An Oxford Christmas and a Brighton NYE

Yeah, so I didn’t write more. I got incredibly lazy, and I also didn’t have access to a computer, and don’t tut-tut at me, I’ve already beaten myself up about it heaps. See, at some point in the year, I noticed the ‘statistics’ part of my blog, and if owning and writing a blog about my travel ‘experiences’, wasn’t self-absorbed enough, I now also check the statistics of my blog, so I can know EXACTLY how many people are actually reading it and whereabouts people are reading it and what sorts of browsers they have (That’s right, I’m watching you, too. Though I can’t tell you your name, I can confidently tell you you most likely came through Facebook, are from either Australia or the USA and use Internet Explorer, or maybe Firefox. Not really the most useful information, actually. I could have probably guessed that all without checking the statistics page, to be honest. Though, I seem to have a growing interest from Brazil. Go figure). ANYWAY, point is, I found the statistics page, and like any good economist worth his salt, I’m now obsessed with CONSTANT EXPONENTIAL GROWTH in the form of hits on the blog. I don’t know why. Its not like I’m selling advertising or anything on the side. Its just a little competition I started with myself and now I can’t keep out of my head.
So, yes, as far as the economist in my head goes, 8 posts in one month (December) is just lazy and not at all conducive to an ever increasing number of hits, and to make up for it, this month, I should just post pictures of Megan Fox nude, to make up the shortfall.
But, I won’t. Instead, I will tell you about the rest of my Xmas and NYE. There’s not much to tell, really. The problem with relaxing, is that I have no paranoid and/or anxiety induced fantasies to report to you. I have a feeling they were the most amusing things I used to write about.
But, I’ll try. Chris and I had a lovely Australian ex-pat Christmas in Oxford. We were at Magdalene College (but, don’t go pronouncing it ‘Magdalene’, now, that would just be sensible. The correct, Oxford pronunciation is ‘maudlin’. Yes, as in: ‘Self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental, often through drunkenness’), which apparently has a lot of Australian law students at it. I found this out, as well as a whole heap of other, useless Oxford ‘facts’ on the day. I was the only non-Oxford person there, and, also, the only SINGLE person there, and if that isn’t the most Bridget Jones-esque set up for a Christmas day, I don’t know what is. At least there was no Turkey curry or chardonnay. I did have a lovely day, though, drank a fair amount, smashed the popular culture celebrity game we played (tick for another Bridget Jones talent), but insisted, loudly and embarrassingly, that I knew various rules of naming Lords and Ladies, which I obviously didn’t and was put in my place my smarter, snootier, younger, more couple-y Oxford law types (tick to another Bridget Jones moment).
I hope I’m not making it sound like I didn’t have fun. Because I did, it was lovely, and I very much enjoyed being around the bright young antipodean things of Oxford. I just felt a little out of place sometimes, was all. It didn’t help that it was like a sauna in the college room (FYI to all of England – I suspect that your greenhouse gas emissions would be lessened if you didn’t insist that every building should, during winter, resemble a sauna or the Sahara desert. Seriously, its not that hot in summer, you must be used to a bit of cold weather, so why do you want it to be SO warm in winter? Put on a jumper), so I kept walking out onto the balcony to freeze my brain for various length of times. There’s just something so very symbolic about being the only person on a dark, cold balcony, with a warm, bright room full of attractive, chatty people behind you, which explains why the image has been overused to the point of stereotype in various movies over the years.
We ended the day, though, with a screening of ‘Mean Girls’, which I was totally on board with, and made me feel very much in my element.
Boxing Day, I did very little. I lay on the couch and read a magazine, which I think unnerved my brother a little (he kept checking to see if I wanted to ‘do something’), but I felt most of Oxford would be closed, and Boxing Day is for relaxing, not for sightseeing. I did get up around 3pm, feeling more than a little headache-y and unwell (again, overheating of the college is mostly to blame) and felt I should go outside and walk around a bit. I went to the great, big, flat area we had seen the ponies galloping over and walked around listening to Van Morrison, which put me in a good mood. Van Morrison puts anyone in a good mood. Chris and I headed out that evening to meet one of his composer friends, who is from Belfast, as well as said-composer’s wife and mother, and that was quite nice. We finally found common ground discussing the horrors of the Australian outback, which seems a pretty good default topic for most new people that you meet in the UK.
On the 27th, Chris and I rushed into London for a day of theatre, which was excellent. We went first to the Little Angel theatre in, believe or not, Angel, to see ‘A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings’, a puppet show based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story. I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the story, as we performed it at ACA, so I was a little disappointed with the production. It had been turned into a children’s play, adding a really annoying old lady character who essentially explained all the interesting, poetic metaphors and symbolism in the story for the benefit of the children, which kind of took away all of their interesting poetic-ness. The puppets were cool though, and Chris said he enjoyed it. We then headed to see ‘Jerusalem’ by Jez Butteworth, which was ASTOUNDINGLY good, mainly for the performance of the main actor, Mark Rylance, but the writing was also hysterical, very dark and just… so FULL. So full of SO MUCH. And what I mean by that is that its clear every single line is in the play for a purpose. Everything has meaning and significance. It reminds me of Stoppard at his best (say, ‘Arcadia’), where you can read/see the production time and again and never get bored, because every single time you find something new. Its long – 3 hours or so – but, I don’t think you could cut anything. I’m planning to see it again sometime this year. It was absolutely brilliant, one of the best things I’ve ever seen on stage. In fact, I would go so far to say, that if you are in London, an actor, or at all interested in theatre, I would make going to see ‘Jerusalem’ your number one priority.
Anyway, I headed back to Oxford late, while Chris stayed in London to visit some friends. I didn’t do much on the 28th, except traipse all over Oxford, searching every op shop for a NYE costume. More on that later. I did manage to get to the Ashmolean, a beautifully named museum in Oxford full of many old things that the British really shouldn’t have, but aren’t giving back, thank you very much. I have to say, I’m not such a fan of really old things from Ancient Greece or Rome. No matter how many times I go to museums and stand in front of Ancient Greek statues and say to myself, ‘this was made THOUSANDS of years ago, you know, like, THOUSANDS’, I can’t seem to muster up any enthusiasm. Maybe its because they’re too old for me to comprehend, or they’re just not to my aesthetic, or because I know very little ancient history, but I just don’t find them that interesting. I prefer the sections on Ancient China or Ancient Persia, because the artefacts from there are at least beautiful and colorful.
The next day, I went on a walking tour, which showed me pretty much the same places Chris had showed me on Christmas Eve, but was a little more detailed in terms of facts and information. Plus, it was taken by a very posh old lady called Muriel, so that was an added benefit. She even complained to me about the immigration policy of the previous Labor government, ‘letting everyone in’ and the fact that the high streets of British towns these days could ‘be anywhere’. It felt highly conservative and appropriately traditional and soaked in nostalgia for ‘the good ol’ days’, even if was more than a little offensive and racist. Think I also found a little bag of… umm…. greenery… in one of the colleges, but, being a good girl, I left it where it was. Chris and I went to another crazy museum I can’t remember the name of, but it was very cool, and stuffed full of very random stuff, including bark shields from…. Guinea, maybe? They had images of the Phantom painted on them. Weird.
On the 30th, I headed to Brighton to visit an old uni friend, Viv, who has been living there since February. Brighton is a really cool town. Really cool. People like Nick Cave and Noah Taylor live there. Cate Blanchett used to live there. Its cool. You may know about the cool pier they have there, or that Lydia Bennett wanted to go there. Well, they also have an awesome castle that looks like it was transported straight out of ‘Aladdin’:

