Sunday, February 29, 2004

(Cloisters, St John’s college)

“Play” (an entry for )

Being in a play. At heart, I think I may be a performer. Probably a revelation to no-one but me (“So, you debate, act, blog and want to teach? A performer? Never!”)

But I really didn’t expect to wind up doing a second play this year. I thought my return to uni had to feature at least one play, but that was going to be it: the end of my board-treading. Who was I kidding?

I didn’t think I’d have time for it – but I am enjoying it immensely (despite the perils of morning rehearsals every Saturday). It’s a wonderful part of being a full time student again, having the chance to get in touch with half-neglected parts of yourself, like the 10-year dormant high-school student who was so terribly into drama.

Also doubling several roles in a farce is just marvellous, “The Golden Ass” is a really clever script – textually very clever, but just so entirely mad, especially by the time you reach the stories within stories within stories.

Having time to play. I like the fact that I feel, well, alive at the moment. I feel break-neck busy - which I suppose is the nature of short, intense, eight-week terms – but the work/lifestyle balance does not get much better than being a student again. Especially when, as a foreigner in Cambridge, you have so many excuses to play the tourist.

It’s great to have play-mates you like as well. My household just gets better and better: I like the dynamic we have, the conversations, the discussions. It’s really stimulating to be cooking dinner for friends while an Italian Sociologist and Irish International Relations student argue social and media theory with the odd interjection from a Canadian English literature PhD.

Geeky? Undoubtedly. But quite intoxicating.

Playing with ideas. It’s easily the best thing about being studying again is just being excited by ideas. At the end of the day, I’d study international law just because it interests me, but it doesn’t hurt that it’s so topical. Especially for conversations down the pub.

I had a gratifying moment with a pro-Iraq War medicine student on Friday. To strip our conversation right back, it boiled down to:

“But look,” he said, “the world’s better off without Hussein. So surely it was the right thing to do.”

Me: “That’s not my problem. My problem is that it’s not only a violation of the rule of law, it’s not even in America’s long-term interests. American supremacy has, what, fifty to seventy five years before China is the world super-power, right? So the question is what do you do in that time: do you play for short-term self-interest, or do you try and strengthen - and get everyone else to buy into - a stable rules-based system because it’s the only protection you’ll have when someone else is the sole global hegemon?”

“China? Yeah, of course. Why hasn’t anyone said that to me before? Damn,” waving his pint at other people at the table, “these international lawyers have it going on!”

Nice to feel appreciated.

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