Lark On My Go-Kart

I’m starting to see the upside of having a car and living a paltry 35 miles away from University.  I enjoy many simple trips to the local Marks & Spencer to buy….microwaveable puddings.  Hop in and go to Staines for the cinema! Anything beats the Summer Term sparsity of people on campus.  I thought it was bad in September, but this brings a whole new level of commuter-students.

I came back the Tuesday following Greek Easter, which was the week after ‘normal’ Easter, simply because us Orthodox types like to be different.  It never fails to amuse me how the dates grow a week apart for about four years until, after reaching nearly a month away from each other, the following year snaps the calendar back to having them on the same day. Rinse and repeat.  So I was unable to return to campus to continue revising until I’d eaten my own body weight in family cuisine and Greek delicacies (and also beaten my extended family at Mario Kart, too.).

What did my glorious alma mater have for me upon my return?  Well, a nice bit of sunshine and lots of frantically stressful meetings about The Orbital.  Good news about the weather, though, right? No, once term had officially started a week later, I was well on my way to having one of the worst weeks ever.

My fantastically little, yet expensive, bus-powered FW400 LaCie Rugged 500GB HDD failed.  Yep, failed. Inexplicably.  And, of course, seeing as it was filled to the brim with 19 years of accumulated music, torrented movies, TV shows and a little bit of precious data from The Orbital, I hadn’t backed it up. Of course.  Cue frantic Googling for ‘forensic data recovery’ and subsequent posting of my drive to Rapid Data Recovery.  £97-£170, they quoted me.  95% success rate, they told me. I thought I’d stave off my breakdown for a bit, in the vain hope/faith that everything would be alright.  After some frantic phonecalls every day for three days, well after my drive was Specially Delivered by Royal Mail, I couldn’t get through to this company.  What?  I’d spoken to a nice Welsh man only a few days previously! Well, on Tuesday I received a phone call in which my dear old account manager informed me that

“….your drive was a bit like a record player with a broken needle.  Every time we tried to recover the data, the needle effectively scored a new layer on the disk – resulting in 98% corrupted data.”

Why did he sound so jolly?

“Our affiliate, however, assures us that they can recover 100% of the data, and mail it to you on a new drive by Friday.  However, it’s a little more expensive.  £454, to be precise.  Now, if I could get your card details…”

In some sort of giddy stupor, drunk on the promise that my precious, precious data would be recovered, I gave this man my card details over the phone.  I have received no invoice to date, and my phone calls to the company have resulted in me learning their hold music off by heart and various staffers telling me that it’s in the post, that they’ll re-email me the invoices….If it’s not delivered by 6th May (seeing as it’s a Bank Holiday Weekend), and I don’t have sufficient communciation/a courier tracking number, I will be strapping explosives to a handgun and marching on their headquarters.  I’m now also over-budget by £150 for the entire month of May.  Already. Drinks are on you.

I thought my terrible week would end there, except my Slingbox also gave up the ghost, putting my procrastination at peril – no live TV, no downloaded content!  I had to live on iPlayer and 4OD.  Disaster.  That is of course, assuming I could actually get into my room – I lost my keycard on Monday and with nobody to let me into the flat and our buzzer-system not working for some of the other members of the block, I was stranded outside Tuke Block F looking quite folorn.  Luckily, someonehad located and handed in my precious CollegeCard and I retrieved it first thing Tuesday morning.  I only had my phone to then misplace later to fully complete Possession-Loss Bingo.

On the upside, my bad-news meetings regarding The Orbital are still in full swing, and I had my first official InsanityRadio Board Meeting as Head of Training for 2009-2010. If my Students’ Union were a lady….erm, I have no idea where I was going with that, but I’m going to leave it in – feel free to finish the sentence.

Oh, and there was the small matter of my EN1107 Inventing The Novel exam.  For three hours.  On Wednesday.  Given my inadequate preparation, I was living on borrowed time for that one, definitely repeating the 40% pass-mark mantra.  Considering I got nearly full marks in my A2 Gothic Synoptic paper, the most difficult question by far was the one I decided to answer on Frankenstein. Silly.  Lesson learnt?  Don’t assume Summer 2008 knowledge stays with you longer than it absolutely has to.  I did manage to work in the phrases ‘bastardisation’ and ‘not to trivialise murder, but…”. Little else, though.

What to do after that?  Drive home and have a roast dinner, of course.

Just when my week couldn’t get any worse, I left my house, full of chicken and potatoes to return to the Egham residence I call home.  I was making brilliant time!  I got to Guildford in eight minutes!  Passing some parked cars on the way to Woking, I noticed that the last in the line was almost multi-coloured…oh, hold on, they’re following me.  Blue lights?  Right.  Pull over. Where?  There’s traffic lights!  Fine, just pull over!


I might’ve been going a tad fast, but the dialogue between the good officers of Surrey Police and myself was completely ridiculous.  I’ve seen enough Street Wars programmes to know that you stay in the car until you’re told otherwise.  Apparently not, in Surrey.  Once in the freezing cold, I handed over my license and registration, responsibly responding that “no, this car is not ‘nicked.'”

Playing some sort of tag-team game, the officers kept swapping over and asking me the same questions until I asked whether I could get a jacket during their prolonged conversation with each other in their nice warm squad car.  Have I had a drink tonight, officer?  No, sir?  Oh, you’re going to breathalyse me?  Good.  Well, of course it’s negative.  Sigh.  After dismantling the breathalyser for the kind officers, I’ll just wait here in the cold for a bit longer, shall I?

Police officer number two comes out and the dénouement of my encounter with the police finally begins.

“Your insurance expired last year.  And you’ve told my colleague that you haven’t renewed it yet, which means that we’re going to have to impound your car.”

“Um…no (points to certificate of insurance) that’s 28th May 2008 to 27th May 2009.”

“Oh, right, but see here it says 27th May 2009 and it’s the 29th today.”

“Um…nope, it’s the 29th April today.”

“Right, let me just make some enquiries….”

What, that April comes before May?  I freeze my arse off opposite the Magnet kitchen place and get an expected mini-lecture on speeding.

Another lesson learned – Mario Kart may not have police, but real life does.  Although I’m sure that even Yoshi knows the correct date.