Helen tagged me for a meme last week, and I intended to do it straight away, but walking across a stage in fancy dress and shaking the hand of a distinguished academic took far more time than I expected, and then I had to plunge straight back into work, and a week with enough meetings and deadlines for a month. Mum has already written up the graduation, I shall get on with the Five Random Things.
1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
Early June 1998. I was 19, and in the midst of exams at the end of my first year of university. I had a week between my first and second exams, and whilst having lunch with friends after the first exam the conversation turned to summer plans. People were going off all round the world having fun, but I already knew that I would be working in the local motorway service station all summer, in order to eat and buy books the next year (I got a full grant, I took out the full Student Loan, but that still left me with a choice between food and my reading list once the rent was paid). Somebody was going to Cornwall, and I found myself boiling with resentment. Cornwall was my place, and how dare they go in a year when I couldn't. And then I had a mad idea, mumbled some apologies, and fled in search of a phone and a suitcase.
Two hours later I was on the intercity train heading for Penzance, where Granny and Granddad would meet me. I did more revision than I would ever have managed n Halls, because going to bed at 10 every night enabled me to wake at six in the morning and do an hour's concentrated work before breakfast. Most days I managed another hour or so as a bonus. I ate better than I would have in Halls (I would lose half a stone every term in my first year because the food was so vile). And the weather was glorious. I had never seen west Cornwall in early summer before, only in August, when most of the flowers are over. There was only one foggy day, the last day, when we drove down to Cape Cornwall from the 'wrong' side, wondering if we would see it at all, until it loomed, like a great whale.
I never again arrived quite so precipitously, but I went back several times during my Exeter years, and it was on these solo trips that I got to know my grandmother as a person. A very special person.
2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today?
Do meme (doing).
Knit 10 repeats of scarf, weigh, get out calculator, furrow brow (I have no intention of running out of yarn again) (knitted but not weighed yet).
Water tomatoes (not done, but it's been raining for days, I doubt they need it, especially as they are out of their pots and in the ground).
Draft Documents X and Y for client Z. I don't usually bring work home, but on Friday afternoon the builders decided to start drilling and hammering and grinding the window frames of my office, and I had started the day with a headache anyway, so I gathered up my files and left, with my manager's blessing (not done yet, but they could equally well be done tomorrow. So long as they are completed before Monday morning).
Make lasagne for tea (waiting for Chris to come home with a small tin of tomatoes with that one).
3. What snacks do I enjoy?
Olives. More olives. Onion bhajis. Kettle Chips (especially the cracked black peppercorn ones). Garlic bread. Olives. (I like cakes and chocolates, but I can live without them. I have far more of a savoury tooth than a sweet one).
4. Where are some places I've lived?
Much as I might try to conceal it, I'm technically a Surrey Girl. I was born in Guildford and started my childhood near Cranleigh (in one of the lodges, I might add). We lived in Hampshire for six years, then returned to Surrey in 1989, to Oxted, where my parents still live (albeit in a different house).
Since I've had some choice in the matter, I've lived in Exeter (three years of university), Bradford (a gap year after university) and Norfolk, where I still am. In the past six years I've only had two addresses, which feels slightly wrong. Six years ago, I had had nine addresses in the previous six years. I'm quite good at packing.
5. What things would I do if I were a billionaire?
Let us assume Bill Gates levels of billionaireishness.
Fund a scholarship for people in their twenties and thirties who have only just worked out what they want to do, but find the funding drying up because they should have been more decisive a few years ago.
Apply to Cambridge again, to read Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic this time.
Learn to ride horses and sail boats.
Take a train trip all the way across Canada.
Build a library in every town that is full of books, not computers, that has single copies of unfashionable and out of print authors rather than ten or twenty copies of the latest paperback, which Tesco have for a couple of quid anyway.
Fund knitting lessons in schools.
Whom should I tag? Let us keep nepotism in the family, and start with my new sister-in-law Kendra, because I'd like to know her better, and my mother, because I may think that I know what she'll say, but I'd like to be proved wrong. Other people I'd like to know a little more about are Mooncalf, Natalie and Knititch. The 'rules' are answer the five questions, then tag five more people by leaving comments on their blogs. Break them if you want (which is heresy for a legal bod, but I'm a heretic in so many ways).