Constructing Commonwealth Credibility

I’ve never quite understood why people needed drugs to make them feel happier, but I have to say that if there existed a drug that made you more organized and disciplined, I’d be shooting up every hour.

My mooting semi-finals are on Monday. On the same day, I have to go to the English-Speaking Union and discuss a debate I have to do for Commonwealth Day.

Given my history of real-time mooting i.e. I only come up with most of the arguments as the moot’s actually in progress, which is Really Not Fun, I do think I should put a bit more trouble into preparing for these, since they’re semi-finals, and I’m not into public humiliation. The problem is that the Commonwealth Day debate is sort of important, because it involves going to the Foreign Office and Westminster Abbey and meeting ministerial types, and they’re broadcasting it over the Internet. So I think I should try and bridge the rather large gap between my current ignorance and apathy in matters Commonwealthy, and the paragon of post-colonial, politically informed, politically correct, Commonwealth youth which I’ll have to be on the day.

Bit of a tall order for a rather small girl.

But I said I’d do it, so I guess I should then do my best to make it a successful event. Anything less just wouldn’t be cricket, as my past colonial masters would say.

But musings on a dying (some would say dead) Empire making vain attempts at clutching tattered shreds of dignity around it as it shivers in the cold winds of a unipolarized world in which it crouches, lapdog-like, at the heels of a speech-impaired elephant wearing a rodeo hat aside, this all means that I really should get started on things today.

Middle Temple IV / Snow! / Spring!

(Sunday 1.36 PM)

It takes a hellish week to appreciate a heavenly weekend.

I was at the Inner Temple intervarsity debating tournament over Friday and all of Saturday. As a team, we came 11th out of 33, which we’re not too satisfied with, given that we’d convincingly whooped three teams ranked above us on speaker points. It also wasn’t great to come out of debates where every other team said we’d clearly won and then be told by the judges that we’d come second or third. I came 9th out of 66 on the individual speaker rankings, which was at least some consolation. Anyway, after one and a half debating years of regular shit happenings, I generally accept bad judging decisions with a shrug and a middle finger.

We’d decided that we wouldn’t follow our occasional tradition of post-IV clubbing, and passed up the guest list at the Ministry Of Sound’s Subliminal Sessions for vodka, lemonade and Kettle Chips at Nick’s place.

We (Nick, Josh and me) came out of the tube at Kings Cross, and it was snowing! It was a strange combination of weather and location – something as pretty as snow, falling on the sleaze and cheerlessness of Kings Cross. You look up, and it’s breathtaking and beautiful as it falls, and then you look down and around you, and it’s slush mixed with corner piss puddles. Within minutes we were covered. I looked at Josh’s frosty eyebrows and noted the huge difference between real snow and the sort that dusts the branches of artificial Christmas trees. I crossed my eyes and tried to watch snow fall past my nose. I stuck my tongue out and collected a flake. Then stuck it out again at Nick, who was laughing at my fascination.

I love falling snow.

After half an hour at Nick’s place, we were joined by his rather drunk flatmates, John and JP, back from the pub. JP heaved a huge snowball into the middle of Nick’s room. Nick wasn’t pleased. JP cleared it up, totteringly.

Josh was interested in listening to Xen Cuts. Nick put in disc 1. I came back from the bathroom, recognized what was on, and said “You have to play track 10!” (DJ Vadim featuring Sarah Jones, Your Revolution). It was exactly what he’d been just about to play.

Later, we were reminiscing about being 14, and Nick put a Nirvana bootleg on. I was saying something about my Nirvana listening times these days being times when I’m not in the mood to have to actively think about appreciating the music, but just want something on with simple tunes, lots of guitar, and some hoarse-voiced guy screaming every now and then. Nirvana fans might see that as a travesty, but that’s what I listen to Nirvana for – mildly rawking accessibility.

So anyway, I was saying all this, and:
Nick: Don’t tell me Aneurysm’s your favourite Nirvana song.
Me: It is, actually. What, don’t you like it?
Nick: This is getting spooky.

At some point during the night all of us were jumping around going wild to Pearl Jam. At some point we were squashed together in the best spot in the room for maximum speaker effect, listening to Teardrop (Massive Attack) and The Box (Orbital) with eyes closed.

