Saturday, December 31, 2005


Yes, I know, New Year's Resolutions are dull and pointless and everyone gives up the diet after 3 days. However, after being asked what the fuck I'm doing with my life by a friend a couple of weeks ago, I have thought about it a bit. So here's how I see my life changing in the next year or so:
  1. Stop being a fat slug. Once upon a time I was young and it didn't matter if I didn't do much exercise. Now, however, I am starting to feel unhealthy. I'm going to try to cycle to work and eat more fruit and vegetables.
  2. Buy a house. I want to live near the Outdoors and see hills and trees and things. Also I want to buy a house so we have somewhere to live when we are pensionable.
  3. Become more content. I want to be happier with myself and my life and I want to do more things that I like doing.

Maybe it will happen...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's not like I haven't tried...

Why aren't I asleep? Is it because:

(a) I have a cold so I keep sneezing and blowing my nose?
(b) My brain is busy thinking about all the different things I want to do so won't go to sleep?
(c) I'm a big fat slug who just sits around not doing enough exercise to actually need any sleep?
(d) All of the above?

If you answered (d), well done!

This has given me some insight into why Matt is quite often tired. Every time I sneezed, he would half wake up, fumble for the light and mutter "shush-shush-shush-it's-ok". Which is presumably what he does every time I have one of my weird nightmares. Poor boy...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bell x1

Are you as bored of reading about my essay as I am of writing it? Thought so...

On Monday I went to see a band called Bell x1. It was a brilliant gig and they played my two favourite songs - Eve, the apple of my eye and I'll see your heart and raise you mine. Eve... can be listened to on the website, as can Tongue, which I really like. At the moment, for me it's about reclaiming my life and trying to make it how I want it to be.

Usually when I listen to music, it's on CD. On the website you can watch the music video. I've never really watched music videos much and I fidn them slightly odd. Like with Eve, the apple of my eye, there's someone with half an apple for a head who eventually dances with someone else with half an apple for a head. What's that all about?

Then, watching music live... again, it's a kind of odd experience. Bell x1's first abulm, when I listen to it, seems quite gentle most of the time. But the lead singer does weird dancing on stage, which gives it much more of an edge.

I'm waffling. I'm going back to the essay... Just listen to the music - it's very good...

Friday, December 09, 2005


I'm trying (still) to write my essay: "The contribution of constructivism to understandings of states in International Political Economy: a critical analysis". This title I kind of chose myself.

1. Critical analysis seems very unlikely at the moment. I don't even know what I'm talking about a lot of the time.

2. I have about 3,000 words at the moment. The finished essay should be 3,500. However, I'll have to take out quite a lot of the words I have at the moment and put some different ones in.

3. I get very easily distracted by the internet.

4. I'm not sure that my essay will relate to IPE either. IPE seems to be both everything and nothing.

5. I'm becoming a hermit. I just sit at home and read books and write about what they say. I was in my pyjamas (technically they're Matt's - they're longer and warmer than mine and much more suitable for being in all day) and the only reason I got dressed at all was because I'm going to see the Levellers later today and I thought I probably should be.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Well, I can see the ladder...

Our house is beautiful. Everyone agrees on this.

Well, except me. For some reason, I’m not keen on it. I just don’t like it. I’ve liked very other house I’ve lived in, even the flat with noisy neighbours, draughts windows, no heating or double glazing and a kitchen with one cupboard and no windows – draughty or not.

So I’ve thought about buying a house for ages. I want to live somewhere where we can do what we want, where it’s worth decorating, where I can do what I want with the garden. I think I have a slightly idealised idea of home ownership – but I also want to spend money on somewhere I can live when I’m decrepit rather than give it to my landlord. Meshal is very nice but it’s starting to feel like wasted money.

Matt and I have talked about it and on Saturday I rang up the bank and Made Enquiries. We can have a mortgage. Matt and I talked about it further. I want to rush off, look at houses, buy somewhere and hope for the best. Matt wants to save up enough money to pay solicitors’ fees.

As usual, we are doing the fairly sensible thing. We’re saving and I’m looking at houses on the internet and imagining… This is slightly complicated by Manchester being Very Big. I know some places in South Manchester. South Manchester can be split into areas which are unaffordable and areas which we don’t want to live in. North Manchester is cheaper but we know nothing about it. Then there’s Salford on the left and Tameside on the right. Salford’s out of the question as Matt lived there while at uni and doesn’t want to do it again.

