I should be doing: dissertation.
I am unfortunately doing: decadence.
I must really get some: discipline.
Thursday coffee with Zakir (previously incarnated here as Marilyn Monroe with short hair and specs on a paper tablecloth, now hitch-hiking his way to Morocco) in Essence. Chance encounter with Richard on Charing Cross Road when heading home. Richard has a spare ticket to A Beautiful Mind. Briefly consider ditching Alec, who was meant to call but hasn’t, and isn’t answering his phone either. Finally decide I really should just go home and study. Alec has of course telepathically waited until I make this commitment to discipline before calling (from the pub). I abandon natural law for Ali G Indahouse and we hotfoot it to the Odeon. (Note to Alec’s colleague who apparently reads this: whatever he tells you, he went to it voluntarily and laughed particularly loudly at the puerile bits.)
On Friday I decide to skip the last lecture of my university life, thinking it would be a bit insincere now to fake diligence just because it’s the Last One. Lunch with Alec in Soho Square. A mob of pigeons swoops overhead and I mutter a lot about how and why I hate birds. He tells me about the exciting world of cheese (the stuff in fondues, not the Astoria on Saturday night). It’s sunny. We eat bread and rocket and watercress and relish and ham (and exciting cheeses) with fingers and improvise a relish spreader from a bit of bread. Alec is trying to point legendary whisky pub The Toucan out to me on a nearby street. “Look, over there, can you see the black [painted facade]?” and of course there happens to be a black guy sitting on the next bench directly in the line of Alec’s finger.
After lunch we have half pints of Guinness (all right, all right, mine with blackcurrent cordial) in The Toucan, which is playing a wonderful cover version of Portishead’s Glory Box. I later find out it’s John Martyn. We head back to the British Museum’s reading room to study. Sitting at a table where Karl Marx could quite possibly have drafted Das Kapital, I flop sleepily around for the next two hours while pretending to read about Bentham’s rejection of natural law. Embarrassing.
Some time on Saturday John sends this text message: “I celebrated the end of term by watching a committed Christian being burnt to death and wish you could have been there to see it too.” (He went to watch The Wicker Man). I later recall that this happy occurrence in John’s life must have been at about the same time as when I was teaching the choir All Glory Laud And Honour To Our Redeemer King in the chapel.
Saturday afternoon is spent in Balans on Old Compton Street where Han Ling and Teresa treat me to a belated birthday lunch and I gorge myself on strawberry pavlova. In the evening I attempt to reacquaint myself with Bentham and natural law once again when music starts coming through the wall from Tim’s room. I grab a roll of gold wrapping paper (it was nearby), lean out of my window and bong lightly on his. Tim’s head appears, a little apprehensively (in the dark a roll of gold wrapping paper looks not unlike a crowbar). I tell him I like what he’s playing and ask him to turn it up. He does. I abandon Bentham for something that goes a little better with Faithless: an old issue of Cosmo.
Dinner is markedly less flamboyant than earlier meals. It is leftover chickeny tomatoey pasta from Thursday. I delight in playing this fact up to Alec, who is of a refined culinary disposition (recall: the exciting world of cheeses) and visibly blanches. On TV there is How To Have A Number One. Before Alec realizes this is about pop music he is aghast that people have made a documentary about the other activity this title suggests. Then Pi, which is rather more absorbing than Requiem For A Dream despite the lack of Jared Leto or Kronos Quartet on the soundtrack. I only raise my eyebrows when old big-haired mentor explains Archimedes in the bath to mad genius protege in elaborate and unnecessary detail. This is so that even dumb viewers will understand, and is a device commonly employed in the X-Files, where Mulder explains scientific theories to Scully while X-Philes everywhere yell “Yo Mulder, I think she knows about electromagnetics!”
On Sunday I am reminded of how little exploration I have done of nearby London when we pile into a friend’s car and head for Giraffe on Marylebone Road, a happy orange place which offers non-annoying world music and inoffensive cuisine.
Later Mark pops into my room to discuss Tuesday’s debating jaunt to QMW. “All right, then,” he says, once we’ve discussed arrangements, “I’ll text you as soon as poss.” Getting into the spirit of things, I reply that this’ll be fab, dahling. “Phenom!” says Mark, breezing out. I am reminded of an encounter a week or so ago in the hallway, Mark having just found an ad for a lovely flat and being veeee excited about it. I was veeee everything for the rest of the day. It splits your face into a wide happy grin and makes you sound all cheery.
At night I have a Coke (it’s Sunday so Lenten sacrifices don’t apply) and watch West Wing which is overly jingoistic at points but still hits the spot, and talk to mum on the phone, and read some Rawls, and go to bed happy.
This evening I watch Vertigo with Ken, tomorrow I potter down to Mile End to debate at QMW, and some time in early May I have a nervous breakdown, withdraw from exams, and screw up my degree.