“With a little help from my friends…….”

A misty morningThe days are getting shorter here in the Midlands. And somehow it feels like the nights are getting darker too. Summer is gone and buried…. that much is clear now. And it has taken the light with it. There is this eerie silence in the village as I stare out the window. Clouds have descended on the green and it is hard to make out any shapes through the mist. The one tree I can still discern looks like a mere shadow of its former self. Winter is coming. The damp and cold are sneaking their way in and taking hold. I decide to turn on the heating but still can’t shake the sensation of impending doom and ‘all the happiness’ being drained out of me……

Hang on! That sounds suspiciously familiar. I am getting carried away, it seems, by my current module ‘The Novel’, as I sit a comfortable chair reading up on its history and narrative technique.

So I try to produce my own Patronus charm (a more elaborate version involving a walk up to the stage on graduation in designer high heels without tripping over the gown happy thought and the patronus taking the shape of a scroll with my name on it) as I walk down the stairs to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. There is something to be said for this English tradition.

Study materialsThen, despite the fact that I prefer complete silence during study, I decide to listen to some music to lighten the mood. Joe Cocker sounds about right: With a little help from my friends. I love his version of the old Beatles song. A thought that somehow leads me to Roland Barthes’s Death of the Author, the notion that there is no such thing as true authorship or original thought and back to the assessment criteria and the need to come up with some original approach.

It is clear I need a break. While my tea cools down to a temperature that allows me to drink it without needing medical assistance afterwards, I jump on the BA English VLE to read up on my fellow students. As a distance learning student it is always comforting to know that you are not the only Sisyphus slaving away at what seems like an unending task of reading, analysing and re-reading. More importantly, that dream you had last night, you know, the one aboutbeing chased by monster books with menacing teeth and trying to catch your breath while laced up like Beatrice. Turns out it was just that ‘much ado’….’about nothing’. You are not going crazy. Our brain has a funny way of dealing with the deluge of new information.

I always try to respond to some questions I have already worked through, but today my goal is to find a study buddy for the topics I am dealing with. From earlier experiences I know there is always at least one other person on the course that is working on the same texts and/or theory. On days like this when the mind has a will of its own, it is great to connect with others, debate interesting issues and let’s face it…. commiserate. Some days we work hard, some days we hang out. We talk about studying, getting organised, how to source books on the cheap, the kids, husbands or the lack thereof, you name it. All the while building friendships that just like in the ‘real world’ can last a lifetime. We humans are not made to be alone. Like the texts we are studying we need other ‘texts’ to create meaning, to ‘make sense’ of it all. So I leave a message for one of my regular study buddies to confirm our next meetup.

It looks like I will get by…. with a little help from my friends.

Friends

Silvy is studying the BA English in the United Kingdom.

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