So I imagine this state of affairs will continue for quite a few months… We may not be on the property ladder yet but at least I can see the bottom…

Sunday, November 27, 2005


I love blogging because a few of my favourite people in the world also blog, and one day I'm going to list my friends' blogs down the side of mine. It's great because I have running conversations with various people on their blogs and also on their friends' blogs. And I love seeing the different things people write about. Some are very serious, some are political, some are very silly (you know hwo you are. Yes, all of you). I keep in touch with friends from uni and also see what Matt's been up to. Here it is, 4.30am, I've just got in, and I check blogs to see if anyone's written anything new. Partly, I suspect, because Matt's on nights so it's an empty house... Partly just because I love my friends...

No, I haven't been drinking...

I've been out to a comedy night, Mark Steel talking about Che Guevera. Both funny and educational. I was plesaed to find out that all my friends were annoyed by the woman in front of me, who was laughing very obviously and loudly at things that weren't that funny, to impress the guy sitting next to her. It was an event organised by the Socialist Workers Party, in support of their paper, which gave the event an odd feel.

Then I volunteered at Nexus, which is a night cafe serving coffee and ordering taxis -s omewhere safe, warm and pleasant to get a taxi and/or a hot drink. It was very quiet and very dull for a couple of hours, then completely manic, and the coffee machine temporarily broke, there was confusion over taxis, and too many customers too fast. And then they all went away again, we washed up and shut up shop and all went home. It's fun, though tiring. I'm glad I wasn't in charge - it's nice to have someone else to ask questions...

Good night

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What does 'dog' mean anyway?

Not last night but the night before, as I was lying in bed, I started wondering 'does Matt still have a beard?' I just had a weird suspicion that he might not have. However, being a good person and having a modicum of self control I didn't reach over and pat his chin to find out.

Lo and behold, when he came home from work yesterday I scrutinised his chin and he had no beard. When did it go? 2 or 3 weeks ago... Did anyone else notice? Apparently not!

I'm working on my essay. I'm slightly behind with my reading - I'd hoped to have read all the stuff on my reading list for the seminar on constructivism by now and spend the next week writing up a vague outline which I could then build on, but I haven't managed it. I'm going to finish reading this afternoon, move on and hopefully come back to the reading later. Just remembered there's one very important article which I didn't finish reading because I hated it so much.

Constructivism is concerned with language and meaning. One thing constructivists argue over is what words refer to. Depending on your view of the world, there seems to be three options.

1. Words refer to things (referential)
2. Words refer to 'shared templates' - shared ideas
3. Words refer to other words

I'm confused.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Making the world

I've started reading for my essay and am really enjoying it. I'm considering the idea that political economy is a world made up of social relationships and that these can't be treated like natural science. It's based on shared understandings (intersubjective is used quite often) which are developed through the use of language.

It is fascinating, but slightly difficult to really get hold of in my head. As well as writing my essay on it, we'll be discussing it in the seminar tomorrow. I'll see how it goes, but hopefully it will help me with my thinking.

I've also been enjoying googlefight - sadly, 'Sarah' loses to 'Matt' - and being a zombie. It was Matt's birthday yesterday and Erin graduated (/cheer) so we went out on Saturday night for some drinks and then played Monkey Arena (disappointing) and Munchkin (would have been better if I won). All in all, a good weekend.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

All done!

I did my seminar presentation today and it was... ok. I won't be sure how it went until I speak to my tutor tomorrow. I feel slightly disappointed - I don't think I presented the arguments as well as I think the argument deserved and well enough to represent the sheer amount of time I've put into this. However, I've learnt loads through doing this: how to organise a piece of work, how long it takes to write something, and that I need to be more confident of my argument if I want to present it well. We also had a fairly heated debate afterwards - gender is an issue which most people have some sort of opinion about.

And Matt and I are having a small celebration tonight - we started going out 5 years ago today! Good timing as I can finally enjoy having some time off. But only a little - my essay is due in in less than 9 weeks...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Happy to be a loser!

