Monthly Archives: February 2014

Successful Students Living the Life

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This week, I went up to Warwick and Sheffield, to both of the universities there, neither of which I’ve applied to or have any intention of going to. I did however get a slight taste for university life.

On Saturday, I was up in Warwick seeing friends in Unibrass. Now, for those of you not up with the competitive brass band lingo, this is a day on which fourteen university brass bands compete for the win, much like battle of the bands (with slightly fewer people I’d imagine). So, Sheffield kicked of the show with a fantastic debut performance considering the band was only formed four moths ago and was also one of of the key bands I was supporting. As the day progressed, there were some truly great performances and talented musicians, including an incredible performance of ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ on the xylophone, blindfolded, and clearly it was the place to be, as one of the diligent students demonstrated. It turns out, as one of the keen competitors was all ready to go at six a.m., instrument in hand in his student flat, his door handle fell off. However, not wanting to miss out on Unibrass, he did the only sensible thing and tied his trombone to a bed sheet and lowered it out of his first floor window before following it down by climbing out the window and down the drainpipe.

Then the moment we had all been waiting for – the results. It seems all the universities were keen for a bit of banding banter, I never knew brass banders were so rowdy. The comment “good job it was a brass competition not a singing one” was raised as chants of “Wa-les, Wa-les” (from Bangor and Cardiff) were greeted with chants of “York-shire, York-shire” (from Huddersfield and York). This was often interspersed with renditions of “Oh when the Saints” from Southampton while Bangor and Cardiff were still going strong, well, that was until the rest of the hall burst into the English National Anthem and they were slightly outnumbered. It was all then topped off with an aptly grand rendition of “The Grand Old Duke of York” from York along with a few other (slightly random) classics from around the hall such as “Bread of Heaven” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”. This went on for just over half an hour and I don’t think I’ve ever heard such enthusiastic cheering or heckling dependent on the success of a Mexican wave.

Unfortunately I had to leave before the results were actually announced in order to get my bus on time. although for those of you interested, of the bands I was supporting, York came 3rd, Sheffield 6th and Durham 7th with York winning most entertaining band, Sheffield winning best solo and Durham winning most improved/best original composition or arrangement. I then had to get four trains – two of which were unplanned due to a ‘suspected incident’ and a delay on the line from the train in front (to which someone helpfully yelled out “well overtake it then!”- meaning instead of getting in at the intended time of half past ten, I arrived in true student style, rolling in for a home-cooked dinner in the early hours. After a very good catching up with a very good friend, I experienced lovely student accommodation  with lovely people before going out in the big world and exploring the city the next day. We then went all out and went climbing in the afternoon which was very exciting (although I wasn’t very good) and then had the full Church experience at a fantastic and friendly church in the evening including a free meal of jacket potatoes (with many ending up being chucked across the room at each other for those poor students to reheat for consumption later in the week) and a good old trip to the pub. It is always a bit awkward though when you see your friend’s identical twin brother for the first time and you have to keep reminding yourself that he has absolutely no idea who you are when you keep expecting him to come and say hello. Anyway, after pretty much going to bed in the morning and waking up in the afternoon, I felt like, as far as student life goes, I had learnt the things that open days can’t teach you and only friends can.

An absolutely fantastic weekend (despite the two pre-dawn starts) so thanks and congratulations to everyone who made it so 🙂

Church Marathon

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Three services in one day – I would say that was dedication. So, just why three – most people think one is enough.

Well, as seems to happen all too often in my life, it started with a last minute musical appearance. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was always going to go to the service anyway but things are always made a little more exciting by the prospect of early morning sight-reading. Let’s just hope the organist gets better soon.

Then it was back to my true ancestral roots of Anglicanism in the afternoon. A ‘proper religion’ as it was put to me, not all this wishy-washy stuff I’ve been doing up until now. A true Anglican, although slightly less ‘traditional’, service in which we learnt about that amazing miracle where about five thousand men all gathered together in the desert and only one boy remembered to bring lunch. Or maybe it was another miracle that happened on that day, I can’t remember.

After service number two it was all hands to the pump – pizzas in the oven, fairy lights up, bean bags out, it must be another youth service. Yes, eighty five youth from all around the local area and slightly beyond met together to play games, sing, pray and generally just have fun. Sharing Pizza was like the feeding of the five thousand (the true miracle we were talking about just hours before); it just kept coming before a slight free-for-all in the games (not intentionally violent, I swear). We then turned up the music and after a thorough grilling of the preacher, we had a very entertaining exploration of being salt and light in the world. So what is it to be salt and light in the world? Well, as was said in the service, it’s not about pouring salt in a box, putting a torch in it and putting the lid on, in the same way as it’s not just about doing good deeds in church and shutting the doors to the world outside. It’s about each and every person going out and brightening someones day. It’s about adding a little excitement and flavour to the world just by being in it, taking the best parts of yourself and putting them into action in your life. That’s what I think anyway.

Although three services in one day might seem like quite a lot, it really was a fantastic atmosphere – I recently took my friend to this church who summed it up beautifully; “it seems so full of people that just love God” So,I hope everyone enjoyed it (and my MC-ing didn’t put anyone off) and know that everyone, whether you are a Christian or not, can be light 🙂