Friday, June 17, 2005

Chaos, terror, madness … May Week

Ah May Week, ten days of post-exam revelry, in June.

But what have I, a continuing PhD, done to deserve to join in the debauched bacchanalian revelry of undergrads and completed M.Phil students? Passed my first-year viva is what.

Alright, so my supervisor had told me my first-year paper was fine; so my second examiner busted me crashing the LLM farewell buffet lunch and eating Masters students’ sandwiches and told me it was “basically unproblematic, I only have a few nitpicking points.” Threatening to fail me for sandwich-fraud, however, was … well, justified under the circumstances.

So passing was not unexpected. Indeed, passing is a formality provided you turn in a paper that shows some sort of thought and effort.

My big challenges? I need to find a criminological literature on drug smuggling to show why that aspect of my study is relevant. And I need to speak to the government lawyers of some shipping nations outside the Australia, UK, US triangle of my present research. And I need to speak to flag-States – Liberia and Panama, anyone?

Panama could be fun to visit, Liberia I think I’d rather find people to phone. Or stalk at diplomatic conferences.

Speaking of conferences – am presently trying to nail down a conference paper. I shouldn’t have got all enthused about submitted for a conference that’s tangential to my field. My paper is, so far, a horror. A shambling, re-animated monstrous wrack of a beast, stitched together from unhappy specimens that could quiet happily have been left dead or dying. One of those awful, banal conference papers people complain about.

Loudly. And throw things.

Okay, so that may not happen, but as usual I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Wise was the man who said, “never attempt to eat anything larger than your head.” The law of the sea is, indeed, larger than my head.

So, there are my liabilities. Assets: as of lunch today, I’m giving up work for a bit. I’ve got a black tie dinner tonight, my sister arrives tomorrow and we’re going wine tasting and punting, Sunday is wall-to-wall garden parties, I’ve May balls on Monday and Friday, theatre in London Wednesday and leave for Barcelona on Sunday next week.

I’m looking forward to seeing my sister immensely. But it may take a long procedure to decontaminate her after three days in Oxford. (She arrives in England and the first place she goes is Oxford – the base treachery of it all.) I forsee punts and champagne being involved.

Posting may be more erratic than usual in the interim.

PS The Queen owns an iPod. I'll be sure to toast that tonight.

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