Thursday, August 30, 2007


Exams done. Farewell party attended and done. Farewell to the books and the bright young things, and HELLO GAY PAREE! Catch you on the flipside.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Exams, visits, and a bellyful of arms and legs

Hello from England in late summer, where it is pissing down raining with a princely top of 21 degrees. Fortunately, Mum got a week of really lovely summer weather before we returned to the whinge-worthy stuff going on outside the window now.

Mum arrived the day after exam No.1 and had a bit of a nightmare flight, but recovered pretty well. She only had a few days where she couldn't remember what she'd done. We warmed up with some trips around the lovely surrounds - Kensington Palace Gardens, etc - before graduating to a hike into the city through every beautiful park you could think of, and so on. Actually she must have walked a million miles while here; the problem with our flat is that it is in LONG walking distance of everything you can think of, and it seems a pity not to walk given that it is scenic and extremely flat, so then every adventure has 2 hours of walking added. Oh well.

Mum had been given a list of five hundred places to see by friends and acquaintances, and in fact she did rather well at ticking them off, covering all major galleries and museums in metro London. We also fitted in field trips to Hampton Court, Bath (via Avebury stones - because what better to do with a 6,000 year old stone circle than graze sheep upon same?) and she also went on a solo adventure south to Sissinghurst Castle Garden, former home of Vita Sackville-West. Her pictures looked amazing so I will have to try and get there before we leave. Anyway, she was a very considerate houseguest and made sure to leave me time to study every day, as well as do an exam, which is a pity because I really like excuses not to study! In fact, I was getting much more study done while she was here than I have since because, as is probably obvious to anyone who knows me, I am inherently lazy and need someone standing over me with a big stick to get anything done.

On the subject of exams, exam No. 2 was waaaaaaaaaaay better than No. 1. I didn't spend the next two days freaking out about what I'd failed to put in my answers or anything. If anything, the problem with that one was I was spoiled for choice on question topics, having prepared far too many. Good questions though. You know you are a freak when you are feeling stimulated and challenged and entertained IN AN EXAM. Plan B's increasing bulk meant I had to have a toilet break halfway through, but otherwise a very good exam. Now I just have to get through copyright on Tuesday next week and I am DONE DONE DONE. Slight problem: Notting Hill Carnival with several million attendees expected is happening one block from our house, all long weekend. Conditions for study may not be entirely ideal.

Plan B also had an exam this week; the 21 week anatomical ultrasound. And despite the fact that I was freaked out for roughly two months beforehand (despite having absolutely no reason to be so - I am a walking, talking waste of a low-risk, easy pregnancy) it couldn't have gone better,
really. All baby's bits are exactly where they are supposed to be and doing what they are supposed to do, and we even found out the sex, although people have to beg me if they want me to tell them. The ultrasound tech was much better after the first part, where I was alone waiting with the ultrasound goo stuff all over my belly for Mum and Grant to come in and the tech happily started taking skull measurements from the top (ie no other baby bit visible) until I said..."um, is it alive?" when she promptly started doing a lot more "oo, everything is perfect" stuff. Grant wins awards for his uncanny ability to determine what bit is what (including, according to him, determining sex before it was announced) based on an ultrasound screen, whereas I am forever asking "what's that bit?"

Baby was punching and kicking up a storm which was cool to see, and apparently one of the reasons why I can't feel it is a helpfully anterior placenta, ie baby is punching and kicking the crap out of a nice big cushion on the front side of the uterus, not me directly. Good to know so as not to freak out quite so much as previously. Apparently Plan B will outgrow this soon enough, but I predict that by that point I will go from feeling nothing to being beaten up, if the size of its Donnelly calves were anything to go by.

In conclusion: Plan B is not just a giant bump requiring a total change of wardrobe, it is a baby. I will not however take the step of proving this with the ultrasound pictures because they are somewhat scary looking and might put you off your tucker. And to think that Plan B was so photogenic at 12 weeks!

