6th May – A discovery in a different quarter

Another exam has been completed and examination season stress is beginning to abate. An irritation of exams is that many seem to be scheduled for early in the morning. This does not suit my temperament, yet to complete the deed by noon and have the rest of the day for celebrations and relaxation in a sybaritic manner is a bonus. The paper itself went smoothly but discovering the facile errors one has made can disturb even the solidest of minds.

Additionally I discovered within my wallet a foreign coin. What I at first perceived to be a ten pence coin turned out to be an American quarter. Some person must have given it to me in a pile of change. I did not realise its presence until the next time I had need of payment. I particularly enjoyed the Latin motto on the coin, e pluribus unum (from many one). A boon of learning Latin has been trying to decipher various mottoes on monuments and buildings. Classics must have some use I suppose.

Moreover, I have decided I would quite like to learn a new language. I’m leaning towards a Scandinavian one at the moment. However, it would be interesting to learn a language which is not Indo-European, as all these languages share a common route it would intriguing to start from a true blank slate.

A now sybaritic writer,

Edmund Donnellan.

State hood quarter dollar obverse, Philadelphi...

State hood quarter dollar obverse, Philadelphia mint, uncirculated. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


4th May – Euphonious Sounds and Local Elections

David Cameron


A dull end to a dull day. The evening has drawn in and action has still alluded me. On a lighter note, after pondering for a while I believe my two favourite Ancient Greek words are λαμβάνω (take) and δεῖπνον (dinner). They have a certain euphony and interesting sound to them. I am not sure if English is a euphonious language naturally; but it has such a large array of vocabulary and different ways of speaking it that one can probably fall anywhere on a spectrum of pleasurable vocalisation.

Sadly, I could not vote in the English local elections recently. I was at university on polling day and could not get a proxy or postal vote in place in time. Surely the democratic process will survive though. Sometimes it feels as if the main political parties are quite homogeneous and one vote will never change anything. Of course, that is not an attitude which a vast majority of people could hold, as then the oligarch of remaining voters would matter and you would probably become less apathetic.

For the question of American politics, I prefer to read The New York Times and The Economist. Although after a while of reading the former one can see why Americans complain of media partisanship.

Now I shall attempt to sleep. Work can be done tomorrow and I hope optimistically for an early start.

Your marginally tired correspondent,


4th May – Sleeping beauty lacks a work ethic

Sleeping Beauty, Gustave Doré, via Wikimedia Commons

Today has hardly been industrious. I awakened just before noon, discovering I had missed breakfast. Unperturbed at the time I returned to my slumber for another two hours.

It is now half four and no work has been done or even attempted. I then began to wonder; how does one acquire a work ethic? A conscientious attitude to work, projects and deadlines seems to have eluded me. Is the assiduous worker born with this attitude programmed into them or is it an aspect one can develop through volition or environment. To speak in general terms I believe a conscientious attitude to work is more often found in women. Keen to do a satisfactory job and more apt to worry about what their colleagues think, women usually have a greater incidence of the work ethic. Men – although the eager worker goes forth just as assiduously – are less risk-averse and are more willing to gamble that something will turn out for the best in the end.

I would hazard a guess that this is more of a case of nature over nurture, as with most things. Yet am I happier the way I am? I find struggling through a task difficult if unenthusiastic; happier to take a chance that a thing can be delayed or corners cut. Maybe I am not a paragon of productiveness, but it is a path I do not mind – slowly – walking down.

Your eager and dynamic writer,

Edmund Donnellan.

4th May – The larks of being a night owl

I am not a lark. In truth I would be categorised into the owl avian category. It is 1 o’clock and the cogs of my mind seem to be most efficient. Although I feel a slight physical fatigue, my mind whirs on. I often feel as if going for a walk at this time, in the quiet, but tiredness quickly and suddenly seizes one in the early hours.

I must begin revising soon. It is not a prospect I relish – Ah! Needs must. I will try and write a letter quotidien and more regularly when the fancy seizes me.

May sleep find you swiftly,

English: The owl Mephistopheles

English: The owl Mephistopheles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


3rd May – Mad Medea is ‘Spaced’ out


Euripides (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I find the process of writing not so much soothing as rewarding. The sense of satisfaction to see thoughts, which would whisk past as zephyrs in the mind, written down for posterity. Some words which have lasted a long time are Medea’s in Euripides’ play;

‘I would rather stand three times with a shield in battle than give birth once.’

