Posted on July 6, 2006.
It's commonly known that time flies when you're having fun. Less well known is the apparent fact that time also flies when you're working yourself into the ground; the term just gone was, of course, exam term. I returned to college a week earlier than most to get in some revision in before term kicked off proper. The mathematics students didn't have any (compulsory) lectures this term but pretty much everyone else had four weeks of lectures where they were generally expected to squeeze in at least some revision in addition to getting told lots of new things by lecturers. I managed to get a little independent revision done during those four weeks, but not a great deal - I convinced myself that the past paper questions that I was doing for supervisions counted as revision so I didn't feel too guilty. In all honesty, they did - but I still felt like I should have been doing more at the time.
When lectures finished, we got two weeks and two days before our exams started. In a way, my choices benefited my exam timetable - I got this large gap; those taking Cells had under two weeks before their exams started. Physics, however, is timetabled for Saturday afternoons each year, which was slightly demoralizing to discover, and Monday contained the joys of both Maths and Chemistry. Overall, I think the exams went okay - Materials wasn't as bad as I thought it could have been; Physics was great - but it's being down-marked because everyone did too well. Maths 1 was universally considered to be god-awful, and Chemistry was a good paper, but I'm pretty sure that I didn't do myself justice on it. Maths 2 - my last exam - was better than Maths 1, but still not great.
Of course, after all the work this term - indeed, through the whole year - the eventual release was all the sweeter. May Week was more than welcome by the time that it arrived, and was seriously awesome. With Maths 2 going so much better than Maths 1 - and with exams being over - I felt like I was on a roll, so I went to the Virtua Tennis machine that I've basically paid for myself this term, intending to put another £1 in - but there was a free credit. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I took it - and ended up placing on the high-score board for the first time ever. Embarrassingly, it did manage to add to my day even after finishing exams. I then poied a bit with Martin and Sam before making a flying visit to the Compsci barbecue at Churchill. There was then a Physics Strawberry Tea, which was very nice - and where I spoke to a Nobel Prize winner for the first time - Antony Hewish. He was very interesting to speak to, actually, though Chris had much more in common with him having done nearly the same gap year as him. A couple of hours of football and then carefully avoiding drunk people furiously spinning poi at each other rounded off a most excellent day (assuming that only time after noon is considered).
I'm not really sure what happened on Thursday. There was probably ReBoot involved. Whatever happened, I probably enjoyed it and it was very relaxing, which was much required. Friday, however, was tragedy after tragedy. The first tragedy was the removal of the Virtua Tennis machine from the games room. I liked this machine even more than the Virtua Striker machine - which Will and I forged a strong relationship with - and as mentioned, had only got on the high score table a couple of days before in what was a glorious run. To my knowledge, there is no replacement yet, but the ideal situation would be a Soul Calibur machine or a Street Fighter machine. Something better replace it - I'm not a fan of the Crazy Taxi arcade machine (I've learnt my Crazy Taxi trade on the far easier Dreamcast version with a controller - not the harder Arcade version with a wheel and pedals) or Point Blank. I could learn to love Time Crisis II, I think, but light-gun games have never grabbed me as much as others have. The second tragedy of the day was the last Pav - only a tragedy of course, because it now means that I have to go without Pav for a whole four months. It was brilliant though; it started late, because it was the Master's Farewell Dinner, but once it started, it was all the cheesiest best tunes that we've come to love Pav for. This was much appreciated after the Pav black-out during the Quiet Period through the whole of term. A room party rounded off the night rather well.
I spent a lot of Saturday moving half of my stuff out of my room - my parents came down, realising that it took us two trips at the start of the year to bring everything down, that it would take us at least two to bring it all back. Essentially, everything work related disappeared, as did anything that wasn't shorts or T-shirt. This turned out to be a good move as the weather was exceptionally pleasant - not as glorious as the weather had been while I was revising for two weeks, annoyingly, but close enough. There was a brief punt during the day, then a frustrating shopping trip where nowhere had any food that I wanted. Suicide Sunday started much better with strawberries for breakfast (though no Pimms for me) and kept going; Felix, Lauren, Simona, Steve and myself all went punting in the morning and then my tutor (Barry Kingston) in conjunction with two other tutors took us on a riverboat cruise - the arguable highlight being when the Captain started smoking a large cigar, and then crashed into the bank. He was an excessively amiable chap, however, so no-one really cared - and it gave everyone a good laugh. In the evening, I went to the Rainbow Café and then caught up with everyone else to go to some Jazz at a random bar.