At some point we fell asleep.

I’ve only just got back. We dawdled over tea and Kruder & Dorfmeister after waking up around noon. I’d taken my contact lenses off during the night, and the walk home was a blurred but interesting experience. Colours ordinarily seem muted when I can’t see properly, but the sky seemed to be that sort of amazingly vibrant blue that you only get in faked postcard photos. I looked at the sun in an oil-rainbowed puddle for too long, and my eyes started watering. I don’t know what the meteorologists say, but I think I’ll remember that stark transition from last night’s snow in Kings Cross to this morning’s sun in Bloomsbury as the moment my spring began.

Best Laid Plans

I really did think I had it all planned out yesterday. I’d go do a debate for the UCL law faculty against KCL law faculty, go for the UCL Debating Society Monday night debate after that, and then get home in time for the Goodness Gracious Me special, a late dinner, and then tackling of the study deficit.

You know what they say about the best laid plans.

The annual UCL/KCL mudwrestle went well. During the course of my speech, I said the prime entry criteria for admission into Kings was fellatio ability, called one of the male speakers sexually incapable, and the other a walking vibrator advertisement. We won. :)

I then made the mistake of walking into the Debating Society debate “This House Believes That A Woman’s Intelligence Is Proportional To The Length Of Her Skirt” wearing the rather short one that I’d been wearing at the earlier debate, where we were all in suits. The usual wisecracks followed.

After the debate the planned TV dinner and studying suddenly sounded far less of an attractive proposition than an excursion to Flutes, which is a great wine bar on Goodge Street. The next thing I knew, it was a rather unearthly hour, the wine had flowed a bit too freely, and delving into the intricacies of personal injury litigation was distinctly unappealing, as well as pretty much impossible.

UCL President’s Cup 2001

it’s over! It’s Over! IT’S OVER! IT’S OVER!!!!!

The UCL inter-varsity debating tournament 2001 was on Friday and Saturday, convened and organized by Nick and me. And I’m relieved and overjoyed to report that it seems to have been a success. This time, we were working under far more difficult circumstances than we had been when organizing our first debating tournament in October last year. Dire financial crisis in our debating society meant we had the grand total of 95 pounds to run the tournament on, plus whatever we got from entry fees. We told the debating community about this, said we wouldn’t be able to offer the lavish prize money and free drinks that other tournaments offer, and asked if they’d still be willing to come. Support was significant enough for us to decide to go ahead with it anyway, and now I’m so glad we did.

After running The President’s Cup exactly to schedule last year (quite an achievement in the British university debating circuit), we were determined that this one would be no less well organized. We did, however, end up running late in this one, much to our general dissatisfaction, but many delays were due to forces beyond our control like teams turning up late, and college staff booked and instructed well in advance failing to do what had been arranged. All the same, so many people made a point of telling us they had really enjoyed the tournament, and these are debaters who’d definitely have bitched loud and long if they weren’t satisfied with it.

Another thing I’m proud of was the quality of debating. We had a well contested and interesting final. I’d come up with the motion This House Would Make Amends For Africa. The first proposition team made a courageous and well-argued case in support of reversing the current situation of withholding aid from African countries which allow the practice of female genital mutilation, and eventually won the tournament. We’d tried to achieve a wide variety of motions in the earlier rounds of the tournament, so we had motions ranging from This House Would Tackle The Mad Cow to This House Would Give Saddam A Stroke, as well as the UCL innovation of generally themed debates where anything goes as long as it sticks to the topic given (the environment, this time), and another innovation of our own, where we told the debaters we knew how much everyone liked bitching about motions, and so we’d give them the opportunity to submit their own motions for the third round, one of which would be chosen.

We wanted our tournament to be well-run, well-debated and well-enjoyed. It looks like we succeeded on all three counts. :)

I should, however, add one of my characteristic disclaimers here: despite all this, I still think it was far from perfect, and that there were areas where my organization could have been better. The fact that we had to work with a number of well-intentioned but generally useless morons who are unfortunately members of our committee made things difficult as well, and sometimes I probably let my frustration show a little. So, there’s still lots of room for improvement.

