Archive for May, 2012

Theft! Murder! Burglary! Blackmail!

No, this is not what happened to me yesterday. It’s the subjects I’m revising for tomorrow’s Criminal Law exam. Sorry if you came to read this expecting some interesting stories filled with police, a battle between good and evil, a fight for life, some vigilante justice and hero of the She-ra variety.

Unfortunately, I am not She-ra. I am just Lau-ra. And I am spending today in my front room, which is kind of like a dungeon now. Curtains always closed (so I don’t see the outside world and feel tempted to go for a walk or anything). No music allowed because it distracts me. Empty water bottles, mugs, containers that once held food and little scraps of paper are scattered around everywhere. I have some relatively serious hand cramp issues. For your information only, I also stopped brushing my hair a few days ago and will change out of my pyjamas only when I leave the house to go to exams. When I walk down to the deli to get food, I often just throw a jumper on over my jarmies and hope no-one will notice. (They do.) One positive development has been that I have stopped living off cake and muffins. A move toward the salad/quiche/proper meals section of the deli has improved matters. I no longer enter and pick up a jar of peanut butter and scurry off home with it hoping no-one sees me and judges me.

I’ve eaten maybe a hundred oatcakes this week. I get funny addictions when I’m in a situation of stress. Like last year, when I got really ill and had the emergency operation (C is for), I got really addicted to Top Gear. There are a billion episodes being repeated constantly and I was just all over it! I’m not into cars at all, I don’t drive and now that I’m well again, I’ve got no idea what was going on because I’ve never ever watched it again, since getting better. Top Gear?! Jeremy Clarkson?! And that other one who had the crash and almost died, what’s his name? Richard something?

So anyway, my exam addiction is anything of the oatcake/cracker variety. It’s puzzling.

I am also addicted to making flashcards. I think flashcards make the world a better place actually. We should all try making some.

By the way, there are no stories from yesterday’s Equity and Trusts exam really. There was an essay question which I had suspected might come up but hadn’t had time to do as much preparation for it as I would have liked. But no major disasters. I don’t think there were anyway!

Freedom Literature

The next in our guest blog series on freedom. Enjoy!

After Freedom RulesFreedom Music & Freedom Art we now come to Part 4 which I’m calling Freedom Literature.

Once again this is a vast subject and I can only take a brief look at it. Hopefully it may prompt a few thoughts in your mind. I’m going to take just a couple of examples and, as in previous pieces, ask some questions. Let me start with: how is freedom portrayed in literature? And what sort of freedom? There are plenty of biographies about people who have fought for causes to free others or for their own freedom. There are those written about bringing new freedoms to situations or to countries where they don’t have them. I’m going to take just a couple of examples from novels to illustrate how a couple of writers have treated the subject. You may have others you feel illustrate the point as well.

Let’s begin with Indian-born George Orwell (1903-50, real name Eric Arthur Blair) and his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948). In the land of Oceania The Party rules and Winston Smith imagines how he could rebel against Big Brother. Once again the loss of basic freedoms is apparent from very early on as we see how the society works. The rebel, the main protagonist, in this book and in Bradbury’s below, is a heroic figure battling the discriminatory dictatorship ruling his world. As soon as we read of his situation we want to side with him and see him victorious. We want to see the lost freedoms he is fighting for restored.

Next, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953) written just 8 years after the end of WW2; a film followed in 1966 and it’s well worth catching if you can. Like Orwell’s book Bradbury’s has been described as a dystopian novel and, at times, has also been banned or considered “intellectually dangerous to the public” (Wikipedia). It looks at American society in the future where books have been banned; the freedom to read taken away and, in this case, replaced by the government’s TV broadcasts. However not only are the books banned but they are burned by the authorities. The people employed to do the burning are called “firemen”. (Throughout history the burning of books has been undertaken by various regimes or groups within a society as a means of control.) The aim is simply to stop the spread of ideas contrary to what those in power want. In Bradbury’s novel the burning campaign is quite extensive. Even so, the firemen are always looking for more books to destroy and for people who may not be obeying the rules. Given the risk of being discovered some individuals, who oppose the government policy, come up with a plan: they will preserve the content of the books by memorising them. They have to move out of the city to somewhere in the countryside to avoid detection. One person, in the group, memorises one book, another person another book and so on. Although the book is gone, the knowledge of that book will not be lost to future generations.