Grant finishes work today, so I have washed my last business shirt. RAWK! Then we are both unemployed albeit not homeless YET. Post-Tuesday exam we are off to Paris for our anniversary (pregnant and in Paris for our first anniversary is quite a cliche, hey? Unless of course the eleven years beforehand are taken into account), then to Geneva to visit friends, then home for the arrival of Grant's parents. Still busy busy busy!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Oh dear.

Well. I had my first exam today and at the time it seemed OK (other than the horror when I realised they weren't asking what I expected them to, cutting me out of a question I wanted to answer and making me do one that was a bit fudgy instead) but in hindsight it was a bit brutal and I'm not sure how well I did, although I did at least write A LOT (3500+ words in 3 hours excluding working, by my calculations).

I am a bit worried because I seemed to be referring to the same things over and over again in different contexts which is not a good sign - makes it look like one doesn't know enough to mount an argument! Anyway, that's partially the fault of the questions, since for part of each of three questions I was answering "how does IP account for...human rights/Locke and Hegel's theories of property/competition" and surprisingly enough (NOT) the parts of IP that protect human rights are those that preserve the common are those that preserve competition in the marketplace, so it was bound to be a bit repetitive. That was only one LONG paragraph of each of my answers though so here's hoping I'm freaking out for no reason.

In conclusion: I know I didn't fail, and I know that if I didn't do well it was my brain's fault, not the absence of study (well, not the absence of study except where I studied the WRONG THING), but I think this one's a merit not a distinction. Which tragically means to have any hope of a coveted LLM with Distinction I have to knock trade marks and copyright out of the park. And frankly, I don't think I'm going to. I hope you will all still love me anyway.

Conclusion 2: Plan B's brain wasn't very helpful at all. I thought for sure it would have some tips about territorial limits on trade marks, but not so.

Mum's here at dawn's crack tomorrow. WOOHOO!

On the subject of rudeness

In our neighbourhood, which admittedly has its colourful aspects, it is not rude to: spit on the footpath, have street parties at 2am, open your window so everyone can share your crap R&B (at 2am or otherwise), walk on whatever side of the footpath, walk across the whole footpath three and four abreast so you can keep up your conversation and ram everyone else out of your way, or to disregard traffic signals, including zebra crossings.

It is, however, according to a taxi driver, rude not to thank someone for stopping for you at a zebra crossing (note that as far as I can see my only error was not to thank him; I didn't give him the finger or attack his vehicle). He screamed at me: "Where are your manners?" I answered: "It's a pedestrian crossing." He shouted back: "What's that got to do with anything!"


We have actually had similar fun times with cars stopping mid-road for no apparent reason with no signalling whatsoever and then getting cross because we didn't thank them for stopping for us. Because that was obviously what was going on.

Note that I did however give a nod to the guy who not only stopped at the pedestrian crossing when I was walking home but also did so having read that I was approaching same, ie. before I had to throw my body across the road in an effort to get people to pay attention TO THE CLEARLY MARKED, SIGNPOSTED AND FLASHLIGHTED FREAKING ZEBRA CROSSING, because that is rare conduct that should be validated. But clearly from here on in I need to mend my ways and shall be thanking every car who ever stops for me at a zebra or lights crossing for say, three or four cars back, just to be safe, because GOD FORBID SOMEONE SHOULD THINK I WAS RUDE IN A COUNTRY WHERE IT IS NOT RUDE TO SPIT ON THE FOOTPATH. In fact perhaps I should thank everyone I see abiding by the law.

Needless to say, diversion of traffic from the main road (with traffic lights every block) to our nearest cross-street (with pedestrian crossings every 3 blocks or so) today is not going so well.

And now I'm cranky because the stupid taxi driver has now thrown me off my exam game. Does "unwarranted verbal abuse from insane taxi driver" count for special consideration? Really looking forward to going home where people GENERALLY stop at pedestrian crossings and GENERALLY don't expect you to kowtow to them for doing so.