The highlight of Monday was the stalking that occurred. Myself, Chris, Phil hair, Ruth and Sarah all went for a walk in the early evening with the broad aim of going to Sainsbury's. We walked past the Trinity Ball queue looking at all the dressed up people, when Sarah caught sight of a man in a cape and a top hat (though no cane with a silver head). She suggested stalking him - and so we did. He went quite a long way, and doubled back at one point - though that was in a crowded place, so it wasn't too obvious that we were stalking him and we managed to avoid detection quite magnificently. He ended up walking across a couple of meadows, before he disappeared behind a cordoned off area in a meadow; we think he was heading to an outdoor party next to the river - there was certainly someone who he could have been present, but he had neither his cape or his top hat on (and we couldn't remember his face, even though he'd double-backed past us), so we weren't sure. There was then the first Linux install party that I've ever been to, which consisted of Gen and Tomski trying to install Linux on Donnie's computer (who wasn't even sure that he wanted it), while everyone else sat around, chatted, and drank. No-one even fell out of the window looking at the Trinity Fireworks.
Tuesday was the Churchill Garden Party - free (if you ignore all the money that I've put into pool and Virtua Tennis/Strike) and brilliant. Plenty of inflatables to keep the troops entertained - the strap-a-bungee-cord-to-yourself-and-run-away machine is one of the greatest inventions known to mankind. The Churchill female acapella group were excellent and were a nice surprise for me to see - I had missed their performance on Friday (through my own decision). The owner of the bouncy castle chastised us for trying to run up the side (which was much harder than I recalled it being at Chrissy's Bouncy Parties), which was a bit off, we though. It was hardly as if we were going to hurt ourselves throwing ourselves at the side of a large inflatable. As an added bonus, I also managed to not get dunked in either of the paddling pools present and so stayed dry. The evening called for an early night (well, early for May Week, so midnight-ish) because I was going to get very little sleep the next day.
For, of course, the next day was the Fire Troupe's performance at Kings' Affair. After Girton cancelled on us at the end of Lent Term, I was itching for an actual performance. We met at Ed's room at 2, got our brand spanking new hoodies and proceeded to Kings with lots of equipment, looking like a band of thugs dressed in black from head to toe. We set up everything, and were then told that we had to move because we were too close to where the audience would be. We were then informed that we would be behind a fence for the safety of the audience - frankly, if they're stupid enough to get too close to spinning flames, then it's their own fault. Still, it was only a half-height fence at the front, so their view wasn't too impeded. Our performances were, frankly, glorious. Though I might be biased, I would say that we were the best thing there. To be honest, if I had paid £50 or so for a ticket, I would have been quite disappointed. After another performance at 3AM, we started packing up, and we were done by 5. Carrying everything back to Ed's room was a bit of a chore, and by the time I had walked back to Churchill it had gone 6 in the morning. I managed to stagger into bed at 6:30, after a shower, and was up ready to face the day at 11. This, it has to be said, was a lie. I was in bed having another kip by 2 in the afternoon. The evening was originally anticipated to be spent with a pub quiz, but upon arrival it was discovered to be off. The visit was not an entire waste, however - they had a Virtua Tennis 2 machine! I didn't win at it, which was a shame - though this was perhaps because I failed to read the instructions. You'd have thought that I'd have learnt by now. But no. Still, the evening was spent discussing subjects of varying savouriness.
College were less than helpful in how they arranged the end of term - the last day that we could stay up without permission was the Friday, and so I complied with their obvious eagerness to get rid of me. My parents arrived at four - after most other people - Georgina, Dan, Kat, Chris, to name but a few - had departed so I had a pretty lonely few hours. My parents arrived soon enough and we didn't have too much packing left to do - things like the rug and so on I couldn't really have done earlier, as I didn't have the necessary bags. It was quite hot work carrying everything out to the car, but we managed it in the end. We rounded off the year at Cambridge by going up the Muller Centre tower - and it was perfect weather for doing so. I took a series of photos and I have constructed a panorama from them - which came out surprisingly well. It's big though (over 9 meg) so be prepared to wait a little while! Also note that the watermarks are due to me using an unregistered version of the appropriate program.
Results were under a week away, so I enjoyed my ignorance. Due out on the first Thursday that I was back at home, I spent quite a lot of the day pushing 'refresh' - Natural Sciences were released late on in the day. Still, I was greeted at around 5 by a 'Class I' in my results box, which needless to say made me rather happy. My breakdown which arrived a few days later merely added to this. Curiously, I have two slightly different breakdowns - one from the Tutorial Administrator, and one from my Director of Studies; the latter having slightly better marks. The accompanying letter says that these are scaled marks, which could be the difference - but the Physics mark stayed the same, and Dave was of the opinion that they were going to scale Physics down as it was too easy. Going with the slightly better results (of course), I got a first in each subject, with my worst being Materials and my best being Physics - which is exactly what I wanted.
Two weeks of the holiday have breezed past - but have been much fun. Boating (twice), bowling, gaming, beaching and pokerage have all been had and I fully intend to keep doing so. There are photos of many of the events described above, but my Flickr account has expired. I'm having difficulty convincing myself that I should renew it out of principle - I didn't pay for it originally, so I'm going to try and find a method that doesn't require me to pay directly - last time, of course, I won it. I'll see if I can do something similar this time! Lastly, everyone go read Xkcd. It may have just become my favourite webcomic. It is probably not a coincidence that the guy that writes it is a Physics graduate. So sue me.