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Random thoughts

In lieu of a proper post, some observations.

Signs of Spring on Campus

  • The campus is full of first-year geographers with theodolites (regular as clockwork, Thursdays in the second half of February every year). The area between the Staff Club, the Law building and the stream must be the most-surveyed part of Southampton (no mean feat, considering we're the home of the Ordnance Survey).
  • Students' Union elections are upon us. Again. I amuse myself by playing spot-the-crypto-Nu-Labourite, and seeing if they're at all distinguishable from the crypto-Young Tories. Sadly, the candidates are what you'd expect from a generation that were born under Thatcher, spent their childhood under Major, and their adolescence under Blair. MOREOVER, I HAVE NOT BEEN MISTAKEN FOR A STUDENT (not even a postgrad). V. disappointed.
  • The plaza outside the Students' Union is full of stands from the Big Four, with bright young things debasing themselves in order to lure in the gullible. Join KPMGPriceWaterHouseCoopersDeloitteToucheErnst&Young as a fresh graduate, travel the country, and dress like an eejit in a futile attempt to convince people that Accountancy Isn't Dull. Worst job seen in 2007-2008: the lad that spent all lunchhour with his head, arms and torso stuffed into a medium-sized suitcase (his legs were free so that he could walk around). I bet he wasn't told that the graduate recruit programme involved partial asphyxiation. Still, if you don't play the game, you won't make your way in management.
  • The deadline for Semester 2 exam papers starts looming.

In other news, there has been a regrettable outbreak of Ugg boots. This must stop. I'm sick of seeing undergrads wearing mid-thigh denim skirts, opaque black tights, and the ugliest sheepskin boots known to mankind. What's wrong with DMs? They at least give the foot some support - the Ugg wearers seem to spend all their time shuffling around (I've not yet told them to pick their feet up and walk properly, but that day will certainly soon come), and most of them seem to have feet that pronate so badly that their heels are half-off the boot heels.

Also, what's with the widespread wearing of University-branded clothing. As a student, I wouldn't have been seen *dead* wearing a sweatshirt with "University of Warwick" on it, and that seemed to be the case for most of my contemporaries (club/society clothing being the exception). I'd ask "have they no self-respect", but I don't want to sound like an embittered academic on the slippery slope towards middle age.

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(Deleted comment)
I don't have a problem with down-at-heel boots per se; I have owned boots in dire need of reheeling, mostly while a student. What I object to are formless sheepskin wellies which render the wearer incapable of lifting their feet clear of the ground when they walk. Riding boots are fine by me, as are Doc Martens.

I certainly don't have a problem with short skirts/minidresses, black tights and boots, given that that was what ias wore when we first met.

I do find uni/college hoodies mystifying, though.

As far as I can tell from their advertising, the student union candidates all have the same policy: "I have a name".

On the upside, at least my scowling has reached the level where I can walk across the concourse in a bubble of hassle-free isolation.

You're a student! Can't you explain it?

Are you asking a computer scientist about fashion things?

My criteria for choosing clothes is based on thermal, comfort, and not-getting-arrested properties. This is why I have a whole bunch of identical jumpers.

Hey, in my book that makes you a fashionable computer scientist. Unfashionable computer scientists only have one jumper, and frequently dispense with other social niceties. Such as washing.

You are not on the slippery slope towards middle age, this is because if you are then I definately am - and I'm not... so there :)

I can top your ugg craze...

There is an ugg craze here.

I am in Los Fucking Angeles. The temperature during the day has at NO POINT been less than ten degrees centigrade. There is NO NEED to wear uggs in this weather. For much of the time, there has been no need to wear a *jacket*. Why is every other female I see attempting to melt her feet in a pair of uggs?

And what is it with crocs? They're plastic, and they're ventilated. No use in cold weather, no use in wet weather, no use in hot weather... why are they so popular? What insanity causes people to believe that effectively shoving your feet into plastic bags is good?

I need to do a Top Ten Really Bloody Stupid Footwear Decisions sometime. New Rocks would be on there, uggs, crocs, the multifarious anklebreakers collectively known as heels...

Bring back places that are safe to walk barefoot.

One of these days, I'm going to find a decent pair of comfortable sandals.

Then be trollishly English by wearing them with socks.

You will find that my top ten has no sandals on it.

Let me see. Top 10 footwear nightmares:

1, 2 Uggs and crocs go in there uncontested.
3. The white stiletto. The archetypal Dumb Chav Slut Shoe par excellence, usually worn frayed at the heel with stonewashed jeans. Ick.
4. New Rocks. If you want to look like the statue of the spack kid with the callipers on that you put coins in the head of, go ahead. But I'll mock.
5. Women who wear kitten-heeled mules to work. Now they might be suitable in the boudoir but I don't want to see your scabby heels when I get off the train. Neither to I want to hear the scuffling as you fail to walk properly in them. And they look fucking awful with flares. Be told.
6. Prison-white trainers that are almost cubical in shape.
7. The inexplicable revival of the pixie boot. They were bloody ridiculous in 1982. Time has not improved them.
8. The sequinned ballerina pump, especially after half the sequins have fallen off. Look after the fucking things, OK?
9. Chavvy blokes in slip-ons that seem to go on longer than the pointy slippers in a bad amateur production of Aladdin.
10. Geography Teacher Shoes. Clark's Polyveldts or clones thereof for the guys, *Ugly* clumpy shoes for women (nb, there are many *good* clumpy shoes for women, but the sort I'm thinking of look more like cowpats than footwear).

