Startling Realisation

Filed in Personal

To me, you’re the one.

To you, I’m just one of many.

Actually, it’s not so startling. I’ve just refused to see it all this while.

Two cool guys

Filed in Pictures

Cool guy #1 – Dooku

Cool guys #2 – Kaizer

Thanks, guys, for being so sporting and draping on Val’s pink cardigan.

  • Please excuse the “off” lighting (altho I thought it added to the atmosphere), I was in a hurry to capture the “moments” and forgot to check the camera settings
  • The #1 and #2 are only in the order the pictures were taken, and in no way reflect the “popularity” of the two fellows

Fun in Film Studies

Filed in Memories

Imagine spending Wednesday afternoons in the main lecture theatre, watching American film classics as part of the course work, and jotting down notes in the dark to refer to later.

The first time I did that, I found I’d written all over the page and could hardly make out what I’d written. After looking at various lighting possibilities, I eventually settled for a mini flip torch that switched on when the lid was, er, flipped up. This meant I didn’t have to keep the light on throughout a film screening (which would’ve disturbed my coursemates’ concentration) but only when I needed to jot down some notes. So, instead of a constant mini light source where I was seated (I seriously didn’t need that kind of attention), there was an intermittent on/off light whenever I attended a film screening. *grin* Looking back, I really enjoyed this – both the film watching and the note taking.

That was basically what the Film Studies Department was all about – watching movies, learning what made up a good movie, why Hollywood was so hugely successful, and the difference between “cinema”, “film” and “movie”.


Yes, right in the heart of an English university, we were studying Hollywood film history. Not British film history, not American film history, but specifically Hollywood. The reason behind this may be gleaned from the name of the School that the Film Studies Department was a part of.

School of English & American Studies.

Not 100% English Studies, but what may be seen as half-and-half English and American Studies.

In fact, the School had a very strong American Studies Department with English scholars specialising in American history and American literature. Every year, the Department would also welcome exchange students from the States while sending English students over for a year in an American college or university.

(I’d actually wanted to do my second year in the States, it would be a dream come true for me to study both in England and the States, but was dissuaded from it on the grounds that I was paying for my own studies while English students had their education paid for by their own Local Education Authorities. Thus, spending a year in the States would add another year and extra costs. It was a very persuasive argument so I dropped this plan, and instead started thinking of how I could actually go to study in the States. But that’s material for another post and meanwhile, I am digressing here.)

(to be cont’d … )

Film Studies Department

Filed in Memories

I’d stumbled into the School of English & American Studies’ Film Studies Department by accident.

Towards the end of the second Prelim term, we were told to select a Minor subject to go with our Major. I didn’t really fancy either History or Philosophy, and said no thanks, I’ll just focus on my Major. But no, I was told, I had to declare a Minor.

Besides History and Philosophy, there was a third possibility to do a Minor in. Film Studies. UEA’s School of English & American Studies actually had a Film Studies Department. I had no idea what it entailed and went to check up on the department’s course offerings, and learned that these included studying film history and other stuff related to the cinema.

I can do this, I found myself thinking. After all, I’d spent Saturday nights in the cinema during my childhood – not with friends, but with my family, my parents having taken us to see movies as a refuge from the communal home shared with my father’s brothers and families – so that should qualify me to declare Film Studies as my Minor.

But I wasn’t automatically accepted into the Film Studies Department. Since I was a latecomer to it, not having indicated Film Studies on my application form, I was asked to submit a film review of any movie. That evening after receiving the assignment, I went down to Lecture Theatre 1 (turned campus cinema on Wednesday evenings and during weekends) and watched The Jewel of the Nile to write the film review on. Shortly after submitting the assignment, I was told I’d been accepted to do a Minor in Film Studies.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it was going to be one of the best and most enjoyable times of my three years at UEA.

(to be cont’d … )

Creative Writing School

Filed in Memories

It turned out the Creative Writing School has, over the years, nurtured some of the best-known published writers that include Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro. What do you expect of a school that was led by the late Malcolm Bradbury, and later by poet laureate Andrew Motion?

I have a favourite story about the Creative Writing School. It’s the one about the book prize, the teacher and his student.

In 1986, both Malcolm Bradbury and Kazuo Ishiguro had been shortlisted for the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. Ishiguro had been Bradbury’s student at UEA’s Creative Writing School. In the end, student pipped teacher to win the award. The novel? An Artist of the Floating World. Ishiguro went on to write The Remains of the Day which was made into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

I never bumped into Ishiguro on campus during my three years there but I did see the late Angela Carter giving an open-air tutorial to a small group of students one summer. They were all seated on the grass under a tree on campus.

I also almost rubbed shoulders with Doris Lessing the evening she came to give a talk. It was full house in Lecture Theatre 1 where she was booked to appear and a quick decision had been made to broadcast the talk via television in Lecture Theatre 2 but at the same price as seeing her “live” in LT1. Being the poor student I was then, I decided not to pay to see Lessing on television, but just hung around the LT area. Later, we were in the bookstore when she came in after her talk and I walked close enough to almost rub shoulders with her, and to tell friends about it later.

During my final term at UEA, Toni Morrison, 1993 Nobel Laureate in Literature, came on campus to give a reading of her then latest novel Beloved. Unlike the Doris Lessing lecture, it was free. Having read her book The Bluest Eye as part of one of the Women’s Writing courses, I wouldn’t have missed her reading for anything in the world. It remains one of the most memorable events from my time at UEA.

Note – There are lots of links in this post, which I realise may be the equivalent of name-dropping on my part. I don’t actually know any of the people mentioned here, so this isn’t really name-dropping …

(to be cont’d … )