Wizened Words For Those Receiving Their A-Level Results Today

Posted by Dan | Posted in Blog | Posted on 19-08-2010

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Our school only brought in the interesting subjects like Philosophy & Ethics, Psychology, Sociology, et al once you reached A-Level, so naturally I dropped the subjects I’d spent my whole life forced to learn in favour of these new and interesting ones.

At some point in Year 12 I decided I wanted to read Creative Writing at university.  As universities accept people onto Philosophy degrees even if they have no prior knowledge of the subject, I imagined the same rule would apply for the much simpler choice of an English degree.  Turns out I was wrong, and as I hadn’t taken English as an A-Level I couldn’t take the course I wanted come university, and the teachers advised me to spend my planned gap year attending night school Eng Lit lectures instead of backpacking around Thailand.

Well fuck that, I thought.

Against the advice of the teacher, in Year 13 I took both AS and A2 English Lit together, primarily because I fancied a girl in the AS class.

I didn’t finish any of the books in time for the exams.  I didn’t even try.  I put in one sleepless night of hard work the night before Big Exam Day and bluffed my way through every paper, throwing in long and important-sounding words wherever possible and doing my utmost to sound like I knew what I was writing about.  As different schools studied different texts, the exam booklets contained questions for multiple books — we just had to answer the section on whichever book we’d studied.  In our case it was Jane Austen’s Emma.  As I hadn’t read it, found the lectures dull and didn’t feel like bluffing about old-fashioned women I skimmed through the other sections and found Death of a Salesman — at least I had seen the play — and proceeded to blag about anti-Capitalism and McCarthyism for a few pages.

And where did this laziness get me?  Well, I got an A.

I carried this technique of not giving a shit, writing essays on books I hadn’t read, and only putting a load of work in at the last minute over to university, where I got a First. :)

I know, I know, I’m a cunt.  But I’ve never once had to prove that I actually got the grades I did [and would be screwed if I had to, as I've no idea what my mum did with the certificates], so the moral of the story is: stop caring, enjoy life, and if you didn’t get the results you had hoped for, lie on your CV and no one will ever know.

A Surprisingly Good Week

Posted by Dan | Posted in Blog | Posted on 06-08-2010

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I got back from Mahón at 2am on Monday, after a brilliant 8-hour delay in an airport with no WiFi and benches specially engineered to be impossible to sleep on.  Knowing that I had a full week of work ahead of me (plus a fortnight of catching up with all the stuff I’d missed) didn’t really bode well for an enjoyable week but, actually, it turned out to be a great one — if rather tiring.

After a good few hours of much-needed sleep, I headed into town to have a catch-up and a coffee with my boss at her flat.  Turns out her flat is the embodiment of all the awesome shades of her personality which she needs to keep hidden at work: it was the ideal bohemian’s flat, with everything from oversized beanbags for long bouts of professional lounging, to an entire shelf devoted to first editions {back from the days when books didn’t fall apart once you got half-way through them, as all the novels I brought on holiday had}.

I left to attend the opening night of a play some friends of mine had written: a satirical, comedy-cum-murder-mystery based around a Big Brother-esque show, which succeeded in beautifully ripping the piss out of reality TV.  The mix of new media and live performance worked really well and the show sold out both nights.  I now intend to harass them relentlessly until they put on a full-length tour of And The Killer Is… as you ruddy well have to see it if you’re a fan of dark, British satire.  Here’s a clip from one of the ‘commercials’:

The evening was topped off when I went with a few of the cast to a swanky members-only club and was introduced to the winner of last month’s Cardiff Comedy Festival’s Unsigned Stand-Up Award.  Taylor Glenn, whose performance alone was enough to justify the price of seeing the play, then proceeded to make my head explode by telling me that, in addition to being an American comedienne/writer/singer/actress, she is also a psychotherapist, Obama supporter, involved with the Dylan Thomas prize, and cousin of the Gyllenhaals!  That’s quite a CV.  She proceeded to blow most of her prize money from the Comedy Festival on bottles of Cava for the whole group, which was pretty sweet.

Hire this girl now, as by this time next year she’ll be world famous. –>

And that was just Monday!

The rest of the week I was working at the Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale, where my job primarily consisted of being paid to dress up as a giant duck and play Connect 4.  It was AWESOME!

Why was I dressed as a duck?  Well, I work for a youth charity and one of the things we run is a Youth Advocacy Helpline.  They are in partnership with some strange Welsh TV show called Holi Hana, about a duck who also runs a helpline.  As there were lots of kids at the Eisteddfod, they needed somebody to climb inside Holi Hana’s skin and lure in children.  For some reason only two of us volunteered, so we took it in turns to exchange a sweaty roast duck carcass and dance around in the rain.  At one point I got into a kickass fight with this guy:
Eisteddfod 2010

I’ve got to tell you, it was amazing being a celebrity duck.  Kids would do a double-take as they walked past, then their face would light up and they’d tug their parents’ sleeve and race over toward me.  So many kids appeared out of the blue and just ran up and hugged me — I felt so loved! :)

Sadly, when I became human again, the kids couldn’t have cared less and I felt very C-list.

Still, if you want to see me at the height of my career, watch the video:

Frankly I would’ve been happy if that was all my week contained, but the joy continued.  I met up with Ceri, Rhi, Alex and Paul — who I hadn’t seen in aaaaages — and we re-lived our youth by going to see Toy Story 3.  Despite the very deus ex machina scene near the end, it rocked.  There’s a scene in a nursery full of old toys, and so many of them were toys I used to have, including some that I got in my Happy Meals all those years ago.  I like that kind of attention to detail. :)  Oh, and I’m pleased to say that there’s a good length of post-film footage during the credits, so you have enough time to make it look like you weren’t crying before the lights come on.

Man, this is getting a long post.  Good thing I’ve punctuated it with all those awesome YouTube videos.

The next thing to happen in my eventful week was an article I wrote a little while ago called Confessions of a Proofreader somehow went viral, and received over 17,000 views in one day!  The tide has slowed a bit since, but at the time of writing the article is on nearly 24,000.  Not bad if I do say so myself. :)

That same day I found out that all charges against my dad have finally been dropped, which was a tremendous sigh of relief for the entire family, especially my parents.  For the last five years they have had an unbearable weight to carry, and it has really taken its toll on the whole family, and I don’t just mean financially.  I hope that now we can slowly start to repair the damage brought on from the last five years.

Saturday, after I retired the duck outfit and returned to full-time human, I saw more figures from my past when I met up with a friend who had been teaching in China for a year.  We had Yo! Sushi and cake, which make an interesting combination.
Eating birthday cake at Yo! Sushi

Okay, and now we reach the final day of Eventful Week, which contained the most epic thing ever… BIRTHDAY PRESENTS!  Hooray!!

I turned 24 three weeks ago, but have only just had the time to spend a quiet day with the family, open my presents and eat my mum’s famed quasi-Russian chocolate cake.

Presents included That Mitchell & Webb Look, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, BSG: The Plan and the GTAIV and Dragon Age expansions.  Woop. :)