Although a character that was overwhelming to the Greeks, her description as arch-feminist is also debateable. The dilemma which this line poses is, which is the worst predicament. The ancient woman would have certainly faced problems if difficulties arose in childbirth. But the two experiences would only have a limited number of participants, even today.

It is the character that is of most interest; seeing her reputation as above all, to the extent of gruesomely killing her children, the play does not hold back on the melodrama.

Moreover, I watched greater amounts of ‘Spaced’. It reminds me of programmes such as ‘The IT Crowd’ and ‘Black Books’. There are few moments of uproarious laughter, that maybe a more physical comedy would offer,  but it tickles the soul and will probably offer satisfactory repeat viewing.

Conversely, my Tolkien reading has slowed, I find myself in that paralysis often found a third of the way into a book when the first flushes of plot development have faded and one must strive through a plateau. By God I will try though!

I grow slightly weary of my room these last few days, I believe I will partake in some exercise tomorrow, to stretch weary muscles and warm old bones.

Your loyal friend,


3rd May – Exam elation

Elation – the exam went as well as can be expected. Although I was happier that I could reach an irenic state of mind. Sometimes I feel an awful sense of foreboding before an event, it is entirely irrational yet when the deed is done one feels as if a weight has been lifted. It was mainly translation and commentary as well as unseen texts which posed a challenge but not an insurmountable one.

It took place in a large hall which was of a Victorian Italianesque Renaissance style. A mural of Minerva looked down upon me and the time flew past. I walked back in the rain after it was over, it did not seem an annoyance though as the day was warm and the light drizzle refreshing.

Alas, my task is not over yet. I have another exam in a few days and must begin preparation. However, now I think I will take a break from more academic needs and either read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or some essays by the theologian Stanley Hauerwas. If I were feeling particularly indolent, I would watch the television series ‘Spaced’. The series is one I have recently stumbled across and is a light, heavily pop-culture referencing comedy about North London flatmates.

We shall see. I also will read some of The Economist to keep track of the English local elections, which are shaping up to be mildly interesting (relatively for a regional election). This brings me to another point concerning following current events. The Telegraph has recently introduced a pay-wall on their website. I would normally mix The Guardian and The Telegraph as my two main sources of current news; this was to gain a balance perspective as the tone of both begins to grate on the mind after a while. But now my subtle balance has been lost. Ah!

Your faithful writer,

Edmund Donnellan.

2nd May – Failure and sleep

I find myself at a juncture. It is the night before my first examination. Failure is a very realistic possibility; thus to continue to revise with diminishing returns or to slumber soundly and pray knowledge bounds back into my cranium. Since I do not wish to dwell upon it, I will move on to greener pastures and dream of other things.

Your worried writer,


1st May – Procrastination and introduction

This first letter will be a product of procrastination. You may wonder, what is there to put off? That would be an exam. And not just any exam but one covering a fiendishly difficult ancient language. It is probably less difficult for the assiduous worker, but for those who find revision and extra-curricular work a chore than an impending exam is an unwelcome intrusion.

The predicament brings to mind a line from ‘The Lord of The Rings’ (although some literary purists might consider it and the fantasy genre rather puerile, it serves its purpose as a key procrastination tool):

‘It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.’

The problem with revision is finding the will to start. However nostalgia also plays its part. One thinks back to those not very distant days without the approaching scholastic test and wonders how that time was taken for granted. As well as reading, pondering and socialising I find myself spending too much time on the internet. With its quick bursts of entertainment and factual snippets it can amuse the user for hours while he feels he has not learnt anything useful or spent his time at all efficiently. I believe prior generations were not enabled to such a degree to be affected by short attention spans because the internet did not exist.

Although, one aspect which is helping me to bear my ordeal is the thought of plans over the summer. I find myself given over to wanderlust and am debating in my mind whether to travel over the summer to either Central Asia or the Middle East. Although pecuniary difficulties could curtail these desires, somewhat, I hope to at least work for a period in France.

But the night draws in, twilight is upon me and the cold hand of revision drags on my shoulder.

Your esteemed friend,

Edmund Donnellan.