Following in our President’s Cup tradition, we went clubbing after the tournament, and revelled in being completely different people from how we’d had to be during the tournament. JP, Nick’s flatmate, had free passes to the Glasshouse, so that’s where we went. The stresses of the past few days had taken their toll on Nick and me, such that we didn’t really feel up to dancing much, but we were, nevertheless, amused at watching JP’s effervescent antics as we chilled on a couch. After a shivering post-club excursion to Farringdon for coffee at 6 am, we went back to their flat. It’s a pretty surreal experience when you’re lounging in a road-scrounged easy chair, with a huge Bruce Lee poster staring you in the face, Gomez on the speakers, Wall Street on the television, and the all-permeating smell of weed. I next woke up around 8 am in JP’s bed, with Nick scrunched up next to me, JP fast asleep in the easy chair, grey snow on the TV and silence on the speakers.

I notice the littlest, and strangest things when the radical break from routine means I’m not functioning on autopilot. The mingled odours of tobacco and weed on my clothes and hair, defiantly residual even as I walked through icily fresh morning air on my way home. Soggy fur on a dog after it had romped its way through dewy grass. The clack of my boots, too loud among the shuttered shops and empty cafe furniture of Woburn Walk in the morning. The incongruity of sitting in my hall having breakfast in a gold halter-necked top among pajamaed hallmates who would later change for mass, while I’d be changing for bed.

And now it’s 3 in the morning, and as I write this, a blank sheet of paper on the table masquerades as tutorial work for tomorrow.

The tournament’s over. The weekend’s over. Back to normal life.

Surprised By Lack Of Debating Burnout

I have to go man the UCL Debating Society stall in the Clubs and Societies Fair after my lecture today, and go do efficient things with Nick afterwards for the UCL tournament we’re in charge of organizing for next weekend.

It just occurred to me that I thought I’d be well and truly sick of debating after coming back from the Worlds, but I’ve been surprised to find myself reasonably happy to be forced back into it.

Monday was our weekly public debate, where I spoke in proposition of This House Would Legalize Prostitution. The debate probably epitomized all that is good and bad about our Monday night debates, the bad being the chronic dearth of good argument, and the good being the boisterous but still good-natured atmosphere. As is usually the case, I was the only girl speaking from the table, and decided, for the fun of it, to be filthier than all the male speakers. So I told the opposition they were pleasuring themselves under the table instead of listening to the debate, having sex with their mothers, and were generally sexually unappealing and inadequate, they then made reference to my “methods” of procuring financial support for my university education, and after the debate we all hugged and went to the Union bar arm in arm.

I’m not sure if I should be troubled by the fact a newcomer to Monday nights later described me to one of the regulars as “that Oriental girl who ripped all the guys to shreds and isn’t offended by anything”. It’s a question I wonder about from time to time – whether I should act in a more conventionally feminine way i.e. less swearing, less innuendo-packed comments, less I-won’t-take-any-shit-from-stupid-people aura, less confident, less assertive, less interesting…

Tuesday was our weekly competitive training, where the motion was This House Believes That The US Should Get Out, and the first proposition team defined the debate as being about NATO withdrawing from the Balkans. With Nick feeling less than healthy, I partnered Josh, a new exchange student from Georgetown, who hadn’t done British Parliamentary debating before. He did very well for a first time speaker, probably due to his other debating experience back in the US. I’m generally surprised I managed to enjoy a debate about a subject that I find less than thrilling after going through the burnout-inducing pressure of Worlds. Guess I really do love it.

World Universities Debating Championships, Glasgow 2001

I’m back from Worlds. Exhausted, totteringly ill, and considerably more impoverished, but back.

