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Tuesday, 6 October 2009

How to study

Its Tuesday afternoon, one of the few periods of the week uninterrupted by troublesome lectures, gym attendance, football matches and renovations. I suppose in the olden days, a married couple (such as we are), anxious to arrange their lives to less resemble a pair living through the after effects of a global catastrophe (which describes most people I know) and striving to avoid being the cause of any further chaos (which has been a theme throughout our partnership) might sit down at the dinner table, clear it of unnecessary cats, and one might ask the other :

"My dear, what are you doing tomorrow? I know you have your little women's coffee morning on Thursday, rehearsals for the amateur players on Wednesday, and a court apppearance on Friday following that unfortunate incident in the fishmongers last week over the last piece of haddock, but I seem to have forgotten what occupies your pretty little mind this coming Tuesday".

The significant other would probably respond:

"Silly old thing, I'm off to Raquel's on Tuesday, there's a rather good all-male troupe of strip-artistes in town. Burlesque's all the rage, dont you know?"

The male might laugh, then reply that he was a silly, old thing, omitting to add that he was also going grey, bald and fat and that some of his teeth were a bit loose, but would theatrically slap his forehead and agree that as his paranour was engaged, it would be acceptable for him to go and watch he football, down at the local pub. Schedules agreed, the co-habitees wold carry on reading their papers.

Today, of course, all this has changed. It has taken weeks of negotiation, juggling, accomodation, planning and hypothesising to arrange our schedule. Most of this communication has been by electronic means, mostly because when we ask eachother in the traditional manner, the reply is invariable "Let me check my calendar. Ah! It appears as if I've just missed a waxing. I wish these things would be more consistent in sending reminders."

Nevertheless, accomodation has been made, and schedules have been set, despite that I have missed several waxings. I get home from the morning's lecture with enough time to cram in a good four hours study, park the Crosstowner affectionately in the hall and set to.

Before I study though, there are a few little things I need to do. Firstly, I open the back kitchen door to allow the cats some outside time, as they resolutely refuse to exit unless one or the other of us is watching. Then I open my laptop. I check the football results again to see if they have improved since Sunday, and they have not. Then I investigate further the brilliant new anthropological theory that occured to me while I was in my "Inclusive Learning" class earlier in the morning. Suddenly, it looks as if Calli, the smaller of the two cats, is having difficulty killing a particularly attractive songbird that is busy twittering above her in the bushes outside. She meeps plaintively, so to help her get over her disappointment, I play a good game of "pounce" with her for ten or fiftenn minutes. Game over, I realise I'm hungry, so I eat a few slices of bread (with marmalade), make a cup of tea and sit down. Realising I have'nt organised my study schedule for the afternoon, I draw up a to-do list. The list extends into domestic tasks as well, mainly because I realise we havent yet downloaded tonight's television watching, or arranged anything to eat for our evening meal. A quick dash to the local store for provisions, set the computer up to download, make another cup of tea, e-mail RHB to remind her that I am at home studying. Suddenly my computer beeps at me, and the recieved e-mail reminds me I have night school that evening. I realise my wet weather gear isnt organised, so just in case, I find it all, ready to pack for tonight's class, and in doing so, discover that my cycling shorts are dirty. Not wanting to waste energy, I organise a full load of washing. By this time, Calli wants stroking, and Tosh wants to play, RHB has e-mailed to ask me to get something out of the freezer for her tea, and I remember I have'nt posted the first edition of "Bike" to a friend, a canvasser is knocking at the door, a neighbour wants me to throw the kid's ball back over the fence, JJ has texted me to arrange a drink, and I need another cup of tea.

I glance at the clock. It's four pm. How on earth did this happen? We planned everything ! The clock must be wrong, so I check, but alas, none of the clocks in the house disagree. There is only one refuge for students in need of a quick, compressed study, so I Google "Traits Theory" and click without hesitation on the Wikipedia entry. The "Trait theory" entry doesnt list "disorganised" as one of the Big Five Personality traits, but it does include the following fascinating observation:

Current research concentrates on a number of areas. One important question is: are the five factors the right ones? Attempts to replicate the Big Five in other countries with local dictionaries have succeeded in some countries but not in others. Apparently, for instance, Hungarians don’t appear to have a single Agreeableness factor.[55] Other researchers find evidence for Agreeableness but not for other factors.[56]

Obviously, my afternoon has not been wasted after all. A whole new line of anthropological investigation has been opened.

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