Instructions for Dancing

Saturday September 3, 2011

miles, miles, miles

Filed under: Uncategorized — by hettyweston @ 11:15 pm

I was talking about personal blogs with someone the other day, and I tried to explain the reason for mine. The most compelling reason I’ve found, which I probably didn’t express well at the time, is that there are lots of little moments in life which are special and significant and merit recording. And that’s determined by the blogger, not the reader – if I’m writing to a reader, it’s not to a real one. The value of this, for me, is that I have my own archive of little moments. It’s public, but really it’s for me.

I think what I said at the time was, I know I’ve changed over the last few years, but I couldn’t say how, because I’ve lost track of every Hetty apart from this one. I probably wasn’t so different a few years ago, but between now and then there are many significant memories – endings and beginnings. First-times of things which now to me are normal. That’s the real distance between me and her.

You can’t often tell what beginnings and endings are significant while they’re happening, but I know that my life recently has had some big ones, and the next two weeks have some more. On Tuesday, I’m moving to London. Monthly rent, matching towels, homegrown vegetables. The Monday after that, I’m starting my first job. I’ll be taking the Tube to work, checking my Blackberry at lunchtime. Probably buying an iron. In a few months’ time, perhaps, the novelty will wear off.

I know that beginnings like these are significant. But something else which I’ll record, in hope, is that I’ve met someone who could be significant too. I know I’ve had this hope before. I also know that my butterflies are partly a corollary of ridiculously bad timing, so that, although we’ve been an us for four and a half weeks, it’s been four since I last saw him. Three more and he’ll be coming to London to see me. The level of anticipation is ridiculous and difficult to see through. Nothing is settled. I don’t know yet what words to use about us. All I know is, I spoke to him today for the first time in three weeks and all the time I was looking for a catch, for hints that he wasn’t who I’d thought. I didn’t find them. He is the way that he was before. To my relief, so am I.

Saturday June 18, 2011

exegi monumentum.

Filed under: Uncategorized — by hettyweston @ 10:50 pm

Cambridge is fading fast.

On Tuesday, I handed in my thesis, a 11,357-word epic on Statius’ Silvae. The two poems which I addressed are the ones in which Statius praises other poets, 1.2 (to Stella Arruntius) and 2.7 (to Lucan). I was examining these poems to find some methodology behind the dynamics of praise; firstly, how a poet can praise any patron, who is necessarily his social superior; secondly, how a poet, who is necessary a sophisticated, literary type, can successfully praise the poetry of anyone else. In other words, compliments must seem autonomous and sincere in order to be compliments – how could the poet manipulate those circumstances to achieve that illusion? In the periods from Augustan to Flavian (and indeed, much later), those two opposed power dynamics are the reason that a patron is willing to seek praise from a poet, and why a poet is able to offer it. summing up, I was really proud of the work I did on this.

Otherwise: I’ve been to a lot of parties this week, pre-May Week, but I’m spending almost three days of the real May Week at home with my family. I can’t wait. May Week always seemed like a bit of an anticlimax to me, even as an undergrad. My biggest kicks were always from the work I did. and from the music I sang.

I sang my final evensong on Thursday.

This will probably be my most poignant memory of these weeks. For the last four years I’ve spent seven hours a week in there, keeping a straight face during horrific musical errors and bizarre bible readings (“saddled his ass”, “went to the backside of the desert”, etc). On Thursday, I wasn’t emotional at all until our chaplain said the Traveller’s Prayer. then our final hymn was The Day Thou Gavest Lord Is Ended, and then we had our final procession. Choir’s tradition is for a slow, dignified procession out of chapel, keeping step with an opposite number and looking straight ahead. Another tradition is for over-emotional choristers to cry (unobtrusively) at that last service. I never really thought I’d be one of those. In the end, though, I couldn’t face ahead for that procession. I looked down to hide my eyes, and I cried properly (unobtrusively) once reaching the antechapel. I’m not an emotional person, but I found that moment profound and overwhelming.

I think that will be the only goodbye I’ll really face in these weeks. I’m not (necessarily) leaving Classics, or choir, or the people I love here, or, even, Christ’s College. Not permanently. But I’ll never be a chorister again. In this last year especially, it became the bit of my week which I looked forward to, always simple and calming. I knew all the music by heart, and it all came naturally; for the first time in my life, I led others without difficulty or hesitation, without even thinking. I’ll never be a ‘good’ singer, but somehow, and without my noticing, it became for me something indescribably fulfilling. Everything was easy and nothing hurt. etc.

