Database driven life

One of the really impressive things about Warwick University is its databases. Or more to the point, the way its databases connect to the student intranet and let me, slumped in my study bedroom, collect pretty much everything I need to write my assignments and dissertation.

Take just now. An article referenced in one of the readings for a Strategy module caught my eye. It’s not in the readings, although it’s a seminal article on the globalisation of business from the 1980s. This is probably a test: the course director may have left that article in plain view, referenced in the folder’s readings but not actually in the folder as a handout, in order to see which clever buggers would spot it and look it up.

So I look it up. A few clicks and searching into the library, the business section, and a subscription index. A search on author and title. And – within a second – it’s there: the full-text article, not in ASCII but an actual scanned page of the Harvard Business Review from 1983, complete with foxy-edged pages and the imprint of someone’s pen pressed too hard on a previous page a quarter of a century ago. Brilliant.

In the vastness of the Internet, I inhabit a more tightly-clustered node: an ordered space of indexed scholarship, given shape and form by subscriptions and module structure and the sheer buzz of a campus wired for desseminating knowledge. From my little room here, I’m wrapped in a warm, comforting coccoon of information plus the means to make sense of it.

I’m going to miss this place.

The name’s Worth, Chris Worth…

Of all the ridiculous things a year as a student has allowed me to do, attending the University Sports Ball as a member of the Skydiving Club is probably the funniest one so far. (Just booked my tix today.)

Now the next problem: sorting out a dinner suit.

It’s been several years since I last wore black tie; I’ve completely forgotten the whole culture around it. For example, a ‘tuxedo’ technically means white jacket, which is pretty hard to carry off outside the Caribbean anyway, and at a ball where the dinner involves tomatoes it’s completely out of the question. Black jacket, definitely. But whose?

I mean, I have to overcome a natural disadvantage here: since it’s the summer ball of the university’s sporting clubs, there’ll be a large number of physically imposing males in the tent (well, in addition to me, obviously) and it’ll take a lot to look impressive in that crowd. I’ve scheduled in daily swims and sessions to get myself back in shape after a few weeks of lumpen deskbound-ness, but that’s only half the problem. The other half is the suit.

There’s no way – no way – I can go for the standard Moss Bros rental like everyone else. I need the kind of suit Daniel Craig gasped at in ‘Casino Royale’ when Eva whipped out a tailored one for him, after he’d protested he already had a dinner suit. That’s what a truly great suit does: make you go ‘whoa’. But how can I get one?

There’s got to be a way. Discounters, vintage shops, and friends (of my height and build) are on the list to call next week; one of them will have something truly sensational in my size. It’ll be the perfect way to make the evening go with a bang.