Friday 14th June 11.30pm day fourteen: 9.00pm – sharp Well here it is, the inevitable: the first photograph of my summer onehundred that both I absolutely hate and have to use. Woke up shattered, as I’d predicted. Talked over my day yesterday with Dad on the way into college and was showered with the news of a few rumours that are making their way around in form. Had double History first thing in which we focused on our extended projects – this is all we’re doing for the rest of term and then all through summer – for the first half, and then watched a programme dramatising Hitler’s life (I say ‘watched’: Mr D fast-fowarded through the first episode and explained what was going on so as to save time, since it is unnecessary yet useful for the course). Music third which we spent tidying up the Music Block in preparation for Music Open Day tomorrow morning, which unfortunately I am unable to attend. I cleared out Miss W’s shelves which contained about three years’ worth of scrap paper and old sheets. Spent lunch reading and then had fourth period free, in which Hetty and I finished our French homework. It took us longer than we thought and we were late to our lesson. Eleanor gave us white chocolate as we wrote CVs in French. Dad and I talked politics on the way home, but I pretty much crashed into bed straight away. Rosa encouraged me out into the driveway for pictures but the light wasn’t quite right, and the only shoes I had to hand were the excruciatingly painful ones, so I stumbled across our gravel drive in bare feet, and thought about the time I walked two miles home with no shoes on. ‘Painful freedom’ I called it then, and I still agree now.

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Thursday 13th June 11.30pm day thirteen: 4.10pm – Bismuth crystals at Cambridge market Extremely long but very rewarding day. Woke up at 5.30am, was out of the house by 6.45 and met Chelsea at the station to catch our 7.40 train to Cambridge. Louis joined us a couple of stops down the line. We talked of school and the PC results, and university. The man who joined us as there was nowhere else to sit informed us he’d attended Durham – and Louis then suddenly realised that he’d actually come into school a few months ago to give our optional Classics group an archeology talk! Coincidences like that are so odd. We arrived in Cambridge and made our way to St John’s – we were attending an English Literature Study Day at my dad’s old Cambridge College. We spent some time wandering around the town before heading into the Divinity School. After registering we attended an introductory lecture, followed by one regarding the importance of popular fiction before splitting into smaller groups to discuss a given short story – The Werewolf by Angela Carter, one of my favourite authors. It was pure chance that I happened to have read the story, and some criticism around it as well, and our group had some interesting discussion before heading down for our buffet. After lunch we were taken on tours around the College by some third-year English students. We glanced into the College library and Chapel, as well as walking through the courts and over the bridge. It is such a stunning place. I couldn’t stop thinking about Dad, and how many times he must have walked these same stone pathways – and all others who have walked it, from standard students to inquisitive tourists to extraordinary people such as Wordsworth. It was a little surreal for reasons I could not quite place. The afternoon began with another lecture-type activity entitled ‘Reading Difficult Poetry’ and we then split back into our seminar groups, to continue discussing the poem, Camping Out by William Empson. The day concluded with a talk from the St John’s admissions tutor about creating a competitive application, which was useful. Once all was done, we had an hour and a half before our train was due to depart. Louis, Chelsea and I decided to head back out into the town, and were joined by another guy, Seth. We took a walk through the market and talked to a woman selling crystals about her items, and steadily made our way up towards the train station where, after exchanging the spelling of names so as to find each other on Facebook later, we left Seth behind and boarded our train. As always, I couldn’t help but crack a smile at the sign on the platform. pretty sure there’s another university around here, too… Our journey back was quieter than our train down – all three of us suddenly became rather tired. I listened to Springsteen and then Frank Turner, and read a little…

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Wednesday 12th June 9.30pm day twelve: 11.30pm – cupcakes, courtesy of Rosa and Jonny Standard day. Went to college; didn’t get on to the Principal’s Council, but hadn’t expected to either. The first two hours of the morning were taken up with double English – one lesson spent on looking at the beginning of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and another studying Act One of Othello, which was all interesting and enjoyable. Skipped out on History in Period Three and instead spent it doing a workshop in music with up-and-coming reggae artist, Troyden. We got into groups and had to come up with a five-line verse of a reggae song. We had to be ‘positive’. Our lyrics were something along the lines of: Birds are singing in the trees With the sun and a gentle breeze Children playing out all day People just look on and say Smile, smile, smile, you gotta just smile, smile smile …inspired, right? But with the help of an amp-drum, a maraca, and some simple harmonies, it didn’t sound too bad – so much so that we won the mini-competition, which got us some signed posters and bracelets, and our recorded piece is currently on the website (it starts playing once the page loads). Beth is doing the main vocals, with Karen, James and I harmonising and Sam on percussion. All a bit mad, but a lot of fun! Spent lunch with some of the group as well as Troyden and his publicist ahead of his interview, and were later joined by our Head of Sixth Form, which was all very pleasant. Wednesday afternoons is Games, which basically means a double free for me. Today I spent it in Music, reading some more Brontë and playing violin for forty-five minutes. In fact, the entire day is usually pretty relaxed, and in the evening I go to County Strings which is always lots of fun. Billie was drowning in revision so I had to lead the orchestra again tonight, playing the same pieces as last week. Mark had chosen and bought one of the three violins, too, and is completely in love with it. Arrived home to cupcakes.

