Archive for June 2008

An expensive lesson

June 14, 2008

We have a spare key for our house, hidden outside just in case we get locked out.  Usually this isn’t something to advertise, but I’m moving out in about a week, so I can’t see it mattering.

Last night was the Rowing Club Pimms Party, and I decided to leave my keys behind and use the spare to avoid pocket bulge (not a good look in Chinos).  I got home – drunk – and to make sure no one saw that I was using the spare key, I brought it inside and placed it in the inside of the door.

I saw it the next morning and thought to myself I had better make sure I take that out, as it is impossible to open the door from outside whilst the key is in there. About ten minutes later I nipped to the shop up the road, completely forgetting my own advice.  The rest should be painfully obvious.

And of course this was the day when all my housemates were away on a charity hitchhike so there was nobody in the house.

I spent the next hour making various attempts to get the key out. I got a wire hanger from two doors down and fashioned it into all manner of fun shapes in a futile bid to get the key out using the letter box.  Eventually, seeking refuge with the Girl Next Door (who more than deserves the capitalisation and just goes to show that every cloud…), I called a locksmith.

The chap arrived, spent less than ten minutes jimmying the door with a bit of plastic, explained that my type of door always causes these types of problems and were in fact the reason he became a locksmith, job done.  This cost me fifty pounds.  With the student discount.  And he was the cheapest of the three locksmiths I had called.

So I am fifty quid poorer, but learnt a little bit about doors and my neighbours, and a valuable lesson (namely don’t leave the spare key in the door when you’re going to be on the other side of it), so maybe it’s a fair trade?

No.  No it isn’t.  I got badly ripped off.


I can be your hero, baby

June 14, 2008
Me, the chief paramedic and a Birmingham Blade. Taken from the front page of the Worcester News

Me, the chief paramedic and a Birmingham Blade. Taken from the front page of the Worcester News

For those of you who don’t know (those not in contact with UBBC members or my parents), on Tuesday I saved a mother and child who had fallen into the River Severn.

I’d been teaching two girls from the Boat Club to scull and got a call from someone back at the boat house saying that someone had fallen in the water opposite the club house and I needed to go and pull them out. I made sure the two scullers weren’t going to fall in – again, in one case – and sped off down the river.

As I came under the bridge I saw mother – suspended by two life rings holding the baby – and another woman climbing down a ladder set into the wall trying to coax them towards it. I pulled in closer to the wall the woman jumped from the ladder to the launch and between us we pulled the mother and baby into the boat, got them wrapped in a towel, drove them to a nearby pontoon to let the paramedics take over and I went back to my scullers.

Both the mother and baby were fine, the child was scared and crying, but the mum was really relaxed and just trying to keep her daughter calm. I spoke to her on Wednesday night, and there’s been no ill effects (the baby was in the paddling pool on Wednesday afternoon) and the most damage between them was a bruise on the mother’s arm.

It was all luck really, very much a right place, right time thing. I was driving a launch and had my phone with me. No big deal, right?

With the paramedic team, as seen in the Birmingham Mail

With the paramedic team, as seen in the Birmingham Mail

A couple of hours later, I get a call from the coach telling me that someone from Worcester News was going to ask me for an interview and that I should say yes (and mention “University of Birmingham Boat Club” as much as humanly possible).  That was fun; I’ve never been interviewed before and mercifully the resulting article didn’t mention that I said “I just did what anyone else would have done”, which is such a cliché I actually cringed whilst saying it.After a couple of photos (quote of choice “have you got anything you can hold?”, I went and fetched a sculling blade), she mentioned that she had another photographer coming at two on the other side of the river and would I mind going over?  I saw no reason not to, so at Two o’Clock, I wandered across the bridge (still with the oar) and met about three camera men and half a dozen reporters from newspapers, radio and television, really wishing I’d shaved and had somewhere to put my glasses.  I think my spiel had gotten quite good by the time I’d finished.

I have now been mentioned on the front page of local papers, had an interview on local radio and TV news and even received a mention in the national press.  Most of the articles claim that I was a “passing rower”, which whilst true, has caused many people to think that I dragged mother and baby over the stern of a single scull, which amuses me to no end. I also got a special mention from the Vice-Chancellor at the Athletic Union Ball on Wednesday night saying that I “represent the values of the University of Birmingham”, and have been told that I might be getting a letter of commendation from him as well.

Here’s is the collection that I’ve amassed so far.

Worcester News interviewed me first, and they’ve had quite a few articles over the past few days.  Here’s the initial report, after which they put out an article on the front page!  They’ve also done a couple of follow-up articles

There was also a front page article in the Worcester Standard.

The Birmingham Mail did an initial report and then another article, though I should point out that I’m not a coach!

And a short article from the Birmingham Post

West Midlands

I was interviewed for ITV’s regional news programme Central West Tonight and they were kind enough to send me a DVD of the segment:

My nan has been telling everyone she’s met that her grandson is a hero, as a result I’ve also had my picture in the Runcorn World, which rather than temper my nan, has simply given her a visual reference to use as she accosts passers-by.

Thus far, the BBC news website have posted an initial report, followed the next day by an in-depth story.

I’ve also just found it in the Guardian at the bottom of the UK news in brief section, and I was mentioned in an article in the Daily Express, which I regard as the one downside of this.

What is it about me and exams?

June 5, 2008

Tuesday 13 May, 2008.  Unlucky for some…

It was about Ten o’Clock in the morning and I was about to start a days revision from my Spanish exam the next day.  I’d had a bit of a lie in, and was finally ready to open the books… right after I check the internet.

I decided to double check where the exam was being held, just so I was sure, so I logged on to my university’s website and clicked along to the exams page, saw where the exam was being held, and at what time and on what date… oh fuck.

Oh fuck! The exam was today!!

Here was the dim realisation that I had missed the start of my Spanish exam and was now beyond the half-hour boundary that they permit late-comers into the exam room.  I had completely convinced myself that the exam was on Wednesday 14th May – which was in fact the date of my French exam – so much so that, ironically I had told my housemate that I wouldn’t be walking with him to university that day as I didn’t need to be on campus.

After I finished stressing over the fact that my parents were going to disown me, I headed out to the university quickly after that to try and do some damage control. The people in the Languages office (including a professor who is basically an English Doctor Cox) were a great help and advised handing in a mitigations form and said they would argue the case for me to do a sit before the end of the exam period as opposed to a resit, which they did manage to do.

Thursday 5th June, 2008

I completed the exam, which went far better than I imagined it would, and found out the reason the Spanish department were willing to give me a second chance with the exam.  Initially I had thought it was because it was my “first offence” and it had been a genuine mistake, but have now been corrected.

I had sat the exam with four other students who had made exactly the same mistake as me, I knew this before I went into the exam room.  What I didn’t find out until after the exam was that the Spanish lecturer who had watched over us during the exam had himself missed an exam he was supposed to invigilate, once again, because he confused the dates.  I’m thinking when a lecturer misses the exam, the pupils get a bit more leniency too

So does Hispanic Studies breed incompetence or are absent minded people generally drawn to the subject?