Torpids Madness

torpids9 torpids2

Eat. Sleep. Row. Repeat. Add in a ‘Frantically scratch out 3 sub-par essays’, ‘Attend most classes’ and ‘Flout the tacit drinking ban because omg another Guest Dinner‘ and you’ve got a fair account of my week. Or maybe the worst Nike slogan tee ever.

It was the infamous and ironically-named Torpids week here in Oxford; the big intercollege regatta of Hilary Term. A few weeks ago, after a season of apathy, I got swept up in the excitement of it all and became a total gym/river rat. Like a slow-blossoming, normal-coloured and even-tempered Hulk (ok, bad analogy) I’ve gotten fitter and stronger than ever before in my life. Almost Madonna arms, you guys. Still, I couldn’t match the fervency of some of my crew. After ‘rowing on’ the Friday prior (time trialling to qualify for Torpids), there was this slightly awkward interaction:

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Winter Wake-up


I hate to be a typical Aussie, bellyaching about the UK cold (well, not really…because even though it’s something I have zero control over, I find bitching about the weather sort of cathartic. Much like art therapy or dream journaling…) but Oxford is freezing at the moment. There’s nothing quite like waking up before the sun, scooping last night’s mascara out of your eyes, and seeing that mockingly cute snowflake icon and ‘sleet showers’ on your iPhone’s weather app.

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What I’m Currently…



Kaliko coat

After a week of dispiriting, haiku-inspiring coat browsing, I bought this No-Nonsense number on the recommendation of Deena the Debenhams saleslady. I was a bit apprehensive about taking fashion advice from her (her eyelids were patinated with pink and yellow glitter like exotic metal butterflies, and her ample bosom was exploding out of the most alarming leopard-print dress I’d ever seen…) but you can’t really go wrong with plain black wool, right?

My rule of thumb for buying a Classic Coat: would Meg Ryan have been able to wear it in Kate & Leopold? If it would work in both modern day New York and 1876 (and isn’t so ugly that it would repel Hugh Jackman), it’s a keeper.

Deena’s advice for avoiding coat theft (she was super sympathetic to my plight): buy a thin bike lock to chain up your coat at parties. If your friends are particularly sticky-fingered, set live mousetraps in the pockets. Good one Deena!


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That Rowing Smugness #boatgloat

I’m officially a ‘Rower’ y’all! I have done exactly 1 water session, but bought all the merch so there’s no turning back. From what I hear, it’s a small step from wide-eyed, skittery novice excitement to smug-faced insufferability. Be prepared for me to wax lyrical about erg times, ‘casually’ mention my 5.30am starts in a holier-than-thou martyr voice, and just become Better at Life (I might even become a double threat and launch a social-networking lawsuit/start hoarding the world’s digital money).

But for now, I’ll just get excited about my splash jacket. Cute, right??


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Rowing, and an embarrassing (but educational) anecdote

I’ve attended the welcome BBQ. I’ve had a tank session. I’ve passed the swim test (with only minor flashbacks to Mrs Wennberg’s traumatising Year 7 life-saving classes where I’d thrash about trying to save a baby (i.e. brick with a smiley face) from the pool floor, fully-clad in winter tracksuit…)

Guys, I’m going to be a (novice) rower! I only hope that actually participating in the sport goes better for me than my history as a spectator…

Here’s a little essay I wrote about my last brush with rowing: Sydney, 2009

They say the proof is in the pudding. In my case, it was 80 proof, and I’d just vomited the pudding all over my feet.

Week 2 of college and I was a newly-minted Fresher, keen to escape the quiet, line-toeing nerd image I had at high school, and desperate to make friends. What better way to do this than complaisantly downing drinks on a coach ride to the annual Intercollege Rowing Regatta?

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