I’ll do this like a debate speech, and break it down into four main points: :P
– the debating
– the socializing
– New Year’s
– Glasgow

The debating:

The debating was relatively satisfying. In general, apart from the first debate, I wasn’t unduly disappointed by the quality of any of my other speeches in the next seven rounds, although I wouldn’t say I sat back down after any of them amazed by my genius either. For posterity’s sake, I’ll list the motions we debated:
1. This House Would Give Europe Its Own Army
2. This House Would Put A Speed Limit On Human Traffic
3. This House Would Make Directors Criminally Liable For The Wrongs Of Their Companies
4. This House Believes That The US Should Get Out Of The Middle East
5. This House Would Make Pollution A Tradeable Commodity
6. This House Would Remove Patents On Pharmaceutical Drugs For The Third World
7. This House Believes That The WTO Should Make An Exception For Developing Nations
8. This House Would Legalize Performance Enhancing Drugs In Sport

What I’m proudest of with regards to our performance was probably our first ever win from first proposition, beating Trinity College Durham Law A (good team) in round 4. I feel we’ve finally managed to overcome the general self-disgust and public humiliation that has happened every other time we’ve had to first prop something. This time it was a simple but workable case, and a solid win over teams who were by no means easy to beat.

What annoyed me the most was what we felt were bad decisions in rounds 5 and 6, where we were placed 3rd and 4th respectively and felt our true performances had been worth a 2nd and 3rd. Our frustration was soothed slightly by the fact that other teams in the same rounds gave us exactly the same assessment and made a point of saying they thought the decision had been unfair, but that didn’t make any difference to the fact that we’d lost 2 valuable points in the team rankings.

We don’t know our final ranking yet, but are pretty sure we finished with respectable points, although, as I’ve said, we felt we deserved a little better.

The socializing:

The most important realization I’ve come out of this with is probably how awful these tournaments might be if I didn’t have a debating partner I get along so amazingly well with. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that there are extremely few debating partnerships, at least in Britain, that are as solid as ours from a friendship point of view. I guess a significant testament to the great thing we have is that after spending pretty much every waking hour with each other for a whole week, we’ve come out of it as good friends as ever, and possibly closer. We’ve had sprawling marathon conversations, violent but enjoyable arguments about anything and everything, hysterical laughter at our own inadequacies as well as other people’s, and gone crazy both on and off dancefloors to music we like. In general, Nick and me rule. :)

Apart from Nick, lots of time was also spent with Vish, who was at his irrepressible but lovable best. Aaron and Vikram were as lovely as they always are. I didn’t spend as much time with the Singaporean contingent as I would have liked to, but did get to catch up with Jean, Jonathan and Sid to a certain degree.

New Year’s (with Nick and Vish):

We’d sent off in advance for free tickets for the Radio One Hogmanay in George Square for New Year’s Eve, featuring David Morales, so that’s where we headed that night. At the outset I’ll say that it was a night of highs and lows, but was ultimately one I won’t forget. We’d stupidly forgotten to book a cab to get us to George Square, and no public transport was running. It took us one and a half hours of struggling along icy streets in the rain to flag one, during which time Nick narrowly escaped road death when he sprinted across the road in pursuit of a cab and a fast oncoming car caught the back of his heel.

When we finally got there, I was underwhelmed. Lots of drunk Scots generally standing around and not dancing while David Morales was spinning. It was hard to get into the mood for celebration when the atmosphere seemed particularly apathetic. Closer to midnight, though, things livened up considerably, and by the time I found myself up on Vish’s shoulders, doing whatever dancing I could over a crowd going wild to the admittedly overplayed but still enjoyable Sandstorm (Darude), I realized I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

The hour after midnight was crazy. Despite nearly collapsing from the inevitable alcohol-fumed kisses every time some strange man came along and yelled “Appy Noo Yeer love!” (Glaswegian loses a little in translation, I think…), it was all rather exhilarating anyway. Somewhere during all that, I lost my scarf, which I’m still sad about. After a while we moved a little out of the crowd to an area where there was more space to dance, and went a bit mad. Great fun. :)

After the event ended, we found ourselves roaming the streets in the freezing cold searching for somewhere to go. Everywhere seemed either shut, unspeakably cheesy or for over-21s. We finally found a little gem in 24-7, which had comfy booths, castle style stone walls, and black and white Marlon Brando films playing on plasma screen TVs, and spent the next couple of hours there very happily.