The freedom to write whatever you want is probably epitomised by the content & style of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1939). Most readers of more than just a few pages, without a commentary or notes on it, will struggle to remember what they’ve read and what might it mean.

Nonsense verse has a number of famous examples. For just a couple, think of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, (begins ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, Did gyre and gimble in the wabe) and Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat,(begins, The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea green boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five pound note). The Mayor of Scuttleton by Mary Mapes Dodge and Oh Freddled Gruntbuggly by Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz (Douglas Adams) add to the list of meaningless poems. So freedom may produce nonsense; interestingly forms like this do, however, use a regular form of poetry to do it – hmm..).

The minute we move into the controversial areas of politics, religion & sex in literature we come to that, now familiar, territory of whether I should consider if I am causing someone, who reads my writing, to be offended. Should I care? Or should they just “Get over it”? Does the society I live in have the right to legislate about what I can write? Do we need censorship & specific rules to govern the publishing process? If we don’t have them what happens?

Among the many books which speak of freedom, you may be surprised to know that The Bible has these words, (in the book of Galatians): “..do not use your freedom as an opportunity to do wrong but through love serve one another.” Here the emphasis is very much on the responsibility that comes with having freedom. This has to be a vital element in the smooth functioning of any society. If individuals don’t take responsibility for the consequences of their actions it will be a very selfish society that is created – a sort of “I want whatever I want – no matter what you think.” Not good.

I wonder what you or I would do if we had to take charge of the publishing industry. What would we allow into print? And what not? It’s tough isn’t it. If we allow anything, we could easily be accused of letting corrupting influences take hold; if we restrict, we may be accused of being too negative or censorial in our attitude. Should publishers be accountable to the society they release material into? Are there books you would not like your children to read? Why?

There are so many questions because it’s such a difficult area. Perhaps you’d like to make a comment on a blog. If the blogger doesn’t like it, it won’t show or will be taken down if already posted. Is even that restricting your freedom? The further you look into it the harder it gets.

Should revealing details of the operations of the military and security services, in print, be banned? Just this last week, it was reported in the UK press, that the Ministry of Defence tried to block a book written about British forces in Afghanistan. The author said, of those responsible for the situation: “To paraphrase George Orwell, if liberty means anything at all, it means the freedom to tell people things they don’t want to hear….” Is the author right?

As with the other areas, Freedom Literature seems to raise more questions than it answers. Surely somewhere along the line there must be some form of literature control otherwise anyone could publish whatever they want about whatever subject or person they choose? And then we run into the scenario in the poem at the end of my previous Freedom Art blog that morality ceases to exist in this area. Can that be right?

Interestingly, this day (30th May) in history has not been kind to writers:

1. In 1593, English dramatist, Christopher Marlowe died.
2. In 1744, English poet, Alexander Pope died.
3. In 1788, French writer, François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire died.
4. In 1960, Russian poet & novelist, Boris Pasternak died.

Finally, in 1431, although not a writer as such, Joan of Arc died. (She wrote a number of letters to various groups & people.) She is most famously remembered for the bringing of freedom to the city of Orleans which had been under siege by the English, 1428-9. (This eventually led to the restoration of the monarchy under King Charles VII.)

Another revision day

I was trying to think of non-exam things to write about so my blogs don’t get repetitive and boring. But unfortunately, I can’t. Implied Trusts of the Home is filling my entire brain space. I don’t even have any good stories from the land law exam yesterday. I just went in, wrote, then left. I didn’t feel any strong surges of emotion in any direction really, once I’d finished it.

