Monday, 30 January 2012

Paddon Award Entry

This is my entry to the Paddon Award, in association with the University of Exeter, under the brief "Your Exeter, Your University."
Edit: I wasn't shortlisted, but I'm still proud of the piece, and still feel very strongly about the brief, and Exeter itself, so please keep reading it.

My Exeter, My University, My Home

“Oh Exeter, is wonderful.”
At first it seems strange that what was introduced to me as a fiercely proud football chant should so acutely and accurately sum up my feelings towards this outstanding institution, especially as an avid avoider of almost all things sporting, but then it occurs to me how much my eyes, mind and heart have been opened to so many new experiences in my time here, and it almost seems fitting.
On an entirely superficial level the sheer, breath-taking beauty of both campus and the surrounding city inspire me on an almost daily basis, but the true impact of such accessible splendour runs far deeper. The seamless, constant harmony of pastures new, and old stomping grounds; the constant revolution of new souls, new prospects, and entire futures, with the University a hub of innovation and creativity that stands proudly above the skyline; a beacon of past, present and future in perfect equilibrium. Even on the greyest of Devon days this most extraordinary of places shimmers with possibility, and the constant hum of innovation and progression can always be heard, if you just take the time to stop and listen.
The notion of taking an institution to your heart, of feeling like you belong, seems at best a superficial one, but I can honestly say that Exeter and its essence of strength now pulse through my veins. As the Exe ebbs and flows, so university life meanders through highs, lows and extremes of existence, but the constant comfort of inevitable tidal regularity and stability, like that of the pillar of strength and celebrated creativity that is this institution, even in the darkest of times shines the light of guidance and reassurance in to all corners of life, perhaps most notably as a string of lights in the shape of a Christmas tree atop the physics building during the festive season.
The life-blood of regeneration undulates throughout this city, but it never seeks to wash away those people and things that it has already encountered. I know that I will always feel welcome here, as those who have already moved on do, and that in the inevitable story of my life, the chapter marked Exeter will be a full and vibrant one. That said, should the opportunity to plant roots here present itself, I shall be the first with wellies on, pitchfork in one hand, needle and thread in the other, ready to weave my story in to the tapestry of Exeter life.
Within this, the most communal and supportive of settings, I have been able to spread my proverbial wings, find my feet, and fulfil an entire plethora of clichés, all associated with starting the next stage of life after flying the nest. Clichés would not become clichéd if they weren’t true, in the same way that the intense passion and fondness for the University displayed by Exeter students and its alumni can of course be found within the pages of a prospectus, but also eavesdropped from a passing candid conversation, or gleaned from the proud declaration of the institution’s title across a myriad of colourfully-hooded chests.
Exeter has become a home to me, and while in the business of spouting the occasional cliché, I refuse to reduce everything that this university and this city means to me to a flippant, recycled utterance, or even so much as try. My connections to this place and its people are intensely personal, despite their resonance with the experiences of so many others, and it is this plurality of experience that makes it all the more special. To some, Exeter may simply be a point on a map, or just a choice of university, but for me, this is my Exeter, my university, and now my home.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Life in Print

Hello again. (Cue sheepish, apologetic smile)
I know I've been promising you new collections of words, but in truth, all my missives are being sent in various other directions, and I'm actually sort of living various different writing-related lives.
Please don't give me that look; it's not you, it's me. No, really! I seem to see an opportunity to write and jump in feet first without even the merest of glances back at little old you.
By way of the beginnings of an apology, let me link you to one of my pieces which just so happens to be online...

Check out page 7, the bit about flaming barrels of tar.

See; I have been writing. Now, back to that, er, other thing. *cough*