Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Bjork’s Shoes

I want these shoes! More than I’ve wanted a lot of things. I’d pick these shoes over a banjo. That is how much these shoes. I mean, look at them!


I’ve wanted chunky neon multi-coloured trainers since I saw some woman in Iceland wearing similar once last December. The woman turned out to be Bjork, which I didn’t found out until after she had left, but that’s not the point. THE SHOES. Nike allows you to design them yourself, which I thought would massively bring up the price, but no! £90!Relatively reasonable, considering I’m a person who never buy shoes. WHY couldn’t they be something ridiculous like £250?

Monday, 29 August 2011

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Last Saturday (the day after my mini-meltdown), a friend of mine sent me a message which read, ‘I wondered if you were free tomorrow to see 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' with me in Covent Garden at 7.30pm? One of my Uni friends is in it and I’m really keen to go.’

I’m a little bit ashamed to admit I dithered. ‘Do I really want to spend all that time in buses and trains, and get home really late?’ I asked myself. ‘Can I afford to buy overpriced London food and watch an amateur student production of a Shakespeare play I’ve seen before?  It’s all so last minute, last minute things are categorically bad.’

It was this last thought which pushed me over the edge. Last minute things are categorically bad?! Really, Fiona? Stuff that, I’m a 19-year-old student and I’m going to London to see a play!

And so, I did. On the train I read some more of my current time-passer, ‘Daughter of Fortune’ by Isabel Allende, and after that my friend and I enjoyed an acceptably-priced, remarkably tasty Italian meal in the centre of the Covent Garden Market.

After looking at our map for five minutes, we then realised we were siting in the shadow of the very church where the performance would take place and, giggling at out bad geography skills, we took our seats in the pews.

It was, without a doubt, one of the best productions of a Shakespeare play I have ever seen. The acting, though somewhat overblown in one or two of the performers, was overall of a high standard considering none were professionals, and to be honest you could have easily fooled me. Two of the fairies moved gracefully and ferally all at once, embodying not only with their voice but also with their bodies the other-worldly nature of Shakespeare’s creatures. Though half of the costumes were a disappointing classic 1940s get-up – a go-to for the producers of current theatre, it seems; I think I’ve seen more wartime Shakespeare than Elizabethan – the other half (the fairies) were magnificent. Bright, flouncy, elaborate, very circusesque, accented by striking face paint. Oberon was thin and tall as a stick, and his consort, Titania was majestic and fearsome and beautiful. They were without doubt my favourites of the two, and it seemed to me they had been drawn straight from the pen of Shakespeare. Bottom the Weaver’s performance was equally gratifying though for a very different reason – but simply, he was hilarious. The young actor moved about the stage with a confidence and surety of a far more experienced man, and oftentimes had both my friend and myself in literal tears of laughter. It all ran so smoothly and captivatingly that it only occurred to me at the end that there hadn’t been a single Act divide, and I hadn’t been bored once, which can tend to happen in older plays for me as the pace slows or the language thickens. There’s another thing; never before have I so clearly understood Shakespeare’s language because of the way in which all of the lines were delivered. I hardly realised that the expressions were foreign and had no difficulty following what was going on, despite the fact that the play was performed in a large, echoing stone church.

So all in all, a very good show, and I’m glad I went.

Oh, and did I mention? The student company was a company from Oxford, the friend a friend from school who is studying German and History at Oxford in the college where I’d initially wanted to apply (Worcester) before Exeter threw itself in my path, and we spent the whole time chatting about her experiences and my expectations of studying German and living life at Oxford. Yes, the whole thing was dripping in Oxford and not one melt-down in sight.

Insert. Sigh of relief. Here.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Approach of University

Do you know why I haven’t written here for a while? It’s because I know what I’m like:


Apologies aside, let me tell you about my plans! I love planning. It’s like playing The Sims in my head. Except I can do it all the time, and nobody burns the kitchen down making cheese on toast.

