Cannoli Get Better?

Good news from His Nibs today in his latest post. A number of good news pieces, for him – Villa Angela has once again opened its doors (just in case that whole “being the frontman for the best live band in the world” suddenly starts to go all pear-shaped after 40+ years, like). Whilst it remained closed to the public during lockdown(s), the space didn’t lay dormant, as he went on to explain. The fruits of it in summary – new SM music making its way to the general public imminently. 

If the things I have been seeing bandied about in the fandom are to be believed, somewhere around October is the projected ETA. (Or should that be ETR – estimated time [of] release?) Just in time for my birthday…the final Friday of the month falling on October 28th. That’ll do me just fine, thank you very much! 

With that I am assuming there will be a plan for a tour next year to properly unleash it to the world in a similar vein to how Walk Between Worlds was thrust upon the world? Usually with new music comes a new tour, so I am very much hoping this will be the case. I already have targets in sight for where I’d like to see them play – somewhat dependent upon the venues chosen and my state of health and availability next year. As well as the old financial impact with such things! 

I’m already bringing my mindset back to being of the feeling of ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’ – so, all being good I’d like to do Amsterdam (must be the Paradiso venue though, otherwise…meh) and Berlin. At the moment I am seeing that, from Paris, the tour’s schedule takes them on to Berlin and it’s killing me! Berlin has been my ‘bucket list’ destination for more years than I care to remember now. So, Amsterdam would be nice, but Berlin is a must! And I’m not even fussed by the venue.

Pre-Covid, I could have just thrown caution to the wind and at this late stage had tagged on going to Berlin straight after Paris, but I can’t do that now. After Paris all I have left is Blenheim Palace and the two Edinburgh Summer Sessions shows and they’ll have to suffice this year. I’ve gone to fewer gigs this year than on previous tours, but only by ONE GIG – it just feels so much less this time. In real terms, and if I factor in that I had at least gone to Copenhagen before the tour halted in 2020, I haven’t gone to any less shows on this tour. Actually, with Copenhagen being my own personal SAF/SFC accumulative tally dilemma (ie: do I count it as two gigs or one? Two distinct and separately billed gigs, just on the one night – and a largely separate audience at both gigs, etc, etc – I count it as two) it could be argued that I will have been to TEN gigs on this tour and therefore it will have been my biggest tour yet!

I’ll have to be more concise and restrained next time. A few shows here in the UK, Berlin as my main overseas jaunt – possibly Amsterdam if it’s at the Paradiso…if not then maybe somewhere else in Germany…Hamburg or Cologne? We’ll see. I’m getting ahead of myself. Before moving away from the topic though, I need to factor in where I will be study wise as well and try and work around that also. I’ll have another module of my course to complete next year before I actually DO get my DipHE in English. Then I will be thinking about moving forward to getting an actual undergraduate degree. 

Briefly on that note – I had a ‘school day’ yesterday. Online tutorials taken as one long block like this, instead of the broken up evening options are referred to as a ‘school day’ as it is a day long set of tutorials starting at 10am and finishing at 3.15pm. I have really enjoyed the previous two school days I had attended and was highly anticipating this one but it left me a little … deflated and unmotivated, sadly. The first tutorial was good. The tutor is very engaging and likes to be very interactive with the students and that’s great. I personally found the topic of this block of four the least ‘interesting’ for me. I don’t know why? Perhaps because I studied the week prior to the block of SM gigs I had coming up, maybe? I should have found it quite interesting as I do love the visual arts, but of the visual arts, sculpture is something that I love most in its modern form and we were looking at Greek and Roman sculpture – from the Archaic Greek (used in its purely academic context), through to the Classical Greek, to the Roman style and only just coming into the time of CE (after the birth of Christ) – to the first and second centuries CE. So…very much NOT modern sculpture. It was enjoyable enough though. 

The next was ‘The Blues’ and this was where my interest lies the most especially for working on my next assessment. I am still weighing up whether to work on my assignment topic as being this, or whether I take a flying leap of faith in myself and take the ‘Writing Stories’ topic and hope for the best? The tutor was engaging but … I didn’t feel like I was getting good guidance or being instructed with much clarity and there were some technical issues that were hindering the tutorial so I came away from it feeling somewhat disappointed. 

We took a break for lunch. The creative writing (ie: Writing Stories) tutorial was next. It was a really tough study week for me, this topic. I didn’t feel any more confident about it being the next tutorial as I took my lunch break. I was dreading it in actual fact. The reality was ssooo different! The tutor scared the crap out of me at the beginning of the tutorial by saying “I am going to give you all time to write something out today”. I had flashbacks of the rare days I’d be in school and we would be given writing tasks and there’s me, staring at a blank page as the minutes tick by and I am paralysed with indecision and inability to put pen to paper on command. 

I embraced it when it came time. We were at least given a starting point. I ran with my starting point and wrote out nearly 200 words in the 10 minutes we were allotted to continue on with one of the story arc options we could choose from. When the tutor returned, we were given another 5 minutes to develop the story from a different perspective. I then wrote out another 80 odd words in the 5 minute allotted block. Both pieces were fluent, linear pieces of imagery and dialogue. Proper scenes. I was really pleased with that. Whether I do anything with it? Whether it becomes part of what I produce for my assignment? At this stage I am unsure. The next assignment is just over three weeks away and although I have done some minor planning (producing a plan is part of the mark for the next assignment), I am still weighing up on deciding my topic.

I seem to have to keep reminding myself who I am. A psychiatrist would have a field day with me, I’m sure! Also…nothing REMOTELY embarrassing revealed in some of the scribble, eh?

