quit these pretentious things…

2010! What a year it’s been. Looking back, the year splits into two distinct parts, separated by a long, glorious summer. I’ve written a lot about the start of the year and the summer, but I’ve been quieter about what I’ve been up to since moving to Manchester. This is largely because I am so busy there. I’m very lucky to have found a marvellous band of friends up there, and so I spend my days studying at the faculty and my evenings going to the pub, watching football in the common room, going to gigs… all in excellent company.

When I went to Sheffield, I was very shy and I didn’t really want to leave my friends or my girlfriend from home, so I spent lots of time talking to them online and very little time trying to make new friends. This is a terrible idea! I obviously did make some friends there in the end – some excellent friends – but my biggest regret about that year is how antisocial I was. I remember feeling very lonely and miserable in that first semester, and it’s no wonder why! You need people in your immediate life, or you’ll go crazy. Going to Manchester, I knew I wanted to do the whole going to university thing the right way this time. I think I have done.

The maths is also going very well, but I won’t bore you too much with that. It took me a while – a long while, really – to get used to the transition between being an undergraduate and being a postgraduate. I have an office, go in early every morning and stay til around 5pm… it feels more having a job than being a student (the whole ‘getting paid’ part helps with this feeling, too). Except it’s the greatest job ever, because I’m surrounded by interesting people who talk about interesting mathematics, and every day I’m getting to learn something really, really exciting. Spoiler alert: topology is cool.

Manchester is a big, big city. In Sheffield, I could walk from my house to the centre of the city in, say, half an hour. In Manchester, you have to get a bus. But the buses come often and are cheap, and there’s something really exciting about living in a place so large and busy. It has an energy about it unlike nowhere else I’ve lived. The nightlife is fun, and the gigs here are phenomenal. I think I went to two gigs in my entire time at Sheffield, but there seems to be someone worthwhile playing in Manchester every week. Highlight of last semester has to be GSY!BE, who were phenomenal and not a band I ever thought I’d get to see live. 65 were also fantastic. I don’t feel at home in a city until I’ve seen 65 play there.

Manchester is also only half an hour’s train journey away from Wigan. I wasn’t planning on getting a season ticket, just going to the odd match here and there, but I went to the league cu tie against Preston in my first week and from then on there was no question about it. We were terrible that night – terrible – but I didn’t care. There’s a guy in the East Stand who brings a drum along to games, and on that rainly night, with the drum beating and the crowd roaring the players forward in search of an equaliser – blue white army blue white army blue white army blue white army – I felt a sort of intensity and power unlike anything else. The story of how I began following Wigan is  farfetched and improbable, but when a football team gets you – really gets you -they have you and you’re stuck with them forever. And they will upset you and let you down and make you want to scream sometimes, but they’re your team and sometimes – just sometimes – they will be magnificent. I’m struggling to write what I really want to say here, but I guess it’s something like: over the past few years, supporting Wigan has become a big part of my life, and now I have the opportunity to go watch them every week, it’s fantastic.

I’m very good at talking about something without really getting the point of what I want to say. You’ve probably noticed. Perhaps my resolution for 2011 should be to be more succinct.

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