I would like to draw your attention to this. £26.39, eh?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Getting worried

It's my seminar presentation on Tuesday and I'm starting to feel quite worried. I've been working really hard and found this really interesting theory about gender being socially constructed and hierarchical, which legitimises other hierarchies. Therefore, gender is a really useful analytical tool. However, I've only read stuff by one person which says this. I don't think it would be very impressive to do a seminar presentation where I, in effect, present someone else's theory. So now I'm panicking and trying to expand my seminar presentation somewhat. As I'm away this weekend, I have tonight (no Sanctus for me tonight, unfortunately) and tomorrow after work. Then I can work on Friday morning, read on the train there and back, and do some re-jigging Monday night. Not good though.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

M for Manchester, M for Martens

Over the past few days, the weather's been pretty bad. Apart from today, the hottest October in 170 years, or some other implausible amount of time (if it's longer than I've been alive, it's a bit unlikely, really. What are the chances that my parents had any sort of real life before I was born?). Every time I've left a building, buckets of water have emptied over my head. My jeans are soaked and flap wetly around my ankles. I hate being damp. And my left boot has had a crack in the sole for a while. So the water comes through and then I have a wet foot, and the next day I have to either put a wet boot on or wear my trainers which then get completely soaked through in the next torrential downpour.

However, now, thanks to Ryanofstoke, I have some new (well, new to me) Doc Martens. Thank you, ebay! And they're not black!!! My first ever not-black pair. Admittedly, they are midnight blue. So nearly black. The good thing about second-hand docs is that the initial wearing-in has been done. These still need a little work. But I'm pleased at the prospect of dry feet.

So here's my question - what impact has ebay had on charities? Because I used to buy my docs from charity shops and now I buy them from ebay. Do people sell stuff on ebay they would have sold in charity shops? Has anyone investigated this???

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Corpse Bride

Just went to The Cornerhouse to see the Corpse Bride. The film was good. It was a bit jumpy in places but not genuinely scary, though I didn't like the spiders... I heard that one reviewer said it was too scary for children but not really enough for adults in it and I think that's about right. The animation was charming, I loved the characters, it was enjoyable... but that's it. I think the story lacked something - some depth.

We had pizza afterwards and that was good. I had chicken, sweet chilli sauce and roasted peppers on mine. Mmmmmmm!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

On being a student

I had a seminar on marxism this morning, which I enjoyed much more. This is largely because we had a fire drill half way through, so we all went outside and stood and waited to go back in. So I was in a small group talking about the subject conversationally, rather than in the seminar environment. 10% of my mark for the module is based on contributions to the seminar, so it's much more pressured and combatative. There are people who become quite irate about certain things, and then ask questions that I don't understand. Also, sometimes I think I can make a point and then the lecturer looks at me in a manner which suggests "yes, and..." and I realise my point was quite, quite basic. Better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than open your mouth and be proved one, eh? However, I'm settling in more and getting used to the reading and the thinking and realising that a lot of other people find it hard too.

We watched Capturing the Friedmans on dvd a few nights ago, which is about a family falling apart after allegations of child abuse against two members of the family. What a strange film! Nothing was really answered. Had they done it? Who could we believe? What was likely? It seemed that no-one was telling the truth. We also had an interesting discussion about porn. Obviously, there are different levels of porn. There's paedophilic porn, which is wrong. Then there's standard top-shelf stuff, which I also think is wrong. And then there's things like FHM and loaded, which I would say is soft porn, though I know some people might disagree. For women, you can get top-shelf-style porn, but our discussion centred around soft porn for women. Are women's magazines (More, Cosmo, that sort of thing) soft porn? Is there a difference between porn for men and porn for women?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Gender (2)

I've been doing some reading about gender today. It was about how the world is masculinised - socially set up so that masculinity is considered superior to femininity and that masculinity is considered to be the norm. One thing it talked about is how this is used to exert social control: the idea that men are naturally aggressive and sexually demanding ind women are passive is used to excuse male rape behaviour (the 'she was asking for it by wearing a short skirt' defence). So women alter their behaviour to accommodate this by being careful about what they wear and about going out alone at night.

I had to go to the shop to buy some soy sauce for tea tonight, at about 9 o'clock. There was a weird man came and stood behind me in the queue. We were near a fireworks display. The conversation went like this...

Him: My cat hates fireworks. Do you have a cat?

Me: No, I don't really like them.

Him: Do you have a dog?

Me: My parents used to. But she dies.

Him: Oh, what sort?

Me: A mongrel.

