I took my bicycle out to Jesus Green for a ride, and optimistically put my River Island returns bag in the basket, thinking I may be able to cycle to the post office and return it. Alas, not only did that definitely not happen, but I also managed to fall off my bicycle and damage the chain. I was cycling towards the exit of the park, marked by a metal fence and creating a relatively narrow path for a bicycle to go through. As I cycled quite smoothly towards it, I saw two women cycling towards me.
I panicked. As I panicked, I told myself not to panic. As I told myself not to panic, I found myself veering, as if uncontrollably, towards the fence on the right. As I found myself veering towards the fence on the right, I told myself, Don't crash. Don't crash. Don't crash.
As I told myself not to crash, the right handlebar (?) of my bicycle collided with the fence. My bicycle toppled over, spitting out the contents of its basket. And me? I was agile enough to avoid falling off the bicycle and leapt out of the way before it could fall on a part (or two) of my body.
The two women weren't even coming into the park via that entrance; they took another path and kind of laughed at me. Thanks a lot! And so I decided, I've had enough of this fucking primitive form of transportation, locked my bicycle to the fence and walked to the post office and returned my River Island stuff.
When I returned to the bicycle, I discovered that the bicycle chain fell off when the bicycle crashed to the ground. But thankfully there was a shop just round the corner and I got it restored immediately for free. I was also told that it is perfectly normal for my feet not to touch the ground when I'm seated on the bicycle; otherwise, I would injure my knees.
This bicycle business is bizarre as fuck. I also hate how I get dirt on my palms and fingers every time I lock and unlock the bicycle because of how dirty the lock is. If/when I start cycling to places for real, I will carry wet wipes with me.
The next thing that I am going to write about is going to sound silly and insignificant, and it probably is, but I will write about it anyway.
On Tuesday, I met a guy from the Law PhD for coffee at Fitzbillies. It was prima facie a date because he asked me out rather out of the blue; but it turned out not to be for reasons that I will mention later. On Wednesday, I had a quick breakfast and coffee at Fitzbillies where Matt was uncharacteristically unfriendly; didn't say hi, reverted to some generic latte art (but still pretty), half-heartedly said 'bye' without even looking up at me when I said bye to him as I left. Today, I went in to get coffee to go and was surprised to see him there as it's Thursday and he doesn't work on Thursdays. First, he asked me what I wanted; as if he didn't know what I wanted. Second, I forced small talk out of him by asking him why he was working today, and he barely looked at me as he said that he was taking some days off and going back to Manchester or something like that.
It didn't make me sad or moody; I was more perplexed than anything. I've spent the past two months going to that cafe and seeing this one guy five times a week, and every time I would spend a minute or two talking to him about nothing in particular. Every time I talked to him about nothing in particular, he was always nice; it was a matter of how nice. Every now and then he would do something great like give me free coffee, and he did small things that made me feel special even if I wasn't; things like remembering my name (even if mispronounced), following up on previous conversations, etc. He brightened up a portion of my paper-rewriting summer, beginning with the time he gave me a free banana and free coffee. There were some days when he was literally the only person that I talked to the entire day, and those few minutes of idle chatter with him while he made my coffee added a touch of pleasantness to an otherwise stressful day.
And so of course I would notice when he's suddenly different and weird. Of course, he's under no obligation to be nice to me; no one else that works there has been nice to me the way he has. But it's hard to take it back one day, out of the blue, when a pattern of behaviour and interaction has been established, and so I can't help but wonder what the hell did I do?
This all quite reasonably raises the question of why I even care. He's not a friend, not a love interest, not even an acquaintance, just the guy who makes me coffee that I pay for. But he's part of a daily routine, part of the equilibrium, if you will, and these short but frequent interactions with him over the past two months have given rise to the illusion that he's a part of my life. I mean, I would feel like something were lost if he suddenly quit and disappeared. It wouldn't be a massive sense of loss, but it would still have some effect on me. Likewise, the daily trips to the cafe would be significantly different, too. It's already different when I go there on his off days.
