"Wow! You have so many shoes!"

Why is it that everyone who visits my Hall room comments on my shoes?!

I mean, is 12 pairs really excessive given that I had to squeeze the contents of a 3 storey house into a single study bedroom? Of the 12 pairs, only 5 are smart shoes, the rest are casual or trainers, and 2 pairs are cycling shoes when I don’t have any bikes here, so they don’t count. The effective USC (Usable Shoe Count) is barely into double figures.

Yet every single person who’s seen inside my room – from the Malaysian guy who borrowed a shirt for his CV photo, to the Ghanian girl who just dropped by to borrow a textbook – has broken off in mid-sentence to exclaim “Wow! You have so many shoes!”

I dunno, my rep as a minimalist is taking a beating. Does minimalism apply to clothes?

Velvet smooth

I’m all but sure that when it comes to seduction soundtracks, there hasn’t been anything in 40 years to equal Velvet Underground. I mean, next to ‘Loaded’, Barry White is the geeky kid with glasses who sits at the back of class.

Which makes it a pity I’m flying solo tonight; had a chance of dinner a deux or mixed volleyball and ended up flunking both over a deadline. (It’s really hard turning down a £600 a day rate, even when you’re supposed to be studying!!!) I just hope these guys appreciate what I gave up to supply them with 800 words of copy.

(I used to have a standing joke that my day rate, divided by the number of words I actually produced for it – frequently just a headline – made me higher paid by the word than Tom Clancy. That’s not a joke any more, not with £20K in tuition fees hanging over me.)

I’m going to have to put you on the Grid**

There are some things at the University of Warwick that just take your breath away when you’ve been outside academia for years, and one of them’s this amazing place called the Learning Grid. The best description I can come up with: it’s a library for teams.

It’s got books, tables, chairs, PCs, all the usual stuff. But there’s no requirement to be quiet or bookish; if you want that, go to the proper Library elsewhere on campus. The Learning Grid’s ethos is teamwork. Large tables with six chairs around them, moveable screens you can wheel around to create your own ‘meeting room’, projectors and photocopying whiteboards and AV equipment up the wazoo. Group work is encouraged. Conversation and noise are fine. Steaming cups of coffee are welcome. The environment’s bright, modern, clean, functional, and stays that way 24 hours a day.

It’s a brilliant idea: not a replacement for a fusty-dusty bookworms’ haunt but an adjunct to one, something complementary to meet the needs a traditional library doesn’t answer. It’s a great place, well-designed, but not trendy, functional but not minimalist, with enough technology to model the protein folding problem and a buzz about it that’s instantly relaxing. If you had to model the ideal environment for white-collar teamwork from scratch, it’d look a lot like the Learning Grid.

**Reference: Tron (Early 1980s sci-fi movie)