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Tuesday 11th June 11.45pm day eleven: 11.20pm – prospectuses A day off from lessons today. We spent the morning at the UEA’s Higher Education Convention, which involved around 120 different universities and businesses displaying stands, with representatives available to answer any questions and hand out prospectuses. I knew which unis I wanted to visit, and sped around gathering seven prospectuses: Cambridge, Warwick, UCL, Durham (who were only handing out their ‘Pocket Prospectus’), York, Kings College and Queen Mary. The thing is, I’ve done so much research on all of them that what I want to do now is not talk to people about the university as a whole – about student life, accommodation and so on and so forth; no, I want to talk to people about my subject. And there was no provision for that, so Will and I ended up standing at the side and chatting for about forty minutes, which was nice. We spoke mostly about the Principal’s Council elections taking place that afternoon. Ran through my speech in my head during the journeys but actually didn’t feel too concerned. We arrived back at school at 11am; hustings weren’t starting until 1pm, and we had the entire day off timetable, so spent a long time in the Sixth Form building, which we call the atrium. Talked to others who were running that afternoon, and skimmed my way through a couple of prospectuses, realising I hadn’t picked up any that required less than three A grades next year. Eventually 1pm rolled around. In a strange, unspoken agreement, the candidates divided themselves into gender and sat at tables on either side of the lectern where we would make our speeches, which could be no longer than two minutes (at that point, Mr G would cut us off). They alternated between the genders in alphabetical order, which placed me comfortably in the middle, just after Will, coincidentally. Some were what was expected, some were absolutely not; one or two really stood out for me, particularly from the male side. There were nineteen girls and fifteen guys competing for the twelve places, which will be equally balanced between gender, so it was extremely intense, and took well over an hour to get through all of the speeches. I was pleased with how mine went and did receive a few compliments afterwards – but to me, everyone deserves a place! So strange to think that in a mere nine hours or so I will know the results. Once hustings were over, we had almost two hours before the end of school. Mr G gave us an hour to cast our votes, and I congratulated a few people and thanked others. Talked to a staff member who was inconceivably helpful to me a few weeks ago when I had a complete breakdown in her office about the events of the weekend, and sat outside with some of the girls talking over the speeches. Happy and relaxed now the nerve-wracking part was over – it’s…

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Monday 10th June 11.55pm day ten: 11.50pm – I still have blisters from day four Some injuries can be hidden beneath a bandage until they heal. They might take a long time, but one day you’ll peel away the plaster and the skin will remain, just as before. Other wounds aren’t quite so simple. A rather calm morning in school. Bombarded with notices in assembly; the beginning of a film in French; a free spent reading Othello; an hour listening to someone from Swansea University. At lunch, Jamie appeared to visit for no real reason, and I caught up with Will: Editor-in-Chief of the Magazine, but also a good friend, now. Discussed the Principal’s Council elections tomorrow – we’re both running. Music was perhaps even more chilled than the rest of the day. Sixth Formers are allowed to sit in the staff room and drink tea, and we have an ongoing joke with Mr D that we should have our lessons in there, too. After suggesting it again today for the umpteenth time, we fell about laughing when he agreed. There’s a workshop this week regarding Benjamin Britten’s ‘Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings’, so we spent the lesson listening to the piece, reading the poems the music sets, and talking about it, which was all rather wonderful (and also involved copious amounts of tea and biscuits – extremely high-culture). After Music was History, but we had a supply teacher in a computer room, and Will and I wanted to make some final checks on the Magazine. Our official deadline was Friday – it was sent off, and the mock-up copy was due to arrive in school today, so we decided to go through the thing page by page, noting down any necessary changes – typing mistakes, places where you couldn’t read the text, and so on and so forth. We had thirty things by the end of the hour, when we went to see Dr K and our dummy copy. It was quite something to see this publication which we have spent God-knows-how-many hours on right there in front of us. Not on a screen but on real quality printer paper, available to hold in our hands – to look at my photographs covering double pages, my words staring out, begging to be read! It was wonderful, but unfinished. I left Will and Dr K to it, as I had a harp lesson to go to, which was intense but lovely. My evening has been spent preparing for the elections tomorrow. I have to make a speech, maximum two-minutes long, to my year group. It’s all a bit intimidating, but now I’ve written it I’m actually a little excited. We’ll see what happens. a present from Jamie

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