Michaelmas 2011: What We Have Learned


As another of Oxford’s terms slides slowly into oblivion, let us take a moment to sit back, gather our fragmented thoughts, and reflect on the nuggets of wisdom which can be prised from the sinking ship of Michaelmas. Eight weeks of studentdom. What have we actually learned?

1. The Fabled Art of Kettle Pasta

Oxford has many things. Medieval colleges, expert tutors and vast libraries. What it does not have is enough cookers for its students. This is not only a culinary catastrophe but an act of blatant discrimination against Pastafarians. But no longer. Anyone with a kettle can have access to this most delicious of delicacies. Some skill is required to master the ancient art of kettle pasta. It will not do to boil the water, pour it into a large bowl, and then add pasta. Equally, filling your sink with the pasta and maintaining a kettle and hot tap barrage will fail to soften the food sufficiently.
Instead, place the pasta inside the kettle, add water (leaving space for the inevitable froth) and boil to perfection. Moreover, you can then recycle the leftover water, perhaps using it for a cup of tea or washing yourself with it. Simples.

2. Vanquishing the Michaelmas Fly

Of all the distractions from working, there is none more irritating, more persistent and more potent than the Michaelmas fly (Musca michaelmasa). A hardy breed to have survived into the winter, it is small, deceptively slow and almost invulnerable. Resembling a cross between a spot of ink and an Apache gunship, this is not a rolled-up newspaper job. Instead, a lengthy duel between man and beast must ensue. The weapon of choice? The deodorant aerosol. Repeated blasts will choke the monster, forcing it to land. Now the victory is complete, your worthy foe deserves a swift and dignified end. Only then may the work continue.

3. Besting Fifth Week Blues

Simple solution: Purchase alcohol, consume it. Repeat hourly until all melancholy has disappeared.  

4. Practical Functions of a Traffic Cone

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a night out is not complete without the casual larceny of road safety equipment from Oxford City Council. Having pilfered the item, slipped it past the porter and probably caused several traffic accidents the next day, what next?
The traffic cone might be an endearing shade of orange and a glowing testament to your rampant masculinity, but has it any practical use? Of course! There is no finer hat stand. Stable, robust, and conveniently-sized to allow swift headgear donning, the traffic cone is so much more than a fashion must-have. It’s a lifestyle necessity.

With these vital skills under our belts, it is clear that Michaelmas has been a productive term. Who knows what invaluable knowledge Hilary might bring?

James McKean



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