friendship time, come on grab your friends/we’ll have a fight and then make amends

Year three; the home straight, the beginning of the end. I start as I mean to go on, and I mean to go on damn well.

Address to all the history freshers went just fine. So did War Studies stall; so did the L4NL pre-term bollocking planning (and, reportedly, the turnout at the first meeting, though I missed it). In fact, everything is pretty swish at the moment. Went to Zoe’s birthday party and reconnected with some BGS chaps that I’d never really known before but am jolly glad I connected with; when I went to the Shackleton pub quiz with Mike Howie, it was almost exactly a repeat of the same trip with Block 12 two years ago (which is to say, not great, but the company made up for it.)

As in second year, I have gone straight for the modules I know the least about; I find I learn much better when arriving without preconceptions or prior knowledge, as it’s all learning, and learning is FUN. So: my 20cr, essay-and-exam option is “Seapower from the Armada to Overlord” which is something I know pleasingly little about, with the new and seemingly very good War Studies tutor who has won early infamy and many exclamations of “lad!” by (reportedly) telling a student “send my regards to your mother” when their phone went off.

Along with that is the 40cr special subject (really two modules masquerading as one): “The British Army and the Defeat of Napoleon”, which is something I know basically nothing about, and is half to be handled by Dr Snape and half by my first year Jacobite tutor. It’s half exam, and half open paper, both of which I am entirely confident about. It sounds fun – really genuinely interesting stuff, and I’ve heard from people I trust that Napoleonic is a great period. The final module is “Writing the History of War,” a new, militarised version of third year Historical Reflections; just from the name I feared it might be a dud module, but it also looks fun. I’m to present for one of the early seminars and aim to make an argument about heroic warfare in ancient Greece; early topics include Homer and the Bible, which is all a bit English Lit but is a pleasant break from seapower (rivet-counting!)

Finally, my dissertation, which is… “hmm” is probably how I’m thinking about it. I have been assigned a replacement tutor; I sent him a state of play email today which included the admission “basically, this is a gunwank dissertation”, and now I really, really hope I haven’t misjudged his sense of humour. It will be done, and when it is done it will be good, but I fear it’ll be more of an uphill struggle than the rest.

Mason is quiet and civilised, basking in this late summer. The only cloud has been a mob of paintball scammers who almost foxed my flatmate Ruchi out of £60, and I’ve heard of various other attempts to scam Masonites (who are, let’s face it, the most obvious target for the doorstep short con for miles around) out of daddy’s money; we got an extremely long and poorly worded email from accommodation services warning us not to buy discounted hi-fi equipment from blokes in white vans. For real.

Olly and Lizzie came round for dinner, and to pick up the various things he’d left in the car at Leamington; the walk back along the dark towpath was more than a little surreal. (“Are there any muggers? What do we have that they want?” “A solid brick of iron, a 22″ monitor, a bag of clothes hangers and five smartphones.”)

It’s fun being a third year; it’s a bit like the last year of school, only more so – there’s this great sense of familiarity with the tutors and each other, and the camaraderie among warbros at this point is a palpable thing. (“And if you all write down your SRNs, I’ll have you signed up to a resources site on WebCT-” “We’ll believe it when we see it, sir.”) Snape told us all at the start of Historical Reflections that, after two years, War Studies had yet to produce a First. And that he’d be really chuffed if this year one or two of us managed it. Significant glances at myself and the seat where Louis Reynolds ought to have been. The game’s afoot.

I begin third year enthused and confident, head held high.

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