There’s not much left to do here. One more party, one more ball, one more wedding, then it’s off to London to wear office clothes and shadow a consultant for a week, then it’s off to Australia to do something I love and am really good at with a whole bunch of people I really like. One of those people, WW, memorably declared to George, a long time ago, that I was a great girl and “worth the effort”. Backhanded compliment or not, it’s a strange and wonderful thing to gain respect from people whom you also respect. WW is one of the best singers I know, and I’d like to think that he thinks the same of me. Coming out of Cambridge, all this singing and all these people I sing with will be the most permanent marker of my four years of life here. It’s all I’ve achieved, it’s how much I’ve grown and it’s where I’ll be missed. exegi monumentum.

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rains fall soft upon your tracks
And, until until we meet again,
May God hold you safely in the palm of His hand.

Thursday May 12, 2011

as it was in the beginning

Filed under: Uncategorized — by hettyweston @ 11:30 pm

“Aside from technicalities, it’s important that you realise the agreement is binding in law and if you go blabbing about client details or try to profit from company secrets they can take you to court (for compensation and/or an order to stop you blabbing, not the sort of court where they send you to prison).”

Hello world. on Tuesday I had a job interview to which I wore a suit, and which resulted in a job offer. now I’m consulting my Dad about how to sign a non-disclosure agreement. and staying up past my bedtime, apparently.

Suddenly I feel very adult. I think it’s good to mark those moments in life which feel novel, before they become ordinary. One day, maybe a year from now, my life will seem as ordinary as it seems now, but it will be different in almost every way. I spent a lot of this afternoon writing about the immortalising powers of poetry –

exegi monumentum;

ergo etiam cum me supremus adederit ignis,
vivam, parsque mei multa superstes erit.

haec mihi in animis vestris templa, hae pulcherrimae effigies

Monday February 28, 2011

all the family look so strange

Filed under: Uncategorized — by hettyweston @ 10:00 pm

I’m at home! Real home.

I got to Real Home in time for lunch, but while walking from car to front door, I passed what appeared to be a wet, singed book on a dinnerplate, in the driveway. This seemed strange, and I enquired about its origin. My Dad seemed sheepish and told me to ask Sam.

Sam’s explanation went a bit like this (emphasis his): “Daddy left a book out in the rain yesterday, so he brought it inside and decided to dry it by microwaving it. for five minutes. It was a thick book and it hadn’t got any drier after five minutes, so he put it back in and did it for another five minutes. Then he took it out, saw that it was steaming so put it back in, set it for another five minutes and then left the room. Five minutes later I realised that there seemed to be smoke rising from the microwave, so I opened the door, lots of noxious fumes came out and found a book, on fire, in the microwave. I threw two jugs of water over it and put it outside.”

Apparently Mum responded by sighing and telling Daddy to buy a new microwave, which I think says a lot about expectation. Actually the microwave works fine now that all the water’s been drained out, it’s just that our kitchen (well, whole house) smells a bit funny. Ironically the book’s still wet, still outside and now it has singe marks.

Wednesday February 9, 2011

add my effort to you

Filed under: Uncategorized — by hettyweston @ 10:10 pm

conversation over lunch today:

me: I had a pointless twenty minute argument with George last night about the precise meaning of the word ‘nonsequitur’ and the ultimate authority of the OED.
ev: at least you didn’t have sex!
me: …er. yes?
ev: silver lining!

rude comment made by a tenor after the sopranos all come in at different tempi at the start of Howell’s Coll. Reg. in today’s rehearsal:

william: it’s like having an acoustic, isn’t it?

my seminar leader upon being unable to explain the cultural reference of his own Horace Goes Skiing t-shirt:

JH: ahhh, excluded from my own social discource!

These were the good bits of today. tomorrow I’ve a cold shower to face (house heating, broken) and some problematic issues of generic specification (current essay: also broken) but for the next twenty minutes I have a glass of wine and some nice music and (don’t judge me) gossip girl. I just can’t escape my own social discourse…

Friday January 21, 2011

more atari

Filed under: Uncategorized — by hettyweston @ 7:30 pm

I did something really cool today.

That bruise there is my birth control for the next three years. It’s a tiny plastic tube, inserted under the skin, which releases a tiny amount of etonogestrel very very slowly. it’s just like the pill, really, only I don’t have to remember to take it every day. it’s because it takes away that element of human mistake that it’s the most effective type of control you can get at the moment. In a few days the bruise will be gone and I’ll only know it’s there when I touch it to check. which will be often.

Subdermal stuff wigs me out in a too-many-sci-fi-films way, especially because of that really awful scene in A Beautiful Mind. and that horrible bit in the first Matrix film. I don’t like to think about those things too much. but those things aside, this is simple and perfect. plus it’ll give me something to poke in the library when my books get boring.

