This evening is the first time since I started back at uni in September, that I have not been racing to finish to meet a deadline. Packed into these few short weeks have been a comparative seminar presentation on social welfare in Europe pre 1914, a survey design which first had to be piloted, an evaluation of how I will go about a 5000 research essay on race and the inclusive society, a 2500 word essay on Health and Illness, a 2500 word essay on the political impact of social welfare around the Franco-Prussian war and finally, my share of a group presentation to be delivered next week on whether ageing is all about decline and disadvantage. Right now I think it might be! And exactly none of our lectures and seminars is in the Sociology building; they are scattered to the four corners of campus and to get from one venue to another you have to be sharp about it thank you very much.
Summer is nearly over now for Sue, did she spend it student style? Half cut with her thong on show? Sort of...
I took my mum to Bournemouth for a few days; Spain is far too hot for her at this time of year. I booked our rooms via laterooms.com, and when we arrived I feared they had mistaken my booking for a stint in an old people's home. I was the youngest guest there! Reception was only manned until 7pm, thereafter any requirements had to be directed via the night porter. Breakfast stopped being served at 9am, and dinner was from 6 - 8.30pm sharp.
The speed with which the meals were delivered defied belief. I pictured a drink in the bar, a leisurely dinner, coffee in the lounge and then retiring for the night at the end of the evening.
Image: Ben Salter
Exam time is over for Squeamish Sue! And, although her sneaky plan to do her second year reading done in advance has been thwarted, she managed to attend a course on Trans* issues at Warwick. Next door's cat is so proud he's left her a present.
Several of my peers and contemporaries in recent weeks have reached that magic age that is the new 50, and my son played and sang for some of them at various venues around and about. It's a demonstration of how word gets around; he is pretty good at what he does and it has had a knock on effect, as more and more people have asked him to play.
This has encouraged him to try open mic sessions a bit further afield, spurred on by a friend who has an entrepreneurial eye and ear for what's out there. It's all very well his mummy saying he's good, but I doubt that carries much weight as I might be considered just a touch biased!
These people look unfamiliar Image: Mr Moment
Our resident mature student Squeamish Sue has been busy, though not with uni work. Busy causing family rifts, ingratiating herself into tourist groups and searching for a safe place where the sun don't shine. But she's still found time to come up with handy hints for optimum dipping stick use...
Easter was celebrated this year with a potential family rift, brought about by misunderstanding and a lack of communication; that seamless combo for the perfect night's sleep. This year my sister in law, with whom my mother in law always spends Easter, and my other sister in law, with whom she doesn't, were unavailable together in some remote corner of paradise on the other side of the world. Meanwhile those of us at the coal face have been otherwise engaged with uni work, didn't connect Easter and paradise in the same nightmare, and made independent arrangements imagining mother in law to be catered for.
Sue's space boots
Squeamish Sue's been having trouble with this century. She can't find breathable fabrics, her fellow students think she's from The Past and her boots are more suited to the moon than Berlin. Still, at least the drugs are free now.
I hadn’t realised quite how much in denial I was over this ‘landmark’ birthday of mine until I was recently getting ye olde monthly prescription for blood pressure tablets. I got out my card to pay, only to be told that my drugs are now free. Good grief, I was so shocked I had to sit down for a minute – to steady my blood pressure. I would willingly still be on the paying side of the fence given the choice!
Image: Mish Sukharev
After then Christmas break Sue's back, battling 50 Shades of Grey parodies that don't live up to their horticulture promise and recording machines. At least she's got the tranquillity of the university library to seek solace in. Or does she?
Happy New Year one and all. Somewhat late I realise (it will be Easter soon), but nonetheless sincere. I am up to my neck in assessments and class essays, and so have slipped rather with my Squeamish entries. Anyway, a brief recap … during the Christmas break, to get into the Christmas Spirit, my pal Fern and I decided to meet in town to visit the Christmas market.
Image: David Blackwell
The ever punctual Squeamish Sue is here to bring us tales of university life as a mature student. Make sure you're on time and have your papers, yeah? Or it could all end up down the plug hole.
I find it a little disconcerting that lecture attendance, whilst desirable is nonetheless optional and is not monitored, at least not in any discernible way. I guess if you don’t have a clue of the subject matter when you get to your seminar, it is a bit of a giveaway that you weren’t actually in the lecture. Yet seminars are compulsory and are absolutely monitored. A register is taken and your attendance details are forwarded to no less a body than the UK Border Agency. I feel I should carry my passport with me at all times just in case! 'Your absence has been noted, where were you?' 'oh yeah, sorry I was just having a nervous breakdown in the car park, but I’m here now.'
Squeamish Sue, our resident mature student, would like to continue her higher education, but her printer has other ideas. There's also the chameleon to consider now and a stranger's entire new outfit to buy. But what has she learnt from all this?
Does anyone know why, when you print something, casually, for leisure, for fun, for the hell of it, printers always work. But then when you print something because you need to read all 98 pages by the following morning, or hand in your first essay of any real importance, printers automatically know you are in a delicate state, and go wrong? I would love to know how that is! It’s not just mere coincidence, it’s a fact in absolute truth. You do nothing different from that which you have always done, habitually, since the invention of electricity even. And yet, suddenly, a network problem develops, the paper jams, and then for good measure, it runs out of ink. So you switch to the back up printer to save your ass and hey, guess what, that too is similarly afflicted, when not 10 minutes previously they were both working perfectly. If anyone knows what phenomenon is responsible, do please tell me.
Image: Noel Zia Lee
After a break soaking up the local ex-pat culture and cuisine in Spain, Sue's back to begin her degree at Warwick University. But have her ankles returned to their former size? ¿Dónde está Sue's tobillos?
I have recently come back from Spain where I spent a week with my sister, her partner and my mum. It was a little warm; 37 degrees most days and on one occasion the humidity rose to around 80% causing my swollen ankles to reach new levels of tumescence. So attractive.
This month Squeamish Sue has been making the most of her break from studies with all things aerial - from zip wires to flights and Spitfire displays. There's good news on the academic front as exams are passed and university looms...
When my boys were young, my protective instincts were clearly on overload compared to today's modern mothers!
I would internally panic whilst they went on swings and associated playground paraphernalia. Yesterday I was with a friend whose 3 year old daughter went on a zip wire of all things! OK, so her mother Fern had the energy to run alongside her making sure she didn’t fall off, but these things launch at Mach 3 and then ricochet off the stop at the other end with such a huge jolt as to break every bone in your body. Why then was the child laughing and craving more? It made no sense to me at all, and I had chewed off the inside of my cheek with anxiety whilst watching from the sidelines. I guess the tranquillity of the Butterfly Farm had been a bit too much for the young soul to tolerate and energy needed to be expended.