We’d acknowledged our general exhaustion and booked a cab for 4.30 am, but waited shivering on the pavement for half an hour. It finally transpired that someone else had apparently pretended to be Nick Connolly and stolen our cab. Go figure. It was another hour of frustrating effort to get another, where Vish deserves mention for doing most of the work while Nick and I huddled together in abject misery. I fell into bed after shedding my soaking, muddy clothes, too tired even to shower.

So to sum up how I spent New Year’s Eve, I’ve never been colder, I’ve hardly ever been more rained on, and I’ve never been so worried about slipping and breaking a bone. But I had a great time.

Glasgow:

I should start with the snow. This was the first time I’d ever seen real snow in any significant quantity, and my general wide-eyedness and glee inspired much amusement in snow expert Nick. Unfortunately, my snow honeymoon came to an abrupt end when beautiful white snow increasingly turned to disgusting brown slush, all of which we had to trudge through every day. But I’ll still always remember Glasgow as the place of my first snow. :)

The trouble with going places on debating tournaments is that you never get enough time to actually see the place, but I have to say that what I saw of Glasgow left me with little inclination to really explore it further. It’s prettier than the industrial town I’d been expecting, but still seemed just like any other city with little to positively distinguish itself.

We did, however, manage to find some good restaurants and cafes where we sought refuge from cold and the exhaustion of the day. Little of what we ate was particularly Scottish in origin, though, since we were put off by the “when in doubt, deep fry” approach that the Scots seem to take to food.

Gibson Street, right next to the Glasgow University Union, yielded a number of gems. We spent most of the free day before the debating started in Offshore, a wonderful place filled with couches and cushions, with classic rock and jazz performances playing on the TVs. We ended up spending 7 (!) hours there, and probably more money than we should have. The next day we had dinner at Sal-e-Pepe, a great Italian on the same street, where the house wine was actually really nice, and the menu made me want to order everything on it. The day after we went to Stravaigin, an elegantish pub/bar, also good. New Year’s Eve dinner was at Shalimar, which had an excellent all-you-can-eat Indian buffet. All these places were on Gibson Street, one minute’s walk from the Union, which made them extra convenient.

Lunch on New Year’s Day was slightly problematic, firstly because it was New Year’s Day, and secondly because we were trying to look for lunch at 4 pm, having only just got out of bed just before that. We finally found Lemon Tree, a Chinese place, and went in thankfully. It was rather curious, serving Chinese tea in English teacups, with an extremely Anglicized menu and what Nick described as chip shop gravy in his special chow mein. The owner had problems with English, which made me wonder why on earth he chose Glasgow of all places to set up shop. When my questions about what was in the special chow mein yielded the answer “Oh…er…it’s very special…”, I decided we weren’t getting anywhere and started speaking to him in Mandarin, to his visible relief.

So I suppose I’d say the city was no big deal, but we ate and drank well. Drinking well was especially satisfying given the fact that most of the alcohol at tournament social events was either free or heavily subsidised.

So that ends this account of our Glaswegian odyssey. Was it all worth it? As a rational cost-benefit analyser, I’d probably have to say no, but as the quirky passionate human being that I tend to be, I’d have to say yes, simply because I had to go to Worlds once, and I’ll freeze even worse in Toronto next year if I go again.

Now that’s all over: Debating, make haste to the backburner. Law, present thyself. Please.

Mace / Father Swan / Nine Ladies Dancing

Another weekend, another debating competition, another one of my hall priests stripping off to give a ballet performance…

It’s really annoying having to write this on the Monday after, because after three hours of classes on a dismal day, it feels as if the past few days are already the stuff of sepia-toned nostalgia. The debating competition was the John Smith Memorial Mace, the pirouetting priest a performer at my hall Christmas party. As a result of the above two events, the past three days have been somewhat surreal.

