Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Little Needles Of Sodium Unstitch The Seams Of The Sky

It's come to my attention that I'm starting a year-long Intermediate Spanish course next week in Ealing, on the same night as I'd been planning to go and see Okkervil River play in Islington.

Tsk, what to do, eh? I shouldn't miss the first lesson, because then all the tall, beautiful people will have made friends with each other and I'll be the awkward, almost-weird-but-not-quite girl who sits on her own for the rest of the year (a situation with which I am not entirely unfamiliar*). And as my social skills upon meeting new people are usually limited to scowling, looking at the floor and hiding behind my hair, I'm going to need all the early-mover advantage I can get.

Plus, I signed up for the "intermediate" course in a fit of intellectual vanity (not my first, it has to be said). My Spanish isn't actually all that great. In fact I don't think the fact that I once asked for directions to Gerona airport, or got chatted up by a taxi driver in Puerto la Cruz brings me anywhere near the "rusty O-level" standard that Thames Valley University are looking for. So I shouldn't really be bunking off the first week. But tengo tos, as they say. We'll see.

But on the other hand, Okkervil River. I really like this band, especially as they have a song called The Velocity Of Saul At The Time Of His Conversion (download mp3), which is a marvellous title, and which also includes the line that's the title of this post. I've always loved this lyric, but it only occurred to me today that it's a poetic way of describing the way things go all fuzzy when you have tears in your eyes, which is lovely. (At least I think that's what it means. I could be wrong.)

In other news, The Difference Engine turns out to have a brilliant premise tempered with some truly atrocious dialogue, but I'm reserving judgment till I get a bit further than, er, page 5.

* But then I didn't actually *want* to sit with Tara Palmer-Thingy's sister, or any of her braying Sloaney chums. They would only have cramped my slightly-unbalanced-grungey-indie-kid "style"**. Yeah.

** This was a long time ago.


Urban Chick said...

rather bizarrely, i have the exact same dilemma: am hoping to do (beginner's) spanish evening classes starting tomorrow

and my total lack of organisation has meant that i've just had to blow out a dear friend with whom i was due to have a keenly-anticipated girly evening with tomorrow

mental note to self: read 'seven habits of highly effective people' before christmas...

Urban Chick said...

oooh oooh

second para: one too many 'with's


Wyndham said...

Yes, that's what I thought about The Difference Engine. I was going to say something curmudgeonly like that when it was first mentioned but I looked at the giant tapestry above my desk that says in gothic-script: "Do not rain on other people's parade" and decided not to. I knew it would come in useful at some point.

Betty said...

I used to find it best not to go to the first night of a course if possible - generally you are asked to introduce yourself to the person next to you with a few interesting details about your fabulous life. "A good way for people to get to know one another!" thinks the lecturer, cruelly ignoring the whole class cringeing. Oh, and the tall beautiful people usually drop out after the first week anyway, leaving you as about the third weirdest one in the class, which is slightly less frightening.

patroclus said...

Hello Betty and welcome (and many thanks for the link, by the way!). Yes, if my part-time MA course is anything to go by, *everyone* drops out after the first week, leaving you (or, in this case, me) as the only person left in the room with the fanatical Marxist tutor who thinks it's acceptable to deliver an entire two-hour seminar from a kneeling position in front of your desk.

(Actually this isn't quite true, because the nice Religion - as opposed to religious - correspondent from the Independent stuck it out too.)

And W, curmudgeonliness is positively welcomed around here, although I fear your opinion of TDE may incur the violent wrath of James.

surly girl said...

you realise i have to read it now, don't you.

i'm composing a letter to bloomsbury press regarding their proof-reading/editing department (or lack of). i'm reading a rather good book which is nonetheless annoying me due to the endless typos, and the fact that by page forty two the protagonist had thrown himself to the ground on six separate occasions.

am sticking with it, if only to feel smug at the end.

Wyndham said...

Oh dear. I'm a big fan of William Gibson in general, though, if that helps.

I recently dropped out of an MA course, but I did it for at least two weeks. I did go on a two-year hiatus between the first and second week which helped enormously.

Stef the engineer said...

re: Difference Engine

Erm, the dialogue is done cod-Victorian novel stylee (that's 'sty-lee') as in 'Kidnapped' for example. At least, I thought it was when I read it and gave Gibson/Sterling extra credit for this sly twist. Are you telling me I was spotting cleverness where there was none, and they were just a bit rubbish at doing people talking? A couple of geeks not able to do the 'interaction' thing. Surely not.

That's me all over; always willing to give credit where none's due.

xarnuf: Parsi discipline of seeing the very best in people.

patroclus said...

Hmm, it may be a pastiche, but it's so bad it's almost unreadable.

A bit like the dialogue in "From Hell" - a film that is redeemed only by the inspired combination of J. Depp, a bath and the smoking of opium. I may have mentioned this before.

james henry said...

I assumed the same about the dialogue - rather worryingly, I seem to have a far higher bad-dialogue-tolerence than most people.

That said, the dialogue in Land of the Dead is utterly rubbish. As is the rest of the film. More will follow.

patroclus said...

Oh well, at least Land of the Dead is all bad. It's always so disappointing to see a passable film that could have been brilliant if only the dialogue had been that bit better.

Like Pirates of the Caribbean, for example. You keep expecting to hear some wildly quotable comedy lines, but you're constantly let down. Frustrating.

Still, ...no, I've said quite enough on *that* subject.

Kalista said...


I took A level spanish at college last year and found myself surrounded by people 25 years older than me, all wearing cashmere jumpers and eager to learn. Subsequently I adopted a mindset of failing and didnt do any work. It worked.

Tengo tos, ah, honey and lemon tea patroclus me dear. No entiendo que los examines son muy importante. Kalista habla buen espanol : ) Buena suerte con collegio del noche!

hen said...

What do you mean there is no good dialogue in Pirates of the Caribbean?

"The lovely but dim Keira": So what you expect us to do... just sit here.. on the beach.. and drink rum?

"The lovelier and dimmer Jonny": Welcome to the Caribbean.

Come on it doesn't get much better than that.

patroclus said...

It doesn't get *any* better than that. Which was exactly my point. (Oo, get her!). It's such a shame.

Merkin said...

You could just get the Dora the Explorer books and learn Spanish whilst playing, just like Aginoth is doing!