In other news, the good folks at Quorn(tm) have upped the creepy quotient with these: They taste pretty good albeit disconcertingly like the real thing. I am pretty sure they are, in fact, turkey (or people meat).

Thanks for reading, and for not murdering anyone today. I'm expecting you've all engaged in a little white-collar crime but who hasn't?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Chuffed, and also diligently avoiding study

I went into town today to meet up with Sarah and Bin for lunch in SoHo. It was very pleasant indeed, although close as we are to the city, a trip into town and back plus lunch will cost one 3 hours plus of study. Which of course made it all the better!

On the way back, a guy stood up on the train to let me sit. CHIVALRY IS NOT DEAD! Only now I'm sort of freaking out, because he did it as soon as I got on the train, I wasn't looking particularly hot and bothered (I didn't think) and I wasn't sticking my gut out. Clearly Plan B at 18 weeks down the road is loud and proud. Also I think I have to acknowledge that the majority of my bump is probably not actually intestine any more. Do bumps grow exponentially or to an asymptotic curve? Enquiring minds want to know.

Were you in the pixieflat at this point, you would discover me reciting the basic principles of EU competition law as it pertains to refusal to licence IP (Renault, Volvo, Magill, Ladbroke, Bronner and IMS - REPRESENT!); the economic justifications of IP law via Coase's Theorem, Pareto and Kaldor-Hicks optimality, Posner, Bentham, Mill and Machlup; and the use of natural rights property justifications of Locke and Hegel to justify IP. Basically what I'm saying is I sound like a crazy person. RUN AND HIDE.

OK, so by way of practice I just put myself through my first fake exam (well, 1/3 exam - a 1 hour paper) in approximately 7 years. And apparently all that GIVE ME THE ANSWER RIGHT NOW when I was a proper lawyer kept me in practice, because I can still do 6-and-change scrawled barely legible pages of essay, or roughly 1000 words, in the magical 55 mins, despite the fact that the question was beyond bizarre and I'm still not quite sure what it was getting at, which as we know is always a really good sign.

And now for a little more pretending to study. 70 hours and counting until Exam No. 1. Eeeeek.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


You may not be aware of this, but instead of a rising inflection at the end of a sentence to indicate a question mark, you can in this fair country just use the word "innit" to denote a question. Example: "Nice day today innit." NO INFLECTION NEEDED. Or, as one estate child said to another yesterday in my hearing (not, it should be noted, the 10 year old sharpening something and chasing an older child with it): "Let's get the bikes, it will be more better innit." OK, so the kid was maybe six, but he used a double comparative, failed to use the subjunctive, and then tacked innit on the end as if he was trying to SPIT IN THE FACE OF EVERYTHING I HOLD DEAR.

I finished my job this week and was given a very nice send-off of doughnuts and flowers. Sweet. The work was far from challenging, but the people were great and I shall miss them. Really looking forward to going back to my proper job in Oz at the moment, but that could be the exam factor. Funnily enough, having a job to go to, not to mention Plan B, does sort of make these the first exams I've ever sat that are totally and completely irrelevant to my future. But the degree was a little on the pricey side so here I sit with my books to justify it. Or really, here I sit writing this to avoid the books, but you get the general idea.

We didn't get up to much at the weekend other than bike maintenance (Grant) and study (me), except that we did stroll to the Church Street markets for the chicken tikka wrap of the Gods. That walk used to seem endless, but really it's incredibly short and completely flat. You really have to love this city. And then we strolled to Goldborne Road for the Portuguese tarts of the Gods, and that was basically it - no dim sum or anything. I'm saving my tourist energy for Mum's visit, which starts Tuesday next. Very exciting! Grant on the other hand is off on his Swiss torture escapade, I mean week-long mountain bike tour, starting sparrow's fart Saturday (I will be sleeping in).

Busy times ahead innit. Now back to the books.