I guess there was one minor thing which went a bit wrong, because it looked messy. I got mid way into discussing the requirements for easements and then got caught up in the moment and moved straight on to how the easements were acquired, without finishing my requirement checklist. So I finished the checklist and put an arrow back up to where it needed to go in and some little squiggles so the marker knew where to look for the next bit. So then I had to do another squiggle to match up the bit above with the bit about acquisition underneath. And another one because it wasn’t clear. And soon it was squiggle mania and starting to get quite humorous. Because they had to be different squiggles so that it was clear what bit to look at next. I did a star, a blob and a triangle. It looked like a child had grabbed my paper and drawn all over it.

O well. All the information was in there. Just not necessarily in a very clear way.

Ok. Equity and Trusts exam tomorrow. I’m realising that I spent quite a long time studying for my land exam and a bit worried that I only really have today to do this one.

Also, my ‘snack tab’ at the deli is getting huge. I should start eating proper meals again….

What is going through my mind right now

Land Law exam starts in just over three hours.

Why have I never heard of Dyce v Lady James Hay if it’s such an important case?

Will I remember Barclays v O’Brien in relation to undue influence in mortgages?

My granola tastes funny. I think the milk might be a little bit off.

Ed Sheeran is good study music.

Why is the computer going so slowly?

Just get through the next few days.

There’s just no way I can remember all this stuff. It’s impossible.

My tooth hurts.

Had a weird dream about filming a music video and there was a really powerful wind machine which just blew upwards and I had to float around in mid-air doing Cheryl-Cole-esque poses.

Things I can’t wait to do after my exams

(Just a short one today as my brain is crowded out with statutes and case names…)

– Wake up just one hour before work, instead of two.

– Read novels. Or in fact anything which is not a textbook.

– Have spare time and just watch TV or sit in the garden.

– Be able to hold conversations that are absent of any mention of revision.

– Go for long walks.

– Say yes to social engagements.

– Eat properly and have separate meals instead of one long snack-fest.

– Sit somewhere apart from the front room.

– Not have scraps of notes or random textbooks on every surface.

– Take time to make myself look presentable.

– Wear clothes instead of pyjamas.

PS. Why do we say we ‘can’t wait’? That’s silly, isn’t it? Of course we can. We have to. That’s just how time works. You can’t make time move any faster than it does. Therefore, regardless of whether we want to wait or not, we have to. It’s not a question of ‘can’t’. You just have to.

Diary of a desperate student

Now, I’m quite a strong willed person. I can put my mind to most things and can be strict with myself when necessary. The fact that I get up at 4.30am when I don’t need to attests to this fact. The following is a diary of what a law degree can do to a person in just one day.

07:40 – Woke up. Felt ok. Did twenty minutes of yoga and got ready for my day.

08:05 – Went to the deli in my pyjamas to collect some ripe bananas to make banana bread with. Decide to do it tomorrow. Today I will be focussed and will become the master of Land Law!

08:20 – Had some breakfast. Arranged my notes into a neat pile. Read over the notes I made yesterday.

09:00 – Did the dishes.

09:30 – Put the dishes away.

10:00 – Read over my notes again.

10:45 – Sat down with a question from last year’s exam paper about mortgages. Set myself an hour and got writing. Started out well. Felt good.

11:15 – Got disheartened when I didn’t really know how to move forward with the question. Got up to make a cup of tea. Checked Facebook. Ate a few Ryvita whilst in the kitchen.

11.30 – More Ryvita. More despair.

11.50 – Straightened my hair.

12:00 – More Ryvita.

12:20 – Finally finished all I could on the question on mortgages. The last bit had confused me so I didn’t attempt it. I thought I’d listen to the online lecture to see how to do it. Listened to the whole thing, only needing the end. Four minutes from the end, while finally addressing the bit I needed help on, it stopped, for no discernible reason. I became depressed and went to make tea. I found some hazelnuts and almonds whilst there and ate them all.

12:40 – Started a practise question on freehold covenants and felt overwhelmed just ten minutes in. Found the online lecture instead and figured I’d take extensive notes and try again later. I find the lecture and immediately tune out and start looking for things to buy on Amazon. Ate some dried figs and pecans from the kitchen.

13:00 – WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME! I HAVE EXAMS IN THREE DAYS! CONCENTRATE, LAURA!