Bring back places that are safe to walk barefoot.
Well said!

Also, what's with the widespread wearing of University-branded clothing.

Always thought that a very '70s pseudo-American phenomenon, though I found it quite amusing a few years ago seeing some very white, very upper-middle class Little Lord Fauntleroy-type business school fresher at Bradford wearing a Howard University sweatshirt...

undergrads wearing mid-thigh denim skirts, opaque black tights, and the ugliest sheepskin boots known to mankind

Same here in Edinburgh; I haven't seen such uniformity in outfit since, er, I was in uniform.

As for branded clothing, it seems that every single member of any sports team or club is issued with an Edinburgh University fleece and/or hoodie, embroidered with their name. Mind you, when I was at Imperial College the physics undergrads were all very proud of their red sweatshirts with the wave equation; IIRC you had to pass your first year exams to be entitled to wear it.

The general viewpoint at Nottingham in the early 90s was that having a polo shirt (it was always polo shirts) with your name embroidered on it meant you were either a) a member of the union exec, b) a hilariously self-important wanker, or c) both. As a tech crew type I certainly encountered enough of b) (although less c) than you'd expect - union sabbatical folks were generally pretty sound after their first couple of months) at events. You know, the sort of people who HAD to be given an event radio even though they had no use for it other than for wandering around looking important. And who HAD to have all-areas passes, but only so they could hang around backstage or on the PA riser getting in the way. A pox on the b)s of this world, say I.

Oddly, b) was usually synonymous with "member of the ents committee".

heh, I wonder if we overlapped. I was at Notts from 94-97 and those polo-shirted twits were often Karni reps, or rugby players too. Mind you, the people with university scarves were often members of the CU, or sang in a choir and were members of the CU, so possibly it was all just tribal!

Same here in Edinburgh; I haven't seen such uniformity in outfit since, er, I was in uniform.

Now that is interesting. I moved from Edinburgh to Southampton in 1997, and Southampton was noticeably more uniform than Edinburgh. It could be that this is a feature of a temporal rather than geographical demographic.

Re: Uggs, I'm with you. It could be worse though - it could be bare legs that look like corned beef because of chafing by the winter winds ;)

In Oxford (and, I guess, Cambridge too) wearing an "OXFORD UNIVERSITY" hoodie/sweatshirt/etc is pretty much equivalent to wearing one saying I AM A TOURIST, particularly if it's in a big blocky American college typeface. Especially because the place is called the University of Oxford. College or society schwag, sure, but not the place as a whole. Of course, if you forget to pick any up during your visit you can buy "Oxford University" t-shirts at Heathrow, along with "Mind the Gap" stuff and teddy bears in guardsman's outfits. That said, very rarely you'll find "OXFORD UNIVERSITY" also meaning "NAIVE FRESHER".

I do have an Oxford University Cycling Club jersey, but that's because I'm a member. Being a university spouse isn't bad - you don't have to go to any lectures but they'll still give you associate membership of the college so you can drink in cheap student bars, and you can generally talk societies into letting you join.

But it has been ever thus! The uniform changes slightly but there always is one; the herd instinct is strong in undergrads.

The undergraduate herding instinct helps with not treating them like individuals, which then disperses any inconvienent ethical concerns regarding the marking-by-D20 process.

In Southampton undergrads, perhaps. There's a degree of uniformity amongst Southampton's undergraduates that I haven't seen elsewhere. I didn't see it when I was at Edinburgh (1996-1997), and I didn't see it when I was at Warwick (1991-1994). I saw a touch of it when I lived in Bath (1997-2003), but during that time I was also working at Southampton, so I had the opportunity to make some comparison.

The Southampton fashion (such as is) hasn't always been the same, but there's been a distinct uniform look. In 1998ish, the trend was for tight white or cream ribbed sweaters with padded bodywarmer gilets. It was possible to drink a cup of tea in the coffee bar and see half a dozen students dressed thusly in the time it took to drink the tea.

What Southampton doesn't have are any of the subcultures that the other universities I've been at have had. There aren't the folkies, the rock chicks, the grungers. There are precious few goths (along with cockroaches, the only species that will survive a nuclear war), and usually a token dread-wearing crustie (in 1998-1999, she was a Ned's Atomic Dustbin fan). You rarely see short-haired women, for that matter.

This could of course be because Southampton is a nice southern English university full of nice southern English students (as ias put it) - student demographics probably have a lot to do with it.