The Mace is meant to be prestigious, and I assume that’s why lots of teams flock to it. We go to it because it’s in London, meaning we save on transport, and also because the entrance fee is amazingly cheap. Unfortunately, with those perks comes the downside that we find the debating part of the competition incredibly unfulfilling. The motions are dull and uninspired – This House Would Adopt an Open-Door Policy for Immigration into the EU, on a Friday night. This House Would Renationalise The Entire UK Rail Network System was another real thriller. It is, though, a cause for some sort of optimism that out of 6 rounds we were only badly judged once, which is better than what we’re (Nick and me) used to. We came in 3rd and 4th in the first two rounds, and deservedly so, because we were appalling. The 3rd round was the annoying one, especially when we came out of it and the only other team there who knew their stuff was convinced it was between them and us for the top two places. Then we talked to the judge, who was convinced that the clear winners were the team who everyone else thought came dead last, and the clear losers were us.

After that stunning three round success record, we got chucked in debates with the rest of the people who had done as badly, which meant we won the next three rounds very easily. So we’ll probably look as if we did quite well when the official rankings are out, but that won’t really be a fair indication of our performance, given that our wins were easy and two of our losses deserved.

The social side of it was somewhat more satisfying. Apart from the usual sights of Aaron, Vikram and Wu-Meng, who I only get to see at debating tournaments, there was some good bonding between our 4 UCL teams and reasonably generous free drinks on Friday night with the usual meaningless but entertaining social interaction that comes with all that. Our mood of profound depression at our dismal performance lifted somewhat on Saturday with the three wins, and after a while we just stopped caring about the debating, and scooted off to retoxbar in Covent Garden with other like-minded souls instead of watching the semi-finals. Another lift to my spirits was when I found out that Russ and the rest of the men’s novices crew had seemingly defied all odds to win a rowing competition. And, in line with our usual practice when the wine is flowing freely, Nick and I embarked on a mutual affirmation of our intrinsic worth as individual intellectual beings, as well as our solid and satisfying debating partnership. So all of that operated to give me a smile on my face as Nick, Vish and I were walking home from supper at Chinatown, despite the bad debating, which I suppose should be the focus of entering a debating competition.

So I woke up on Sunday still in a reasonably good mood, which, as I’ve said, is far from what usually happens when I don’t do well in a competition. And, as thoroughly cliched as it may sound to say this, when I went down and saw everything decorated – a little tree in the reception area, a nativity scene in the dining room, lots of other nice touches here and there – I did actually feel all happy and Christmassy.

For the party at night, we’d all signed up to do skits about days in The Twelve Days of Christmas. I still don’t know who put my name on the Nine Ladies Dancing list, but I’m not complaining, since it could well have been Geese A-Laying or French Hens. I increasingly realize that the great thing about the people in this hall is our willingness to make fools of ourselves in the name of fun. When the time came for Father J to do seven swans a-swimming, he got up and talked for a bit about the all-male ballet production of Swan Lake earlier this year in London. I didn’t quite realize the extent of the link he was making until he stripped off his dinner jacket and clerical collar to reveal this filmy white robe (which, I suspect, came from an altar vestment) and started his hysterically funny ballet performance. I thought his stint as a face-painted Chinese opera jealous husband for our Charity Night earlier this year was something to remember, until Sunday night’s performance left that one gasping in the dust.

Our nine ladies dancing skit was good too. I say this especially because it was my idea. :P The basic premise of it was that we were a dance troupe, booked for two parties at Newman House, and we’d got the dates mixed up. So we were halfway through a strip routine for what we thought was a 21st birthday party, and then one of us began to “serenade” the birthday boy. We then suddenly realized that we’d mixed it up with our Christmas party booking, where the organizing priest, in making the booking, had left specific instructions that we waltz to classical music, with no touching, no eye contact, no hip-swivelling, and most importantly, no fun. So, following these instructions, we then rendered that performance, and awkwardly waltzed out, to much applause and general hilarity.

This House Would Abort Abortion

I’m still feeling good from the weekend, just having gone through Monday. This is extraordinary, given that Mondays usually leave me stressed, headachey and exhausted by the mere thought of the rest of the week ahead. Today I managed to wake up for breakfast again (I realize how pathetic it sounds each time I tout this as an achievement), went to the computer room to do research on abortion for my debate later in the day, took surprisingly coherent notes in my criminal law lecture, and sat through a two hour long seminar on self-help remedies in contract without falling asleep even once. And all this with a general air of contentment, minus the sappy smile.

