I have about a week left of my summer holiday. According to my five year plan*, this is my last education-centric summer holiday; yet I have done nothing whatsoever to mark this event. Now, because I have, essentially, been hanging around my bedroom for months; I can’t wait to go back to uni. So much so, in fact, that I have twice called one of my lecturers – at her home – in as many days. Isn’t that wrong? Isn’t that stalking?! In any case, there is a new intake of first years on my course. I am going into fourth year, and my first task as a degree-wielding Citizen of the World is to help the new students run a completely amateur newspaper. Isn’t that fun!? Isn’t that wonderful!? Because there is a surprisingly large intake of first year students this year, the task of my fellow graduates is to weed out the weak and scare anyone not up to the challenge – of becoming a proper journalist within three years – off the course. We are to be hard, unflinching task-masters, whipping our slaves while the lecturer watches; filing her nails to a fine point. I feel like I am Darwin with a knife, proving his own theories by slaughtering an entire island of endangered birds.
*I don’t have a five year plan; I do not believe I am capable of planning beyond about five months ahead of myself at the best of times. Five years ago, my five year plan had me in a coffin circa-2006.
Speaking of journalism, it is not often that I come down on the side of the Labour party, but I actually applauded Siobhan McDonagh MP’s call for a Labour leadership challenge. She was interviewed tonight on Channel Four News and I thought she – for one thing – had a good argument (that Brown was not elected, and because of that, he has not had to lay out his policies; so people – including his own MPs – do not know exactly what those policies are) and – for a second – was able to hold her own in the face of a very tough interview. I felt that Samira Ahmed was needlessly argumentative in her interview, since Ms McDonagh was giving frank and concise answers to difficult questions. I do not agree with the standard, aggressive-interviewer journalism that is all over television. Even when “grilling” very biased types such as politicians, there is no need to bound into an interview, teeth exposed and clenched. I hate watching Paxman-style interviewers, who seem to be more interested in bravado than answers; in showing up an interviewee as weak and “below” the interviewer than actually hearing their side of the story. I understand that perhaps some people do tune-in to televised news in the hope of seeing an argument; but I think this is just more evidence that news broadcasts are being needlessly dumbed down. I read an interesting comment piece in this week’s Sunday Herald, where Joanna Blythman attributes the Guardian’s huge interview last week with Alistair Darling (where, to paraphrase, the Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed that the economy was doomed and that we are all fucked) to good interview techniques. None of this all-out, I’m-better-than-you bravado; Darling was relaxed by the journalist and felt at ease to be candid and truthful.
Actually, I also applauded Darling’s honesty during the Guardian interview. It is strange that people complain that politicians do nothing but lie, then when one does tell the truth, people complain about that instead. How very British of us! That is, however, two applauds for Labour in one week. They’re obviously going up in my estimation!
At present, I am reading a combination of books which are making an interesting collage-of-concepts in my head. The death, despair, deceit, disorientation and derangement of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot is mingling with Sheila Weller’s half-cocked decision to write a triple biography of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon in Girls Like Us. The latter is a very good biography of all three women, however it is laced with feminist thought and strung together with the could-or-could-not-be idea that these three women are somehow linked beyond having fucked James Taylor. The former is a masterpiece that has changed my opinion on organised religion. Strange to read them at the same time, I tell you! Add to that Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, Sylvia Plath’s The Colossus and snippets from the middle chapters of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and the odd page-long revelation from Lloyd Whitesell’s The Music of Joni Mitchell*, and you’ve got yourself a headache worthy of Prince Myshkin himself!
*I refuse to start actually reading the latter two books before I’ve finished the others; otherwise I will never finish any of them. I always get into this mess. I’m physically unable to read one book at a time. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
In any case, I am now ready for uni, what with my crazy conspiracy theories; angry left wing rants; an abundance of up-their-own-arse books; the ability to type; and anything else that seems requisite that has been mentioned in this blog, then subsequently forgotten during the outro. I also have a swish new Manbag that makes me look less tranny-more man; and a new haircut which makes me look less student-more downy; since I did it myself during what can only be termed an epiphany at five in the morning, using a pair of old scissors and two mirrors used in tandem. Long live DIY!