Birthday shenanigans, and the week from hell

Like Simon, I’ve spent most of the last two weeks in Exam Processing Hell. Part of my duties include collecting module marks from the various lecturers in the department and inserting them into a couple of fairly hairy databases. On the face of it that’s simple enough, but it’s fraught with all sorts of terrors, such as chasing late marks, keeping the vast amount of information thus produced organised, and dealing with all the annoying “edge cases” – that 0.5% of students who are, say, external candidates and for whom the rules are different.

Oh, it’s fun, and last week I basically work and slept, and was working after midnight on three occasions. Anton, my colleague in this venture, got it even worse, and was here all night one night…

So in short, it’s been Real Unpleasant, and I haven’t had much time for updates. However. I must record, as hinted at here, that I turned 30 last Saturday, and barring the obvious and unavoidable existential crisis which must accompany such an event, had a rather good time. I spent the day dressed as Spongebob Squarepants, in the company of two rather foxy mermaids, a couple of pirates, a flamingo, a tree (avec tres amusing monkey), a Pacific savage, a stochastic hammerhead shark, and a few normal people (here gathered). We had a great meal, a very pleasant cruise through the Mile, and a splendid all-night bonfire/barbeque courtesy of SUCS.

Being born in June has two big benefits. The first is that you’re as far from Christmas as you’re gonna get, so there’s a minimal risk of “well, OK, but it’ll have to be your birthday and Christmas present” type deals. This is important. Second, the weather’s often gorgeous, as was indeed the case this year. The sun shone, there was a pleasant breeze, my sponges soaked up the sweat (and, on a couple of occasions, the drink), and all was well. A few of us met up at Chez Bandy then perambulated through Mumbles (enduring or enjoying the stares of passers by) to the beautifully situated restaurant Castellemare, just around the headland with views of the Bristol Channel and the north coast of Devon. There we met the rest of our happy band, and had a rather yummy lunch. (Will, of course, was too immersed in abstract or poetic thoughts, to remember to pay, so we stung him for a round later.)

From my parents, I received a bicycle horn. It is mighty. From many, many, people (including my parents, they didn’t just give me the horn), I received one of these, which is very very nifty indeed. Andrew, of course, gave me a maul.

After lunch, we took a leisurely crawl back through the Mumbles Mile, taking it easy and trying not to get blue on everything. We touched base at Chez Bandy once again after that, before heading off to the beach for the bonfire. There were shenangigans and hijinks.

So, big up thanks to everyone who came and made it possible, apologies to anyone I offended or annoyed, and particular thanks to Andrew and Will for the photos. We’ll do it again next year, and every year after that until I’m 40, when the aim will be a party in space.