I'm back up north, that magical place where you don't need a mortgage just to buy a round of drinks. Lou and Ting have very kindly offered me their sofa until I'm recalled by Rothamsted or until Ting chucks me out for eating all his crisps, and I was delighted to discover that their flat is in a creepy Gothic mansion. Pictures will follow when there's some light to take them by.
I keep expecting Christopher Lee to jump out from behind the shower curtain. Thus far though the most disturbing thing I have discovered was a tin of Spam Lite in the kitchen cupboard - truly you never really know someone until you've lived with them.
I attempted to register today, a process complicated somewhat by the fact that I do not currently possess a passport as it is being renewed (or more likely used as a cup rest by someone in the bowels of the passport office). Credit cards, travel cards, and youtube evidence of me affixing a plastic cape to someone and encouraging him to dive into a pile of cardboard boxes are apparently not sufficient proof of identity. Apparently it is not possible to register as a student without some a passport or birth certificate , although heaven knows why someone would want to impersonate me for the privilege of working with filth flies for three years. However I suppose the policy does have some merits, as if instituted worldwide it would prevent people like George Bush from attending university.
I was at least able to convince the appropriate people of my existence, even if the university systems refuse to acknowledge it. This and the fact that I left the biology department with considerably more paper than I entered it with have encouraged me to view the day as a success. Tomorrow will be spent meeting a man who will tell me that ethidium bromide does not make a good novelty cocktail additive, and will then sign a piece of paper to confirm he has done so.
Durham appears pretty much unchanged, although Waitrose has closed down (it's grim up north) and it has sprouted a bead shop and an Oxfam book shop, both of which are likely to lead to considerable attrition of my grant. The God Squad is still out in force; I was collared by a pair of them on the way out of the biology department which I felt was a little unfair as I'd just negotiated a horde of people proffering leaflets with useful information such as when to register as a demonstrator or how to get your thesis bound (surely a little premature?) so it seemed quite logical to take one more. Still I'd imagine the biology department isn't their most fertile recruiting ground so perhaps they felt justified in taking advantage whilst guards were down. I felt rather miffed as taking the time to explain that no, I don't think I'm going to hell thank you very much meant I didn't reach the student union shop before it closed so couldn't get my 20p Guardian. Which was the only reason I signed up to be a student again in the first place.