In the evening, I spoke in the debating society’s weekly Monday night debate, proposing the motion (with Nick and Terry) that This House Would Abort Abortion. For one of the first times ever, I actually did give a damn about the side I was arguing for. I usually don’t have extremely strong opinions either way because I don’t think I’m qualified or informed enough to form them, but the pro-life cause is something I do feel strongly about.

I lost the debate, as I had expected. Most of our Monday night audience votes according to their individual beliefs rather than on anything that is actually said in the debate, and most people these days probably think that abortion is a right. They’re entitled to that belief. But I do wish I hadn’t been destined to lose even before I stood up to speak, simply by the side I was on. All the same, we lost much more narrowly than I had expected, and there were people who voted for us against their own beliefs, because they felt we had given a better case. I do feel good about that – it meant I had succeeded in my lesser aim of challenging the assumption that the right to abortion is a natural manifestation of a modern liberal society.

This was probably one of the most satisfying Monday night debates I’ve spoken in so far, apart from my first one ever, last year, when I did This House Needs More Porn – it’s funny how they happen to be two debates that couldn’t be more different. I could still improve on my Monday night technique, though. Russ made mention of veins popping out on my neck and too much gesturing with my left hand, which I seriously hope doesn’t look as bad as I imagine it all looking. But despite my inner cringe at the thought, I’m glad he said it, gladder that he stayed to watch the debate even though that meant he probably ended up eating dinner past ten o’clock, and gladdest that he voted in proposition, because he wouldn’t have voted that way if the case we’d put forward hadn’t convinced him.

Eep. I should really get started on essay-writing. All the debating in the world won’t convince UCL to give me first class honours if I end up flunking all my classes.

Debating At Cambridge

It’s been a while since I last wrote something here. Whenever I tried in the past week, I kept realizing that what I wrote would be essentially the same each time – a frazzled lament at my rapidly approaching essay deadlines, reluctance to go to the Cambridge debating tournament this weekend, and generally bad time management, all of which reinforce each other to create a self-perpetuating cycle of self-aggrandizement.

Which, if committed to this electronic page day after day on end, would be rather boring after a while, as well as unrepresentative of what I actually do with my life. More importantly, it would mean that I’d be spending time whining instead of actually correcting the source of my problems.

But! Today I feel good. I do have to get a start on the two essays on criminal law that were due on Friday (ulp), as well as the one on European Community law that’s due this Thursday (zzz), but I’ve had 12 hours of sleep, some good coffee (Aroma, Tottenham Court Road), and right now, all that doesn’t seem too depressing. (Note to self: this will change, Michelle. You’ll read this and weep a few days from now…)

The predominant reason as to why I feel good is the Cambridge IV, which I got back from last night. We came in 15th out of 72 teams, which is pretty good considering it’s a high-quality tournament and we hadn’t prepared at all. I also came in 15th in the individual speakers rankings. I guess I’m just really glad things went right for us for once – a few weeks ago, at the College of Law IV we were languishing near the bottom of both team and speaker rankings, despite speaking no worse than we did at Cambridge. In fact, I think I spoke better there than at Cambridge, which really calls judging standards into question, given that judges at the College of Law seemed to hate my speeches and judges at Cambridge seemed to like them.

The social side of things was markedly better as well. Being good friends with a number of the Cambridge debaters organizing the tournament came in useful in various ways, and the fact that they were all a)nice and b)pretty damn competent added to it. Having not had a proper conversation with Aaron for far too long, it was nice to finally get the chance to spend some time with him. Side note: I must be one of the most comfortably accomodated crashers ever. I’ve never had to sleep on the floor at away tournaments, thanks to lovely people like Aaron (Oxford) and Vikram (Cambridge) who give up their beds. I wish I’d seen Dennis giving his “Most Camp Speech Ever” performance in the semi-finals, but his rendition of it later was amusement enough. I’m going to be thinking about that and laughing for weeks, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, considering that this laughter often comes while walking alone along the street, or during a tutorial.

So. I’m VERY glad I went to Cambridge. I’m not stressed about the undone work. Tonight, I’ll put on some Pavement (I’m in the mood for Terror Twilight), and get a start on everything.

I am a happy person.