Head to toe


Today’s the deadline for choosing the option module for the next year of my politics master’s. The college sent the notification a week ago – last orders at 6pm this evening – and judging by the flurry of emails pinging about this afternoon, I’m not the only one who has left it to the last minute. In fact, I was the early bird, sending a mail around just before lunch to find out if anyone had any thoughts or recommendations on the courses available.

The intellectual calibre of responses has been heartening. Using a complex series of matrices: ‘Is that one full of neocon tosspots?’ and ‘Is it all, like, policy and shit?’ we have been selecting the subjects dearest to our heart. Naturally there have been some personal circumstances that have influenced decisions: ‘I should find out about the Middle East because that’s kind of what my job is,’ and ‘Friday night? Screw that.’

I went for the Friday night option in the end. Partly because it’s a really interesting course, partly because there are really nice people doing it, and partly because the college bar is subsidised, and I’m always happy to drink cheap beer with people who make me laugh.

I’ve been practising reading stuff I don’t understand – it’s good to keep a fog of incomprehension on the go so that the autumn term won’t come as such a shock. Thus I’m wading through The Selfish Gene at the moment. Heck, that Richard Dawkins is the go-to guy for the super-extended-but-increasingly-bewildering metaphor, eh? I’ve got stuck on a bit about hawks and doves and bullies and retaliators – he’s talking about different ways of approaching a fight and which is the most successful strategy. But why is this anything to do with genes? Do they get together for regular punch-ups? Search me.

And if all living things are simply containers for genetic material, then is the disgusting verruca currently extruding from the side of my foot in fact a very distant cousin of mine? It’s got until Wednesday morning to make a case, otherwise we’re hobbling off to the doctors together, and only one of us is coming home. Then it’ll be a cousin-once-removed. Hahahaha.


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