Open Day

For a moment there, I nearly fell off my chair. It would have looked bad if the mother of a prospective student ended up closer to the floor than convention prescribes. (The more alert of you will now deduce that I normally float or levitate through life. I don’t, unless I’m on my broomstick.)

On four hours of sleep the witch went to Birmingham yesterday to show Daughter the splendours of the university. I walked through the university area last year, on my way to the Campaign for the Book conference, so I was practically an old hand at this.

Those nice physicists had cups of tea on offer to visitors, and I have to admit to having had three. Cups, that is. It was purely with a view to staying awake a little longer. The amount of chewing gum stuck to the undersides of tables was impressive. You could admire this in comfort, without first falling off chairs, because some surplus tables had been left upside-down. But you would think that with all that knowledge of physics they could work out that one small bin would never suffice for all the tea and coffee debris.

I spent a long time on the chair I never fell off, as I didn’t want to risk snoring my way through the talks. So I planted myself in the refreshments room with a novel, which I read until I experimented by closing my eyes somewhat. The DVD on a loop, which described the advantages of studying physics at Birmingham probably played ten times, at least, and I could recite, almost verbatim, what people said. But I won’t. One second year student thought his first year there was the best of his life, with all the great things that happened to him. That was until the second year, which was wonderfuller still. Or you could go and get a job on the Mars Express in Germany.

On the physics ‘market stalls’ we saw a pig that wasn’t there. It was a sweet little thing. All pink and shiny. But it wasn’t actually there. Daughter stroked empty air. Education is a wonderful invention.

The whole visit was very pleasant, with possible exception for smell of barbecued, dead animals, which they sold to people for lunch. Also stall selling fruit and veg on steroids, judging by their size.

And among things overheard was the former ‘professional drowner’ talking about her past job.

Excepting my own personal excellence (cough), I have to disagree with the member of staff who said that going to Scandinavia for a year abroad will be very easy because everything’s done in English over there. Some of it is. But not always terribly well.

I did fine with my reading, despite the lack of sleep, and now have only a few pages to go. Daughter finished her Stravaganza, and was most satisfied with the romantic ending of book three. They really are going to get married. At last.

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