So Soton is a very rah place. Useful to know.

When I was applying for university places back in 1990, I'd whittled my non-Cambridge choices down to Warwick or Southampton. The deciding factor were the student testimonials published in (I think) the Torygraph. The two quotes about Southampton were (with a little paraphrasing):

"The worst thing about Southampton is that I sometimes worry that I'm not doing enough work because my social life is so good."


"Southampton is dead at the weekend because everyone comes from the home counties, and they all go home to see their parents at the weekend."

I chose Warwick, and have never looked back.

Dear God, are they all called Arabella? All studying Geography and hoping to marry a merchant banker and have two small breakdowns, three caesereans and a fling with a Filipino masseur?

I refer the honourable gentleman to my earlier post.

I bought some University of Warwick branded clothes last year - but it was freezing cold and they were the only scarves and hats that I could find to buy on campus! I did find the oxfam shop to get some gloves from in the end though, as there were no branded gloves.

I've been wearing the same hoodie sweatshirt emblazoned with my school's name for the past three days, because I've been taking final exams for the quarter. (To tell the shameful truth, I've been wearing the same jeans and t-shirt underneath, too, but at least I've been changing my underwear.) What can I say? It was free -- they gave one to each student when we enrolled.

I mean, I'm a complete tool to serve my school by advertising it. But it's been cold! And a hoodie doesn't mess up my hair as badly as a hat would.

Over here I don't think anyone thinks twice about wearing University-branded clothing, even if it's not your own school. What pathetic, in my opinion, is wearing a something that advertises some clothing brand in the style of an old college sweatshirt. "GAP Est. 1969" or "Abercrombie & Fitch" or "Nike" -- congratulations, you've paid 50 bucks for the privilege of promoting a multinational brand. How cool!

I know that things are different in the US, but I'm surprised at how much things have changed in the UK over the last decade. I can sort of see the reason for wearing a uni hoodie for your own place (tribal identification, mainly; I'm discounting practical reasons such as "it's cold", "the SU shop doesn't sell anything else", "wash day today"), but wearing University-branded clothing for institutions other than your own completely baffles me, much as do the faux-vintage, artfully distressed t-shirts beloved of lower-league hipsters, which ironically advertise athletics clubs from a continent and two decades away.

I have a similar attitude towards branded clothing in general, so I'm right with you on the matter of Nike, GAP, etc.

It's almost a winter uniform for blue-collar workers here: hoodie sweatshirt, baseball cap or knit cap underneath, hard hat on top, and a heavy black parka or Carhartt overalls. I'm about 40% male, it seems, so that's kinda my winter uniform as well.

Only my parka is a suburban soccer-mom deal that my own mom handed down to me this year. :)

I should totally send the garklet a jersey from the local American Armoured Wankerball (I believe that's the term) team, the Eagles. The cool thing lately, as you've seen, is to wear uniforms from the '70s, especially if the team changed names or cities.

I don't think that we've had a frost harder than about -5C since I've lived in Southampton (slightly over ten years), so Carhartts are understandably scarce.

I don't follow American football enough to be sure which teams have moved cities; I thought that the Packers had, but Wikipedia says that they're one of the few which haven't.

Then again, I don't follow soccer either. This hasn't stopped the garklet from picking up a Northern Ireland football strip from his grandfather (ias's dad), who's a staunch Manchester United supporter, and the treasurer of the Milk Cup (NI-based international youth football tournament) since the early 1980s.

The two football team moves that come to mind are the Oakland Raiders, who spent much of the 1980s and early 1990s in Los Angeles, and the Indianapolis Colts, who famously absconded from Baltimore in the middle of the night in 1984. (Then the Cleveland Browns team moved to Baltimore in the mid-1990s, but there was an agreement for the name to stay in Cleveland. So the "Baltimore Browns" became a "new" team named the Baltimore Ravens, made up of Cleveland Browns players, and Cleveland went a few years before getting another team of Browns. Whose helmets are and always have been plain, undecorated orange.)

If I remember correctly, the current Oakland A's baseball team is actually the old Philadelphia Athletics, an organization going back to the 1870s or so. Probably the most well-known baseball team move would be the Brooklyn-now-L.A. Dodgers.

Do soccer/football teams move around at all?

There aren't many teams that have moved; there have been a few minor movements in the Scottish league, but the English league teams have largely stayed put during the last 70-odd years. The notable exception are the Milton Keynes Dons, formerly Wimbledon FC, who moved from south-west London to a new town between London and Birmingham (about sixty miles away) in 2002.

There have been some minor moves in the English league. In 2006, Arsenal moved from their old ground in Highbury to a new ground in Holloway, but these are adjacent districts of north London (certainly closer than moving from Brooklyn to Queens, for example); the Wimbledon move remains the most controversial move in the post-war history of the league.

there has been a regrettable outbreak of Ugg boots

There has been a similar outbreak at Nottingham. The shuffly walk is very irritating.

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