Imagine that you live in Southwark. The sunlight filters through the high windows of your room along with the angry growl of Saturday traffic to rouse you from the first full night’s sleep in a week. You grumble at it, squint at the clock, and find that it’s two and a half hours past your alarm. Last night’s plans try to knock the dust from between your ears and finally succeed in reminding you that you have two papers to write and had planned to be at Waterloo by 9am. Well, that option’s out, but it wakes you up. Your mind leaps into overdrive. If you waste no time, you can still shower, do your weekly cleaning, take out the trash, and get all of your work done on schedule. Yes, it can work. Speed is the key. Jaw set, eyes narrowed*,  you leap into action, flinging off the covers and swinging your legs over the side of the bed. At this point you discover that you’ve finally caught the stomach bug that’s been going around. Perhaps the morning is going to go a touch slower than you’d expected.

Well, you only have black tea, but a hot shower is always a favorite for feeling better. You point your playlist to the juncture of Queen, Shanadoo, Tarkan and turn the hot water knob all the way up, lip-syncing “I’m a man with a one track mind, so much to do in one lifetime…” and the world seems so much better. By the time you’ve got to the second chorus of King Kong, you don’t feel so bad anymore (the fluffy towel helps), and when Sikidim starts, you’re already whistling and trying to compromise between scrubbing the sink and playing air guitar. You soon discover that the sink is clogged. When did that happen? Your playlist pops up the Bee Gees as you weigh your options. Considering that maintenance still hasn’t come about the window lock, which you requested in the first week of January, that’s not a likely bet. While you were able to unclog the shower drain, and you don’t really mind that the toilet always flushes twice, you’re not quite up for  breaking into the maintenance closet to get at the plumbing. That means being ecologically irresponsible and making a trip to Tesco for Mr. Muscle’s sodium hydroxide gel. Ah, well, it happens to the best of us, and you needed to buy more apples, anyway.

While the scum in the sink ebbs slowly out of sight, your newly finicky stomach reminds you that, while breakfast isn’t on the agenda, tea is, and it sends you to the kitchen. The flat is dead silent, and when you open the kitchen door, you’re struck by two things: the smell of sour milk, and a green sheet of paper on the table. The smell seems to be coming from the recycling that, for the fourth week running, your flatmates haven’t taken out. Someone’s also spilled something sticky on the floor that you’d just mopped, and there’s a dusting of bread crumbs and sugar across the counter. Humming Pense à Moi, you mop again and wipe off enough of the counter to make tea. They had the cleaning rota worked out before you even moved in, so it’s curious how studiously your flatmates ignore it. The green slip is a failed kitchen inspection notice. Not surprising, really.  Anyway, tea is good.

It’s a gorgeous day, which is appreciable even if you have to spend it glued to a computer. That’s been almost every day, recently, but it was a lovely change looking out of the library window and seeing a daffodil on Thursday, and the old Marshalsea Prison yard is always a lovely stop on the way home, especially now that the apples and cherries are blooming. Between winter and studying, you’re as pale as Dracula, but maybe that will change if you do your reading on the window ledge. Well, actually you remember that there’s no wireless here and most of your work right now uses PubMed, but you open the window nevertheless. With a little help from Carrapicho, it’s almost the same. Even when you’re denied access for an article on Science Direct, you only gripe a little before remembering that it’s much too nice out for that. After all, during paper season, what more can you ask?


*in determination, of course, and maybe a little bit against the light.