So the point is, it's objectively not a big deal because it's not like he's a huge part of my life; but it is still extremely noticeable and perplexing anyway. Besides, I am always curious to know why someone seems to have a problem with me out of nowhere.
I eventually made it to the faculty. The guy that I had coffee with at Fitzbillies sits opposite me in the library. This is significant: I didn't really feel like seeing him around anytime soon because I found out after coffee on Tuesday from a mutual friend that he has a girlfriend - a girlfriend that was not mentioned at any point during the 1.5 hours I spent with him. So the whole thing felt dishonest and slimy, and it put me in a really fucking bad mood for the rest of the evening and over the next day.
I mean, he sits where he sits, and my desk is my desk, so seeing him shouldn't be a shock. But I was totally not thinking about this guy at all when I reached the library, and so seeing him was a bit like a slap in the face. I spent some time feeling annoyed and repulsed especially when he said hi to me after enough time had passed to foreclose the need to say hi to greet someone whom you've just seen.
But I focused on what I wanted to work on and it worked, and after a while, I decided that I couldn't be fucked. I went downstairs and saw Tom and I couldn't be fucked. I decided that ignoring people who wronged me in some way or other is too much effort; it takes more energy to ignore someone than to be blithely civil towards this person. The act of ignoring paradoxically places the person being ignored at the forefront of your mind, hence taking up too much energy; on the other hand, being merely civil to this person means that there's really no iota of the most microscopic cell in your body that gives the slightest rat's ass about this person, which means that no energy is required.
Ergo, I can't be bothered. There are more important things in life than random men, such as this paper that I want to write. It's related to my PhD but it is not my PhD. It is also a response to an article written by my Contract Law tutor that argues why a liberal approach to 377A is wrong and why a communitarian approach would retain it. I want to say that she's wrong on all counts and demolish her arguments - especially the communitarian one. It makes me really angry when phrases like 'the common good' and 'communitarian' are bandied about by conservatives as if these terms self-evidently make the arguments for them. They do not. It is debatable whether the common good requires an articulation of public morality, and more importantly, she doesn't explain what 'the common good' is in any great detail save for one sentence, something about public values, etc.
And communitarianism? Don't get me started on how annoying it is when conservatives piggyback on the communitarian push back against excessively individualistic liberalism to push for an illiberal point of view. I think it does communitarianism a huge disservice when an academic does not develop a nuaced conception of it, makes a rough sketch of what she thinks it means based on an encyclopaedia entry and an article or two, and uses it to argue for an illiberal position. The brief and frankly inadequate sketch of what communitarianism is is meant to do a lot of the argumentative work, but it is such a brief sketch that it fails to explain why we should prefer this account of communitarianism and not a more inclusive one. Besides, I really think that, if one were to properly analyse the concept inherent in communitarianism - community - one would not reach the conclusion that communitarianism requires the retention of 377A.
Anyway, it is 1.13am and I am too tired for semi-intellectual thoughts, and so I will move on.
There was a drinks reception for the journal which was nice. Raffie and I had dinner at Rainbow afterwards; it was 9pm when we got our food because we left the reception really late. Raffie was excellent company, as always. We laughed our asses off at a particular cover letter; I shan't go into details as this is a public entry. All I can say is that I will never stop finding this cover letter hilarious as fuck.
Raffie is going to the US for two weeks. I will miss him! It was funny listening to him complain about things that are wrong with the UK. It's also nice that I can talk to him about my pathetic love life because he gives good advice. I think he is my moral compass; before I do anything stupid, I should ask myself, 'What would Raffie say?' And so I will not put myself in temptation's way - temptation to do things that will feel good in the moment, but which I will regret when the moment has passed.
And so that's why I am going to bed feeling good. I am making some progress on this paper, and I have wonderful friends, and even though I have spent the last two nights unable to sleep due to my coughing, life is pretty good.