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.