He then proceeded to tell me that when he used to live in Ireland he used to shoot mongrels before he went foxhunting. This was when I started to think he was a bit odd. Then he said his dogs hated everyone, especially babies, and didn't I think it was nice when dogs attacked children? And that cats hate children too and kill them in a really evil way, sitting on their face and suffocating them.

I was so frightened. All the way through he was standing so close to me that he was touching me and he kept breathing on me really hard. And I kept talking to him because I was afraid that he might become aggressive if I didn't. And when I left the shop I ran as fast as I could to get home, because I was scared that he might attack me and possibly rape me.

I don't think all men are rapists, or that all men have the potential to be, or are evil. But I don't know many men who have run all the way home from a shop because they are scared of being attacked by someone in the queue.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


I have to do a seminar in about 5 weeks and this is my topic. Any suggestions for reading, thoughts or comments welcomed...

'Developing a gendered approach to the study of international political economy, in theoretical terms, is a very different proposition from inserting issues of gender into the study of international political economy; the latter is, ultimately, entirely sufficient'. Discuss.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

This is hard work!

OK, I'm getting into being a student. I spent four hours on Sunday and an hour last night reading about realism. This may be more time than I spent reading for seminars in the whole of my undergraduate degree... Which may be why it takes so long for me to do the reading now. I'm hoping to get better - current estimates are that I need to do 10 hours reading each week for my 'approaches to international political economy' module if I want to do the compulsory reading and wider reading.

So this week I'm beinig a realist. This means I'm going to be pessimistic about the hope for world peace, believe that conflict is endemic in the system and actually a good thing and that everything is about a struggle for power as this is the best way for nations to feel secure. Towards the end of the week I will move into neorealism, arguing that it is the pressure of the international system which makes all states behave the same way, with a small, derisive glance at hegemonic stability, suggesting the current global situation shows that it is not best for there to be one overwhelmingly dominant world power and that this does not make everyone else feel more secure.

I'll also go to my godson's 4th birthday.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

German? I don't think so...

I have just discovered that I don't believe in German. My apologies to all speakers of the language. Reading New Statesman, there was an article about the current election stuff, accompanied by a photo of a woman cycling past some billboards with the faces of Angela Merkel and Schroder on them. I tried to read what they said then realised they were written in German. Which seemed quite odd to me. Deep inside, I believe that everyone speaks English. I know, I know. They don't. And I'm not xenephobic. Just a bit weird.

University has started. But not to great success. On the university's side, a lot of induction things have been cancelled. Or the programme director hasn't turned up. Monday morning this week I went in for something at9.30 only to be told it wasn't happening. Great! Due to sleeping over at a friend's house on Saturday night (and sleeping badly) and then watching all three extended Lord of the Rings films (12 hours of Tolkien goodness) I could have done with more sleep on Monday morning.

On my side, however, I thought lectures were starting next week. Only to find out that actually they started this week and I missed my lectures. How stupid do I feel? And gutted too. I am nervous about starting studying again and I was really looking forward to lectures starting and going to the first ones to find out how this whole MA thing was going to work. To have missed it through my own stupidity (just why did I think that my school, alone out of the whole university, was starting a week later than everyone else? Partly because we had a two week induction programme. But that doesn't reallye xcuse my stupidity) is pretty annoying. So I've got quite a lot of reading to do to catch up. I'm sure, in terms of a two-year programme, missing one week won't matter that much. I hope not.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Freshers' Flu

As always, I have Freshers' Flu. This year I picked it up from working with postgrads the week before term began. As always, I'm making more of a fuss than is necessary about feeling ill.

I am now a student! I've been getting a little nervous as the start of term approaches. I borrowed a few books on the 'preliminary reading' list from the library - I considered changing to studying maths, which is on the second floor of the library rather than the 4th floor as my books are. Had my introduction to the Government and International Politics centre today, met someone doing my course (though full time) who I got on with and got my hair cut - with a student discount. Not bad. I've got more induction stuff this week and also, I think, next week. Looking forward to getting started on some actual studying.

That is, once my brain is working again.

Monday, September 05, 2005

We need to talk about Kevin

What do you do when your son kills 9 people in his school? Is it always the parents' fault? Can children be born evil?

We need to talk about Kevin (Lionel Shriver) is a book which is hard to describe without reverting to cliches: indescribable... harrowing... profound... It must be beyond a parent's worst nightmare: your life ruined by a school shooting - and your child the perpetrator.