Image from: http://maryamibrighton.blog.com/2011/01/27/mi%C3%B0vikudagur/brighton_pavillion/

Also very cool. 
Finally, its full of cool vintage and antique shops, which Viv and I spent most of our time looking through on the 31st. Viv had invited me to a NYE party of some of her friends in Brighton, which was ‘Titanic’ themed, hence my extreme difficulty finding a costume in Oxford. I had eventually managed to pull something together though, and with a few extra bits and bobs from the vintage stores of Brighton, I was exceedingly pleased with my outfit. I mean, it included sparkly gold gloves and peacock feathers. Excellent. Viv and I got some ciders, not intending to have too big a night, as we wished to go ice-skating outside the pavilion the next day. I feel I’m pretty good these days at monitoring my alcohol intake, so that I’m pleasantly tipsy over a long period of time, rather than drinking far too much, far too quickly, and ending up lying on the floor, singing songs to myself and looking at the pretty patterns my fingers make in the air. Its taken a few bad nights, but I feel I have a reasonably mature attitude towards alcohol nowadays.
Problem was, that at around 10:30, we were mostly though our ciders, and weren’t feeling more than a little happy, and the party wasn’t exactly rockin’. So, we decided to go out and get more alcohol. Of course, the problem with going out and buying MORE alcohol when you’ve already had a little bit of alcohol, is that you drastically OVER-estimate your needs. So, Viv and I thought, ‘Sure, let’s get a bottle of rum! I mean, we’re sharing it!’ So, back we went to the party, and proceeded to down a fair amount of rum and coke (ok, half the bottle), on the basis that we had been yawning, and we had to stay awake until some of the members of the party returned at 3am from London.
The party seemed to get much funnier and more entertaining after that. Though, we didn’t do much towards convincing the Brits we were with that all Australians aren’t huge pissheads, a horrible, clearly unfounded and unfair stereotype, which we had been trying to combat earlier in the evening. The next day, needless to say, we didn’t get to the ice-rink, but, it was also pouring rain, and it was an outdoors ice-rink, so, hey, we wouldn’t have been able to go anyway. We had a very… ummm… lazy day on the sofa bed, watching 30 Rock and various movies. At least 2012 can only improve from there.
The next morning, I headed back to London and caught up with another old uni friend and her husband. It was lovely sunny day, so we walked around for a bit through Hyde Park, and then had a delicious (ENORMOUS) lunch in Kensington, before heading to Covent Garden, which I have somehow missed on all my trips to London so far, thinking it was just a big ol’ Opera House and not a place you could go and see buskers and antiques and things.
And, then, it was finally time to go home! Kinsale was in right old form when I got back, with gale force winds and pelting rain, but it was nice to settle down in my own house and my own bed. There’s nothing more comforting than being warm and dry inside, when its wild and whipping outside, knowing you don’t have to go anywhere or do anything, except maybe put another log on the fire and eat another piece of chocolate.

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