Not surprising I suppose – it’s an investigation designed by a committee. But do they really have two of the world’s most influential men here to ask them about the day-to-day running of newspapers? It’s like they’re taking advantage of the situation to ask things they’d always wondered, and it’s giving the Murdochs opportunities to paint themselves in brighter colours.

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