I read too fast. I'm too keen to see how the story goes - What Happens Next - to be patient enough to enjoy the telling. 'Savouring' a book is an idea I have never been able to put into practice.

But this book is beautiful and so I tried. A collection of letters from a woman to her estranged husband, about their son. The descriptive power of the prose is immense. Lionel Shriver's ability to describe emotions, experiences and surrounding make this book rich.

For me, part of what satisfies is the questioning of the sanctity of motherhood. Eva questions whether they should have had a child. This is novel. It refutes the normal line from parents: I felt like you, once upon a time, but this was the best thing I could have ever done. There isn't room in the parental self-image (and maybe rightly) for saying that maybe your child isn't worth it. Maybe your life isn't the way you want it to be.

There's also something about love in here - loving someone as they are, not as you want them to be. Looking beyond who you would like someone to be, your ideal picture, and seeing the person who is there.

This is a painful and unpleasant story. But one which is beautifully written and worth reading.

Now go and read it...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

We're not in Kansas any more, Toto

Definitely not at Greenbelt anymore. I went out with some friends from work on Thursday night. As we were walking across town I wondered if I would see anyone. But no... it's not Greenbelt, where I know maybe 100 or 150 people out of the 20,000 who attend (and who are mostly wandering round the festival village) - in Manchester I know maybe 50 or 75 out of the 3,000,000 who live here. So unlikely to see anyone then.

But someone should definitely tell my subconscious that I'm back home. Every night so far I've woken up convinced that I'm at Greenbelt and should be stewarding. I see people in my room. Once I woke up with no idea who Matt was. It's very strange and I hope it stops soon.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Greenbelt again

I ned to work better at good titles for blogs. One of the reasons I never became a journalist was because I'm rubbish at headlines.

Greenbelt was great. I'm now expecting the post-Greenbelt depression, where I feel sad for a few days not to be at Greenbelt, miss all my friends and wander round looking a bit sad and not really knowing what to do with myself. I'd like to mention again what a good husband Matt is as he takes all this very well and seems to understand that just because I didn't want to leave and hardly spoke to him for a week, this doesn't mean that I'm not glad to be back with him.

What I love about Greenbelt is that I seem mainly to be friends with people who are quite likely to go to Greenbelt, whether as a steward or as a punter. So I spend most of the week wandering round bumping into people I know. This makes me feel quite popular.

I'm part of the support stewarding team. This means we work from 7pm (earlier if necessary) to 3am (usually later) wandering round an area of the site looking out for potential problems and helping out where necessary, also being friendly, chatting to Greenbelters and telling people where the nearest toilets are, where venues are and where to find lost porperty.

This year we've looked for a lot of lost children, tried to make sure people are only on site if they should be and asked people not to drink except in the organic beer tent or the Winged Ox pub. I also tried my hand at directing traffic up on the helicopter field (the far campsite, where helicopters land when the racecourse is a racecourse rather than a campsite) which was not entirely successful. I thought I'd found a dead body, but fortunately it was just a tired Greenbelter.

The best thing about support is the team atmosphere. I love my team. They're ace! Stewarding is great fun and a good way to see the festival. It's a way to make Greenbelt better and to help people to enjoy it more. My personal recommendation for anyone who wants to try it out is to go to venues stewarding as you get to help manage queues, but site stewards also seem to like what they do. Backstage means you get to wear earplugs and stop people crowd-surfing and nights stay up til 8 am keeping everything safe. They also finish with breakfast together. Support is interesting cos we get to do a bit of everything, but it's good to have got some experience of stewarding first.

My sister came and camped with my friends from Sanctus and seemed to have a good time. I saw them a few times - when we were stewarding near where they were camped we would go over and say hi. I saw the Reduced Shakespeare Company and also Milton Jones - both very funny. Also drank a lot of coffee and sat in the sun - I think I've come back quite brown.

Back to real life and work tomorrow... I'm starting to think about organising the stewarding for Soundcheck in February - this is SPEAK's annual gathering. It's 24-27 Feb 2006 in London - if you'd like to help steward let me know.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Greenbelt!!!! And... erm... having children.

