The Role of Marriage

Reader, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I’ve recently returned to Sheffield to complete my undergraduate degree. I’m in my fourth year of Russian, Czech and Polish and – yes – it’s as fun as it sounds.

As a consequence of having taken a little two year study break, I have completely forgotten all the soft-skills a student needs for academic success. I can barely hold a pen, let alone adequately cite my sources. This noble motivation was what led me to open the dusty folder on my Google Drive enigmatically labelled “thinking shit” and scan through my two-year-old lecture notes.

The following is an unabridged copy of the contents of a document called “06/03/17 the role of marriage” and is the result of a two-hour literature lecture that I fully enjoyed – clearly.

I am not responsible for the parts that don’t make sense. What the hell does being flung like a booty call mean? I don’t know, and I don’t know if the Ro that wrote this knew either.


The role of marriage

Marriage is a lame duck intended to hide us underwing and underfoot and understood. Right, he said, holding his property firmly by its left wrist, but marriage is the cornerstone of that which dearest we hold – society.

I turned left and gazed glassily at the squiggles on the board – leftovers from another lecture. Barbara Holzer, it said, and below it was scrawled an oldfashioned map of something colonial. The room was taller than it was wide and the windowsill was too high; when I craned my neck, I could only just catch a glimpse of blue; through it was zooming a plane, crowded, no doubt, with tiny cans of coke and life jackets.

My own son would be born here, under the university desks. Entire generations of my family would live and die in this very room, lulled by the soporific musings of a doctor (pHd) who peaked in a stuffy university lulled by the soporific musings of a professor, and who has spent his years here trying to replicate things that weren’t real even when he first experienced them.

No, I chided myself. There is no such thing as real and unreal experiences. What is is. So I think to myself now, snuggled and cosy in my too big jumper knitted by unseen needles, reality is for made-up people.

Emma has chosen her question poorly; Sam already presented on it, and he did extremely well. As far as I know, and I do know a fair few kilometres, he got a first, and indeed a good first. That said, she seems at ease and confident. 45 per cent of success in presenting is stopping anyone from hearing your voice shake. The ancient inuits had an interesting technique: they would spend four hours singing vibrato to shake the shake from their vocal chords – a far less barbaric technique than that of the Turniply Burnipers, who surgically removed their larynxes, ironed them, stuck them back in with a dab of honey. These days, people don’t go to such lengths. At most they might take a shot of strong spirit before speaking; however, most people simply trust the fates to steady their voice and guide their thesis.

Wow,

she said, loudly.

An amourous sigh shook the room – far from enamoured, I was thrown sideways. I landed badly in a heap of snuggly jumper and refill pad – my entire being had been flung like a booty call.

Failure is as failure does, I mumbled through bloody lips, blinded by dust, deafened by nonsense, all but muted by my rapidly swelling tongue. I added, enigmatically,  “I have seen the best minds of my generation muted by madness; howling, crimson, naked.” The stolen words were sour in my memory; they had expired, were long past their sell-by date. Hyphens tore at my clothes. A swan smelled moving water. Rain ate rooftiles and spat out umbrellas like so many bats struck down midflight.

I recalled something, then forgot it like a dream running out of my ear.

I recalled Camus living how he could in a malheureux pays. I chose to invert the word order and not to italicise to avoid any suspicion of pretension; or, in the original French soupcon de pretension.

I grow old, I grow old, I wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.

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