13:01 – My concentration is broken by a large fly. I chase it around for ten minutes and eventually kill it with a study book. Also ate a yoghurt.

13:20 – I debate whether to get dressed.

13:21 – I decide against it. I eat a muffin instead.

13:30 – Finished the Ryvita. Found some walnuts and finished them too.

14:10 – Took up coffee drinking, which has never happened in my entire life.

14:25 – Made eggs and bacon and more coffee.

14:50 – Drew fake tattoos on my hands and legs for fun. Mostly pictures of catterponies galloping through forests. Ate some sunflower seeds and a muffin.

15:03 – Laughed because the lecturer said ‘argubably’ by mistake.

15:10 – Tuned in briefly to the online lecture which was running and heard him say something about ‘Prunella’s cows’ and realised, with amazement, that I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about.

15:30 – Something clicks, I sit down with some cases to read and a highlighter and suddenly my concentration arrives out of the blue and, with the help of two cups of coffee and nine cups of tea, stays with me for a few hours.

16:50 – My hand/eye co-ordination fails me as there isn’t room for it to continue operating whilst my brain is attempting to remember everything. I spill tea down my front and all over my leg and textbook.

17:25 – Still reading and highlighting. Have now eaten all the goji berries and pumpkin seeds.

18:00 – It was around this time that I lost the ability to spell or write legibly.

20:45 – Finally finished reading cases and had a barbecue to celebrate…

21:00 – Enjoyment guilt set in and I picked up my case book and kept reading til 22:45.

Vital stats from my day.

Amount of hot drinks I consumed = 21.

Amount of water I drank = approx. 2.5 litres.

Amount of ingredients I have left to put in cakes = 0

Amount of food left in the fridge = a few strawberries, blueberries and a jar of marmalade.

Amount of weight I estimate I put on = half a stone, easily.

Amount of times I checked Facebook = approx. 4000

Amount of times I checked my emails = approx 200

Percentage of time I spent despairing = 50%

Percentage of time I spent feeling ready for exams = 50%


POINTS TO NOTE –

1. I did not change out of my pyjamas all day.

2. I caught sight of myself in the mirror before I went to bed and I looked pretty rough.

3. I created 41 possible alternative careers for myself during this revision day.

Things I believed as a child

A girl who lived on my road told me that sometimes flies can burrow through your scalp and get into your brain.

She also told me that if you swallow chewing gum it can go into your insides and wrap around your heart.

When a plane flies overhead, if you wave to it and it flashes its red light, it means the pilot has seen you and is letting you know.

 

Be careful!

If the wind blows while you’re doing a stupid face, it will stick that way.

My parents once convinced me that my birthday was on April 25th (it’s not). I remember being extremely doubtful at first then thinking it must be true because they were so convincing.

You never digest sweetcorn! It stays in your tummy FOREVER!

A teacher at school when I was about eight told us that there are lots of little men living inside your body, making sure it works properly and when you feel ill, the baddies were winning. If you take a little nap, it means the goodies can concentrate on fighting the baddies and making you feel well again. I think she meant it symbolically but I was fascinated for many years afterward about this whole little-men-living-inside-me thing.

This one is from infant school. A rumour flew around that when you moved up to junior school, if you wore glasses, the big kids would call you ‘four-eyes.’ We were quite intimidated by this rumour. I’ve no idea why it made such an impact on me as I’ve never worn glasses.

If you step on the lines while walking down the corridor at school, you fancy Marvin! (If you were a boy, I think you were told you fancied Hayley.)

When you’re a grown up, you wear make-up. That’s just what all grown-up women do. When the girl who lived on my road, and who told me about flies and chewing gum, said she wasn’t going to wear make up when she grew up, I was shocked.

My dad once told me that if you eat the instant custard powder straight from the jar, you have to be careful because it would get to your stomach and form a big lump of custard that would get stuck there.

If you sit too close to the TV, your eyes will go square. I was pretty terrified of this one because sometimes my dad would say, ‘O they’re already changing a little bit! Be careful! You’d better sit back!’