Finally, the last tutorial was on reading poetry. I have not studied the unit yet. I will be doing that this week (before Paris!). The tutor was not very engaging and got bogged down on the details of what was required and expected of students if they choose to take the reading poetry unit as their assignment topic. About halfway through I was losing the will to live! I was not engaged with this tutorial at all and I started doodling on this large brown cardboard backed envelope I have on my desk. (See the photo above for all the gory details.) We finished a little early – just after 3pm. I was ssoooo grateful!

Anyway, this was meant to be BRIEF! I’ve taken up half the post with my uni crap! Sorry! It’s the current grapple I have with this blog! I keep wanting to keep this current and fresh with Simple Minds news – but my own personal stuff is occupying my time.

In summary – THERE IS A NEW SIMPLE MINDS ALBUM(s?) TO LOOK FORWARD TO! And…with a new album comes a new tour (one would pretty much guarantee to assume).


I’m Okay, You’re So-So – The Ups And Downs Of Study

This week has been an iffy week with study. But that’s nothing new. It seems to be a trend. 

My first week, the introductory week – I felt I had a handle on things. I knew my way around the OU site well enough, as I had been familiarising myself with it as much as I could before study began. 

At the end of the introductory week I felt optimistic about things and eager to get under way. 

Then, Cleopatra happened! I was really enthusiastic about the first week of study and learning about Cleopatra. Well, more learning about Cleopatra’s “reputations”. The last time I studied academically was… in 1990 – a loooong time ago (I had studied vocationally on and off during the 1990s). I studied what was the equivalent of the GCSE, which in New South Wales at that time was referred to as the GCE (General Certificate of Education). I had left school at 14 with no qualifications. This is not how I wanted things to be. 

So, in 1990, aged 19 (turning 20 towards the end of the year) I decided that I actually DID want SOMETHING to my name. I wanted SOME academic level of education. 

As usual, it was the more scientific elements of the course that I enjoyed more – mathematics, biology, chemistry – I wasn’t very good at them. I got by. I think I achieved a pass. English was always a struggle for me. But I just about managed a pass in that too. But my really good result – my A pass was in history. And my pass was achieved with an exam on ancient Egypt. 

With that in mind, I had really high hopes that I would enjoy the week on Cleopatra. Well, no one was more surprised than me to find that the week on Cleopatra to me felt like pulling teeth! 

I think because the week involved…the whole module actually is more about teaching you HOW to study well. Really making you focus on academic study and how to be a great, resourceful and researching student, it sent me on a spiral. 

I want to do well. I want to achieve an objective! I have my own goals for this diploma. I want it to take me down the creative writing path. Again, my years of feeling like I barely have a grasp on the English language at all has me absolutely flabbergasted and astonished that this is now the course of academic study I am taking. 

At the end of week two, I was full of doubt. Questioning if I even had it in me to do this. 

I had to learn to look at it and myself objectively. I am LEARNING. I have this crazy notion in my mind that I should know this stuff already. When I have the inner dialogue with myself about why I was feeling so low and disheartened at the end of week two, it was because I expected myself to know how to answer things.

It’s a lifetime of picking up bad habits and doing things in the way you know how that is acceptable and gets you through. I have to learn so much again, not just academically but intellectually, emotionally, philosophically. To learn to live with the emotions that come with “Yes! You are going to get things wrong. You literally cannot know EVERYTHING. You are LEARNING. And you will grow. And you will get better.”

So, I gave myself a talking to. “It’s week TWO. WEEK. TWO! Stop being so hard on yourself! And stop thinking you should know EVERYTHING already!!”

Week three was studying the reputations of Mary, mother of Jesus (as she is being described in the study module). Again, no one was more surprised than me that I would enjoy an element of Religious Studies so much. There were a few little downs over the course of the week. I obviously didn’t start out feeling terribly optimistic, despite the talk I gave myself, and reassurances from friends telling me to give myself a break and not to be so hard on myself. Overall the week on Mary was a much better one. 

This week we’re looking at Elizabeth I and over the past 20 years I have in my own time and at my own pace studied Tudor history. 

My study is now feeling more balanced. It’s a true rollercoaster. One day great, the next day… not so great. But I am learning to take the rough with the smooth. 

The bad day was Tuesday. A thing happened on Tuesday afternoon here. What I had assumed was an attempted break-in because the door was trying to be forced with such strength and effort, I was convinced someone had tried to break their way in through the side kitchen door. I was in the kitchen at the time and it really shook me up. I was a complete nervous wreck for the rest of the day.

That evening we had a group tutorial session. I was buoyed by that. My fellow students and my tutor are good people. I felt nervous but willing to interact and be involved. We were left with some exercises to do the next day, which then had me spiralling down again.

I put ssooo much pressure on myself. And on Wednesday I had a real wobble. In retrospect, the aftermath of what happened the previous afternoon playing its part combined with me just being far too hard on myself yet again. I got teary-eyed. Full-on emotional wobble. 

But Monday felt great. And Tuesday felt really good academically as well. And I really enjoyed the group tutorial. So I took those good feelings and wiped Wednesday away. A fellow student got in contact with me and told me not to put added pressure on myself. So, there shows how much I am trying to run before I can walk when even a fellow student in my module is telling me to be kind to myself! 

And so…I am learning! I am learning to ride the rollercoaster of academic learning again. That like with most things in life there are good days and bad days. And the good days ALWAYS make up for the bad ones. And yesterday was, again, a good day. I am enjoying Elizabeth I as I thought I would do. 

I like being a student. And I love the study. I love learning. And I am wanting to “fail better”. I think I am starting to “fail better”. These first few weeks of study are proof of that to me.