Well, as you might know if you know me, University is approaching. I’ve probably complained about it enough that you're aware of what I’ll be studying (German, reluctantly) and where (Exeter College, Oxford). Additionally, if you’re a creepy stalker or a family member you’ll know that term begins on the 9th of October. Before that, I’m going on a two-week holiday to Catalonia in Spain, where I’ll visit a friend in Barcelona for a long weekend and then stay at my godparents’ house in a coastal village with some other friends. They like books a lot.

But, as the French horoscope which I read last Christmas in a run-down house in central Reykjavik with a French nursery teacher, a Belgian school teacher and a German saxophonist (see? I have a point about Iceland!) said, your life will begin in October. No, really. It was that specific.

So, what do I expect University will be like?

Firstly, I expect that it’ll be a lot of work. As in, I can’t imagine how much it will be because I can’t conceptualise writing two essays a week in addition to studying a hell of a lot of dense German garbage/literary gold. I hope that the fact that I am fluent in German will help me a bit, but I know that that’s not going to be enough. Even though I’m not much looking forward to the course, there are a couple of things which I reckon I’ll be able to enjoy – expressionism, the films, the medieval text, Rilke – and I’ve had a peek at the second year modules. I am convinced that an Old Norse module will make up for any amount of pretentious blathering by Nietzsche and Thomas Mann.

My third year is a year abroad, one which is intended to perfect your German, improve your experience of the German culture and – a gift from heaven – not really count towards your degree academically. I hope that I can persuade/bully/beg enough that I may spend at least part of my year either studying or working in a Scandinavian country (Iceland, here I come), and the other half either studying Scandinavian Studies in a German University or working on a cow farm in the Alps. Not quite decided yet. Swaying toward the cow farm at the moment, though.

I’m not going to University for the course, so I’m not going to push myself to extinction. Still, I know it’ll be very much thinking and writing and twisting and pushing and crying and hopefully some really gratifying discussions and illuminating trips. I’m going to go at this like an angry bull, and I’m going to win!

Oh, and then there’s the social life.

I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about people taking on too much and having a mental breakdown, or blowing hundreds of pounds on joining all the societies they’re interested in and never attending. I’ve also heard of friends who didn’t join anything and spent the year watching their toenails grow.

The result? After a vague poke through the university website, I’ve decided I will fill my spare time like this:

1) An LASR course in Spanish. Two hours a week for a year, I will learn Spanish. This is something I’ve wanted to master for a long time, and though I only started to teach myself about a week and a half ago, I think the time has come. Or should I say, llega la hora! 

2) Kayaking and Canoeing.  What sounds like more fun than splashing about the cold Thames in a wet suit? No, you don’t agree? I DO!!! When I lived in Florida, my Mum and neighbour took me kayaking a couple of times and I remember loving how close you are to the water, how smooth and small and integrated you feel, gliding through the Mangroves like a water bug. I’d love to kayak around Greenland, or down the Mississippi, or into Scotland. Also, I don’t mind falling in.

3) Shorinji Kempo. Not heard of it? I hadn’t either until I found it listed under the ‘Martial Arts’ section. A quick read-through gave me a good feeling – it’s based on what the Shaolin Monks did, but it’s non-violent and (compared to other martial arts) relatively non-competitive. It’s supposed to be almost like a dance, but it works your muscles just as any other martial art would. I used to quite like doing judo and I’ve still got my gi (the white suit). Here’s hoping it fits!

4) Music! Oxford’s music scene is very comprehensive, experimental and right up my street. I don’t want to spend the whole time there only with students from the university, so this is an awesome way of meeting other people who live in Oxford, and maybe join a group of musicians who like to have a good time playing instruments and writing songs. Even if this utopian mecca of musicians doesn’t appear, there are plenty of open-mic nights and other gigging opportunities so I’m going to sharpen up my singing and guitar playing and hopefully find a handful of others who I can play and write with.

5) Scandinavian Society. They organise Scandinavian movie nights. They love Scandinavia. There is NO reason for me not to make this club my life.

I’ve heard from so many people that the motto of the university isn’t actually Dominus Illuminatio Mea, but Work Hard, Play Hard. Sounds good to me!

Well, I guess I’ll see you on the flip-side…

xxx Fiona