I'm heading down to Greenbelt today - as I'm stewarding I'm going down early to hang out with my stewarding friends. It's been a roller-coaster ride of weather-emotions over the past few days: Saturday was rubbish - terrible Greenbelt weather. Sunday things seemed to be looking up. A perfect pre-Greenbelt sunny day. Monday it rained again. Yesterday was beautiful and today - when it really matters - it's pissing it down. I'm looking forward to going and sitting outside my tent in the sun (have sun cream) reading or chatting to friends. Not huddling in my tent in the rain.

I'm hoping to have a lot of fun, not lose my voice shouting at people to stand in a queue (different kind of stewarding this year) and maybe work out my relationship with God a little bit. Minor questions such as 'do I really believe in God?' That sort of thing.

This year I'm going to be camping with friends from Sanctus and my sister will also be coming. It should be really good - an opportunity to spend time with lots of people I like but don't see as much as I'd like. And they aren't the sort of people to get up too early - I'm working 7pm-3am each night!

I'm also taking We Need to Talk About Kevin with me. I've heard about this book and looked at it in Waterstones but it was quite expensive so I didn't buy it. But we have a book group at work so I put it into the suggestions envelope and it got picked out... so I had to buy it! It's about a woman whose son goes on a killing spree at his school and gets sent to prison. She writes to her estranged husband about Kevin and his upbringing. Apparently it's a book for everyone who has ever thought about having children. I do think about having children - with fear and dread and loathing... I don't hate children - I just don't particularly want them and particularly not now, when I'm about to set out on my dazzling academic career...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I think I might die

Matt got some germs off a patient and was a bit ill earlier in the week. Now I have his germs and I'm off work. Thank you, man from Australia. Call an ambulance when you have a bad cold. Give me that infection.

I have a runny nose and a headache and I feel rubbish. Not properly deathbed ill (so the title's a bit unnecessary) but ill so I feel bored and don't want to do anything and complain a lot. I need to get better. It's greenbelt next weekend, my favourite weekend of the year, and I'm stewarding. And then work will be busy with all the new students and I'll be busy also being a new student.

Thank you for your sympathy.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Things I hate

  1. Bananas. They used to be birds and one day they got stuck to the tree and stayed there.
  2. Hummus. It tastes vile and no-one can spell it.
  3. Custard. Yick. It gets a skin. Yick yick yick.
  4. Children. Generally, not specifically. I like children I know. Well, some of them...
  5. Olives. No, liking them isn't a sign of maturity.
  6. Spiders. Last night I dreamt there was a spider in my bedroom and I had to sleep with the light on. Thanks, I know they won't hurt me and they're probably more scared of me than I am of them. So they're screaming in their little spider voices as they run away, are they? When I was a small child I used to like spiders and I carried them round and played with them. And then one ran up my arm and into my hair and I've been firghtened of them ever since. It's not a rational thing. They run and I start screaming. I'm getting better. Now I can tolerate them as long as I can see them. And they're small. Otherwise I attack them with hairspray. Cruel but effective.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

24 (2)

So, you know the guy you thought was a background character? A supporting actor? Nice?

Turns out he's none of those things. He's not who you thought he was. And he's just killed someone.

And the FBI/CIA baddie? Not the one with the facial hair, the other one? Who you thought was a bad guy? Well, he might not be. Though obviously he could turn out to be bad again, later on.

And Jack? I think he's gone a bit mad...

I'm at work and the person I share an office with is on holiday. All the students are also on holiday so it's eerily quiet. It feels like half past five all day (for those of you who don't work in the public sector, here in the uni everyone goes home at five on the dot. Some of the academics don't even come in half the time. And they've all taken month-long holidays over the summer).

I am busy - I've got lots to do. But I get bored and lonely with no-one around to talk to. So I just keep checking my email and other people's blogs...

Monday, August 08, 2005


I am really excited about starting my MA, which is in International Political Economy. Until people ask me what it's about, when I get confused and realise I'm not entirely sure. "Economics, but with the political elements, and international", which is just rearranging the words in the title and interspersing them with some joining words. Not entirely helpful.

Occasionaly I have doubts about the whole enterprise. My first degree was politics with journalism. The title of my dissertation was "the debt crisis in Africa: a critique of neoliberalism" and criticised neoliberalism, the theory behind competetive capitalism, using structural adjustment programmes ( a neoliberal and widely-criticised response to third world debt) as an example of how and why neoliberalism is rubbish.

