Swiv's Idea of University

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Swiv's Idea of a University: part IV

So last time Mary was cleaning, right. Well, since then Dave and I have split it not quite evenly. Jack hasn't lifted a broom – although given his cooking, I'm not sure I'm actually keen to see his cleaning...

Yes, it's been that kind of week, everyone has been getting on each other's nerves – or rather Jack and Mary have been getting on the nerves of Clare, Dave and I, and vice versa I'm sure. The dreaded divide has appeared once again – though admittedly no-one has been doing much too undivided it as we've entered the morass of deadlines that is St Andrews pre-Reading Week (we get Week 7 off to 'read'). So I cleaned the house from top to toe, and then Clare and Mary – who share a room – have been sniping at each other. Or more precisely, Mary's been tetchy with Clare, and Clare's been pretty much avoiding her to prevent herself snapping back. Meanwhile, I'm living in my room pretending to work (well, about half the amount of time I'm working for is actually constructive...) Oh its fun! Not to depress you I'll switch topics swiftly. The last essay went very nicely thank you, coherent arguments, bang-up conclusion, just hope my tutor agrees with me. Now the next one is upon me, and I'm absorbing (no really) official histories about the nature of the First World War outside Europe. Nearly all of my books for this were published before 1925, since the library doesn't stock any others.

Brief note – St Andrews University library sucks, it's a recognised fact. It doesn't open 24 hours, there's limited computer access, and incredibly limited book supply. In addition, I'm sharing the World War I resources with around 200 first year modern historians, a good chunk of whom will always want to do that essay option since they 'know things' about it and think it'll be easy (it never is). On my whole reading list (a good 10 pages I reckon) there is one book that appears as though it would be very useful – and the library doesn't seem to think it exists. So I've been reading about the Desert campaigns, in which apparently the British Empire's armies (especially the ANZACs) were very good sports, and had horse racing in the desert between battles. I took a brief digression to watch Lawrence of Arabia – possibly about as historically accurate as the incredibly biased official army histories, and twenty thousand times more fun.

The excitement of the past fortnight has been the Rectoral Election. Our Rector, Andrew Neil, gets to stand down at the end of the year, so we've been electing his successor. Candidates included Sir Clement Freud (of Just a Minute, and an ex-Liberal MP), Germaine Greer (her of feminist fame) and Barry Joss (ex-St Andrews student, failed to find a famous nominee to stand, so stood himself). The hecklings were actually fairly dull, considering, despite there being pot-shots in the press about Freud's age (classic quote on being asked if at 78 he was too old for the job: 'It is only temporary, I fully intend on being 79 next year.') and the anti-Germaine Greer lobby being forceful, and making arses of themselves. So, Greer took part in a reading of Lysistrata (if that's how you spell the Greek play…) in which the women go on a sex-strike to stop the men going off to war, Freud's fans mooned a message of support outside St Salvator's Hall, and Joss's team made much of him being a 'local guy'. End result: Sir Clement Freud is our new Rector, a fact of which I personally quite approve.

After all that excitement, I betook myself to Glasgow for the weekend, to participate in S.A.M.U.R.A.I, of which I'm sure you'll be able to hear more, elsewhere.


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