we’ll have a storm now, and an earthquake if you like

Gather round me, all ye sinners, and hear the tales of The Redoubtable Beast, my noble steed, and the maintenance that nearly brought us both low.

Rear brakes had been so worn down they were grating metal against metal for a while. Right. Better replace them. I already had brakeblocks! Simple. My shiny new Allen keys, brake blocks, all good.

…except wait, these nuts are solid, and it’s the nut I need to get at, rather than the Allen key things. Also, one of the little nuts holding my mudguard on had fallen off. Right.

So I decided on Friday afternoon for parts purchasin’ and bike maintainin’. After Stuart’s seminar, cycled up to Selly Oak; realised I hadn’t brought my wallet. Hurr. Rode home for lunch and recriminations.

Went up to Halfords again, bought the mudguard nut, a cheap stamped metal multispanner thing, and some oil for my chain and gears. Went home and got out my Allen keys and brake blocks. Okay, the cosmetic stuff first. Detach light mounting and old rusted bell. Done! Done! Attach mudguard. Done! So far, so good. Brakeblocks. Twist. Strain. Oil. Twist. Strain. Why isn’t this coming off? Multispanner thing was completely the wrong shape and couldn’t get at the nuts, a real spanner was needed. Cycled down to the Bristol Road hardware shop and, with the aid of an extremely helpful hardware shop man who didn’t mind me taking the spanners out, got a 10mm spanner that would work. Cycled back home uphill in the gathering darkness, using front brakes only. Okay, time to get these blasted blocks on.
Yeah, except even with the right spanner and the right leverage it still didn’t work because everything was rusted shut. Even worse, on putting the cantilever brake assembly thing back together I realised I had lost a critical nut.


Sarah recommended a bike shop in Selly Oak, who weren’t open on the weekend; I intended to visit on Monday, but had a sudden case of essay fatigue and upon returning from disability assessment collapsed in bed and didn’t get up till nine in the evening.

Disability assessment thing: exam arrangements arranged, special tuition offers offered, and grant request sent off to DSA, who should be scheduling their own needs assessment with me sometime soon, though they apparently have an immense backlog of paperwork. Everything bright and shiny, just need to talk to Caterina at the start of next term to make all things clear to her.

Today I cycled up to Selly Oak for hopefully the last time this term to see if Selly Oak Cycles were as good as Siz sez. And they were. Fitted my brakeblocks, replaced my lost nut, and gave me a chocolate when I returned from Sainsbury’s to pick it up. For £5, half of what I’d spent on tools and bits in my own failed attempts to be handy. Service with a smile. I thanked them and promised to return next time I had any bike problems. Since I seem to have developed a flat tyre on the way back… this may be quite soon.

Essays are in. The assessed Military Revolution one for Stuart is, I think, good. The formative Strategic Air Power one was written almost entirely from own knowledge with references from unhelpful books fudged in around vague statements at the last minute, and while I think it would be a truly fantastic A-level essay it’s probably not going to do well now that I need substantiated statements. But essays are now Over, and an weird feeling of relief has settled over me. I’ve actually done some serious work this term, and it feels good.

Awesome final seminar with Rob Thompson today about the causes of WW1. Every single seminar with him (except one on WW1/interwar theorist Basil Liddell Hart, which turned into a debate on Korea of all things) turns into an argument about WW1, so this was a fitting end to a term of great seminars. Next term: Gary Sheffield, premier UK military historian.

Tonight: Worsoc social at The Old Contemptibles, apparently to be attended by a number of our academics, including Rob. This was the draw; if it were just war nerds in a pub in town, I probably wouldn’t bother to come.

Expenditures for last week: £35.06


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