I really enjoyed this and after a few years working for SPEAK I decided to go back to uni and do a masters in economics. I want to change the way economics works, to find a solution that helps the poor and brings more equality, to find an alternative model to capitalism.

Unfortunately, Manchester University, which I wanted to go to, wouldn't let me do a masters in economics without an undergraduate degree in economics. So I applied for and was accepted to do a BA in economics and social studies. Which would have been really cool, but it would have taken 7 years altogether to get to being a doctor, which is my long-ish term aim.

Then one day I found the MA in International Political Economy (IPE). So I applied for that and got accepted (this was pretty stressful, trying to get references sorted and then waiting to hear...). So now I've ditched the undergrad degree. This saves me four years studying and about £3500. Not bad, eh?

However, I wonder whether I'm taking the soft option. I like the idea of doing more political stuff and I don't have to do quite so much maths which I'm not very good at any more. Over in the IPE part of social sciences they're all about challenging orthodoxy, which I'm up for. But will I be able to make as much of a difference there? Am I just choosing to be with people who think like me? Would I be better off getting a technical grounding? Am I just heading off to sit in an ivory tower and write papers which no-one will ever read and which will have negligible impact on the world?

No idea. But as I've withdrawn from my place on the undergrad degree, it's too late anyway...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


I'm going on holiday! Matt and I are going to Giggleswick, near Settle, on the Lancashire Yorkshire border for three nights. We're staying in a room with a four poster bed and a nice bath (we only have a shower) and we're going to go on a walk and eat gigantic breakfasts and watch the next 4 episodes of 24.

I'm really excited - with Matt's shifts we don't see each other as often as I'd like to so having all this time away together - and somewhere with lots of grass and trees - I can't wait!!!

Monday, August 01, 2005


We never watch TV so have given up paying our TV licence (legally, I might add) and have started renting dvds through the post from Amazon. We get 4 a month for £8 and can have two at a time.

So we’ve started watching season 1 of 24, which I have never seen before. And it’s pretty exciting. Jack Bauer works for the FBI or CIA (or some other American acronym) doing counter-terrorism work. His team are trying to stop a presidential candidate getting killed. There’s a dirty agent but we don’t know who it is. Seems like it could be Tony, who has a funny beard and looks annoyed a lot. So it will probably be anyone except Tony. And Jack, obviously. In fact, it will probably be Walsh, who got shot in episode 3. Al I know is that it will never be who you’re supposed to think it is.

Unless it is, in a double-bluff kind of way.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Plumbing fun

We are having a few plumbing problems, which have been going on for a while. Hopefully our landlord will come round and sort them out. When I have a shower, there is gurgling in the toilet – it sounds like singing – and the shower takes about 10 minutes to clear of water. The sink takes quite a while to empty too and there’s a similar gurgling. When I flush the toilet it fills with water and takes a while to empty (so tends not to actually flush everything away. Mmm, nice). Then there’s a bit of a bad small and a spout of water comes up out of the plughole in the shower, which gives a bit of a shock the first time it happens. Oh, and there’s a permanent puddle on the bathroom floor which we think is leaking from the bottom of the sink.

It’s sad when it’s a bit of a relief to go to the toilet at work because I know it will flush with no problem.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Politicising a generation?

I've been quite sceptical about Live8. It seemed to distract attention from the campaigning going on at Edinburgh. And it was made out that the numbers attending and all the excitement somehow showed how many people cared about world poverty and justice and all that. But not really - it just showed that people wanted to go to a free concert with huge-name-stars and be Part Of Something. People 'wanted to show they cared'. But how much did it really do to educate people? How much of a lasting impression will it make? How much will it actually change?

I thought all this until today, when I may have changed my mind a little. I saw a big advert for the DVD of the Live Aid concert. One of my earliest memories is buying the Live Aid single, aged probably 5. My mum explained what it was about and I asked whether I could send a bottle of milk and a chocolate cake to the people in Ethiopia and she explained that they needed special food beacuse they were so hungry they couldn't eat normal food.

For me, that is a significant memory. And now, aged 26, I'm starting an MA in International Political Economy because I want to find a way to make the world fairer. I campaign for global justice and I'm interested in these issues. I'm not putting it all down to one single, but in 2025, will there be a whole load of today's 5-year-olds who were influenced by Live8? I'm not saying there will, I'm just saying that it made me think a little.