Science is awesome.

Sunday January 9, 2011

tip of the iceberg

Filed under: Uncategorized — by hettyweston @ 11:30 pm

Last Sunday night I was sitting in the back of a minibus, speeding in breakneck manner through the hilly countryside around Mousehole, Cornwall. The passengers of the minibus were my consort group: two sops, two altos, three tenors and two basses. One of the tenors was driving. Badly. There was a music student in charge of the radio, but we ended up on Classic FM anyway because of one very special case. It was the hall of fame countdown, and they were playing Nimrod, that very overplayed but stunningly beautiful movement from Elgar’s Enigma Variations. This movement spends three minutes building from nothing to one intensely amazing climax, then it falls away again into silence. As it played, gradually all our conversations stopped and nine people fell silent, listening to the build-up and waiting for the resolution.

The music built, gradually, as we listened in silence. Hearts were tight. We were a second away from the crucial moment.

The minibus drove into a valley and the radio went dead.

Nine people screamed in unison.

(for some reason this is my sweetest memory of the whole thing.)

Sunday December 5, 2010

young forever

Filed under: Uncategorized — by hettyweston @ 8:30 pm

Hello blog.

The world’s a bit too big for me at the moment. These last few months have been tough. I feel very tired. I’ve a few very long days in London this week, for Christmas concerts with choir, and then I can go home. Once I’ve submitted a thesis proposal.

In much much better news, I’ve been watching season two of Glee and it continues to be absolutely brilliant. Especially if you’re into a capella and well-arranged cover-songs, but I know my tone-deaf brother watches it and just fastforwards all the singing (lols), so it has plenty of other things to recommend it.

The last few episodes have been especially great. They’ve involved a boys’ choir called the Warblers, a group from a rival school which one character joins because he’s being bullied for being gay. This new school has a no-tolerance policy and no homophobia whatsoever, and everybody behaves in a markedly… ambiguous way. It’s a pretty fascinating concept because boys’ schools are the most epically homophobic places ever, in my experience. Seeing one which is totally lacking homophobic and heteronormative attitudes makes me really happy, even if it’s being flagged up as a fantasy. It’s a plausible fantasy, though: remove discrimination, change the conversation, and you’re free to enjoy singing and dancing and other things which are arbitrarily termed camp, girly and  – the very worst – uncool.

Also they have boyband dance moves AND kickass vocal harmonies. Recent covers: Teenage Dream and Hey Soul Sister.

and this video is unrelated but always makes me laugh.

Wednesday September 29, 2010

the other girl is not like me

Filed under: Uncategorized — by hettyweston @ 11:00 pm

Ahhh I was just googling Christ’s MCR (because, yknow, if you’re invited to a mingle with free cocktails and ‘nibbles’, it helps to know where you’re going), and google says “did you mean christ’s jcr?”

that’s so perspicacious of you, google. yes, yes I did.

I’ve read the entire mcr freshers’ handbook and I still don’t know where it actually is.

Monday September 27, 2010

my best theory

Filed under: Uncategorized — by hettyweston @ 11:00 pm

Hi blog.

It’s been much too long and summarising would be tedious. Only, I’d like to list some things that I’ve learnt about myself this year. It’s not that I’ve only just learnt them, but that I’ve only just sortof realised that these are things I love and it’s not just that they’re universally loveable. Here is my list as it runs so far, in the back of my diary:

  • hammocks
  • Radio 4 podcasts
  • baby animals (bats, hedgehogs)
  • vanilla
  • coffee
  • mushrooms
  • George’s kitten face
  • education theory
  • Latin
  • grammar
  • Latin grammar


Some of these have been combined this evening as I have been watching a really charming BBC documentary called Britain’s Youngest Boarders, which involves some precocious boys at a boarding prep school called Sunningdale. They take boarders as young as 7, as many prep schools do (though I was only aware of this beforehand through George’s unhappy time at a similar school). The reality is a different thing altogether, though, as these children are like, tiny. These children are just children.

I can see it teaches kids stuff about being independent and successful; the boys I know from top public schools have all been confident, accomplished and good at putting themselves forward. but then I see scenes from this documentary of intense and tearful reunions with parents, and I remember George’s accounts of having to be forcibly removed from his mother at the start of term, and I wonder about that. I’m not planning children anytime soon, but I do consider what I’d want for mine.

Anyway, the thing which really moved me to post was an error made consistently on the BBC subtitles where they talked about the boarders having a weekend exiat. oh no you didn’t, Red Bee Media Ltd.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at