Martin's Blog

May Ball

Posted by Martin Orr on Tuesday, 20 June 2006 at 15:40

This week is May Week, which is full of post-exam parties. In particular, a number of colleges hold May Balls which are absolutely massive; last night was Trinity May Ball (£205 for a double ticket). It rained lightly during the fireworks near the beginning but fortunately it was only a little, and the weather was otherwise good. We queued from 7pm but this was worth it as we got in very quickly after it started at 9pm, and stayed until 4.15am (it goes on until 6am, when it ends with a survivors' photograph).

As for things to do, there were so many it was impossible to keep track of them. There was a main stage with rock/pop bands, a jazz tent, a classical music room, swing/salsa/ceilidh dancing in the Great Hall and a cabaret tent, each with six or seven different acts over the course of the night. There was also a fairground, a synthetic ice rink and an endless supply of food and champagne.

During the fireworks, the Cam was totally blocked by punts who had come to watch - there might have been forty of them, plus some canoes. A few people came in punts in black tie and made an attempt to run up the bank and enter the Ball; these may have been just symbolic and certainly had little chance of success, there being a security guard every few metres.

-- Martin

no comments Tags cambridge, mayweek, trinity

Exams

Posted by Martin Orr on Monday, 05 June 2006 at 08:36

I am now half way through my exams - two gone and two to go. The first did not go as well as I had hoped - the questions just took a long time. The second one, which I had expected to be the hardest, turned out to be easy and I completed it in just over two hours (out of three). There are two more today and tomorrow. There are some strange things like the fact that the invigilators wear gowns (although in Oxford the students have to wear academical dress, at least while entering and leaving the exam hall), and they began by addressing us as "ladies and gentlemen".

I was reading that the prime minister, shortly after taking office, has to prepare secret instructions which are carried on the UK's nuclear-missile submarines; should they be unable to detect any sign of life from the UK for several days, the captain of the submarine on patrol will open the instructions and carry them out (although it's hard to see who the missiles would be targetted at post-Cold War). Anyway this makes me wonder: politicians probably give little thought to this area of responsibility until suddenly it hits them when they become prime minister, and certainly the electorate don't consider who they would trust to make such decisions when voting. So I suppose the question is what makes the prime minister better qualified than anyone else to make such decisions, and to have them carried out even after the country has been completely destroyed? I remember a science fiction book which contained a planet who left decisions about whether to go to war up to their military commanders and were astonished at the idea of giving politicians a say.

no comments Tags cambridge, exams, nukes, tripos

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