Friday, September 14, 2007

Regrets (Alternative Histories of my life)

Regrets, I have a few, but not really too few to mention. My mum always reckoned I'd regret not studying. Mostly that's not true but there are one or two places where a little extra studying might have changed things just a little.

When I was 17, I needed a C in Chemistry and E's in Physics and Biology to get into Nottingham University (I already had a C in Maths taken a year earlier) (Failing that, I needed just a D in Chemistry to get into Warwick University but I got that, so it's not relevant.) In the end, I got a D, E and E but my parents decided not to fund me so I left home and got a job at Fisons instead.

Thing is, at my visit cum interview to Nottingham, I met a rather nice young lady (I think her name was Sheila Curtis but I'd be hard pressed to swear to that) and she was interested. As it goes, there was only one bus per month to Nottingham and it happened to be on that day... but that meant, I had to get back to the bus station by 4:30 and so I had to leave early.

So... perhaps if I'd studied a little harder, got a C in Chemistry, I might have studied at Nottingham University... and more importantly, got together with the lovely Sheila, which would have done my confidence a world of good (and might also have meant I gave up my virginity 11 or 12 years earlier).

The second place I think I should have studied harder was in my first year at North East London Poly. In fact it wasn't so much studying as writing essays. We were supposed to write 8 essays in the first year, but come the end of term, I'd only written seven (I had enough marks from the first 6, that I could afford to get a big fat zero for the last two but they insisted on my writing the essays anyway. I had to do that in the summer holiday so that I was late registering for year two and by the time I registered, I'd missed the deadline for the second year exchange to Arhus, Albany or Berlin.

Around the same time, I regret not helping someone else study. Jude Soden was gorgeous with dark curls, violet eyes, a wicked sense of humour and exquisite curves. I'm also fairly sure she was into me as well but in those days, at the ripe old age of 22, somehow, I'd never learned to read the signals. (So, if you ever read this Jude, I apologise. I wasn't rejecting you, I was just too stupid to realise). Jude dropped out after the first year. She wasn't the only one, but to be honest, I didn't miss Richard Fairbrass (yes, the singer in Right Said Fred) at all.

And that's it really. I didn't study and failed my HNC in Chemistry twice... and I don't care. I didn't study and only managed a Desmond instead of a 2:1 or a first. Not only don't I care, but I was told afterward by at least one of the lecturers that I'd done better than they expected.

No, I didn't particularly want a PhD or a Masters. I wouldn't have enjoyed being a lecturer and anyway, since then I HAVE studied stuff... but for my own enjoyment, not for any exams. So no mum, bar the minor ones above, I don't regret not studying.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The phrasebook

I have quite a healthy collection of phrasebooks for most of the languages of Europe. From Turkey to Portugal and from Poland to Italy.

As a rule, the phrases seem to be pretty much the same. "Two beers please". "Where is the airport?" "Excuse me, can you speak English?"

This one is different though, and I'm hoping someone can advise me why it's different. It's Greek. It contains two phrases I have never seen in phrasebooks of any other language. The phrases are "Let's make love", and "Help, I've been raped".

What does this tell the prospective holidaymaker about her visit to Falariki? Just as the phrasebooks of the fifties included the likes of, "Please make sure my carriage is there at seven, Pedro", or "We will be dining on the terrace this evening", showed the plebs that the life they would expect in whatever country they were visiting was not for them unless they had won the pools (there was no lottery in those days), these new ones paint a strange picture of Greece or Cyprus.

I think I may decide to go to Honduras next year.

Monday, September 03, 2007

End of an Era

Farewell to Alternate History.

It seems I've been banned from apparently on the grounds of "advocating religious terrorism". I don't remember the post where I did that so I have no idea if it's true. Obviously, it's Ian's website so if he wants to ban me, that's up to him. Of course, knowing me, I'm rather surprised to do such a thing, so I can only assume somebody putPCP in my Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum.

Anyway, this means, there's a good chance I'll post future counterfactuals I think of either here or on myspace. I have an idea for one right now but I'll wait until I work it up some before posting.