A death on Facebook

The irony is he barely used it.

But the Facebook phenomenon exploded out of the teen scene around the time we started our MBAs in ’07, and it became one of those things that tied the cohort together. Many of us lived on campus, most in the same building, and it was a warm and friendly time, seeing a message box or Status pop up from someone just a minute down the corridor.

The greatest thing of all was that the diverse groups on the course never congealed into ethnic enclaves; MBA courses are a great leveller. Sharing kitchens, sharing frustrations, and laughing a lot. Writing a Wall comment that’d be understood by fewer than twenty; adding a Status you knew the whole class would identify with.

It was a special time.

And now, one of the people I shared that special time with is dead.

As the sun rolls around the world and a new day dawns across timezones, the diaspora of the 07-08 Warwick MBA cohort is waking up to a sad message. One of those truly great people – a genuinely together guy, someone capable of stepping outside his own needs and desires to help others or forge a common purpose – has died before his time.

So one by one, we visit the Facebook page of a dead colleague. And leave him a final message he’ll never see, but the rest of us will.

Such messages are for him and his family… but they’re also for us. Letting each other know we gave a damn, and that it makes a difference that we do.

That we still give a damn.

And this message is no different. Because we’re spread around the world now, but some of us read my blog, and they’ll know who I’m talking about.

The darkness is out there. Sooner or later, it takes us all, through chance or time. And in the darkness, there is nothing. The only thing that matters is to make a difference while you’re here. The world has no meaning or purpose save that which we impose upon it… so make sure you impose that meaning, and find a purpose you’re happy with. We’re all on a downhill slope, but while you’re on it you can grab a few outcrops of rock, pull yourself up a little, swing round laughing for a while. Forget the inexorable for a moment and live in the now.

Goodbye, neighbour. You were a terrific guy. But as well as your death, I’m thinking about life.

So I suppose I’m writing this for those left behind, myself included.

We’ve all got the same thing, regardless of its span: a lifetime. But none of us knows how long it’ll be. We may see the dawn of a new century, or technologies only dreamed of, or proof of life on other worlds. The death of friends is a gift: it tells us to make life sweeter. Do with it what we can, while we can.

Sooner or later, for all of us, everything goes dark.

So let’s live.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this

I’m in touch with a few of the latest Warwick MBA full-time cohort, and one thing has become clear: they’re all named after Star Wars characters.

I mean… Sumudu M? Jib Warittha? Gokturk D’mir? Sumudu M’s undoubtedly an X-Wing fighter jockey, defending the rebel alliance from the Empire. Jib Warittha, obviously an ambassador of a friendly alien race, possibly a diplomat. Gokturk D’mir – well, of course that’s an officer on an Imperial Star Destroyer. All of them would be perfectly at home in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

I wish them luck as their second week ends. I mean, my cohort last year was pretty special, but this lot fight space battles! But do they know how to build their own lightsabres yet? They’d better learn. The Force is strong with this cohort.

Wearing my Kenobi hat for a moment, here’s a tip for any of them reading:

“The Operations Lecturer in Term 1 will state your initial presentations ‘do not need to be polished and professional’. Don’t believe him.”


I left the Warwick campus today. Much as I arrived: in the pouring rain.

And now I’m back in London, in my new home. A cheerful top floor of a pleasantly scruffy house down south. Lying on an unfamiliar bed, in the dim light of an dusky lamp, stone cold sober, thinking. And trying not to think too much about the one inescapable fact: I’m not going back there.

The richest experiences are rich precisely because they end quickly. A skydive, a jungle trek, even a month backpacking. You troll through the time taking action to take things forward. But the MBA had a community. When you’re working and studying in each others’ pockets and half the cohort lives a two minute walk away, you feel wanted, part of everything, alive, even in the most despairing moments late at night before an exam you know you’re not ready for. It wasn’t a year out; it was a life. And now it’s gone and I’m already missing it.

Lots to do, lots on the calendar. But the dreamy green campus is behind me now, and I’m sad. In just two week there’ll be another crop of bright-eyed MBA students using our Syndicate rooms, eating our doughnuts, sleeping in our beds. (And, if this year’s anything to go by, each other’s beds too.)

It was a great year. Thank you, Warwick University. Signing off…. now.

Dissertation’s in

I take the last paper-and-book laden walk from Lakeside to the Business School. A brief pause, a few chance hellos, and a final walk up to the third floor. I hand the two newly-bound copies of my 171-page, 24,220 word dissertation to the office people and wish them well.

And just like that – it’s done.

I feel sick

Weird. Now the three-month dissertation project is complete – as usual, it all came down to the last 48 hours – I’ve suddenly lost my usual vitality. In fact, since waking at 7 I’ve felt like crap.

I’m guessing the focus on a rather difficult research question kept me so occupied my body just somehow kept up, although I’ve done little exercise since March except jumping out of the odd plane. Now the last spreadsheet and paragraph is done, and the whole thing’s PDF’d up and with the binding shop, it just let go. I feel like a normal person: listless, incurious, and physically weak. I hope this doesn’t last long.

Low energy day

Well, after dealing with a credit card fraud on Saturday – kudos to Barclays and PayPal here; they made a big and messy job about as simple as it could be – and suffering the syrup-slow train services into London this weekend, I’m starting Monday dog tired but positive about the future.

I moved into my new London home yesterday, top floor of a sprawling townhouse in southwest London. (My own house is rented out right now and I’ve no immediate need for it back.) This place is much further from town than I’m used to – overland train rather than Tube – but it’s quiet and relaxed and with a kitchen that works; I don’t mind sharing for a few months after the scrum of university accomodation, and anyway the room’s got an entire wallful of cupboard space, so I can get ALL my stuff together in one place for once. Carrying 400kg up six flights of stairs wasn’t fun, but at least it’s all done now, and the room itself is large, simple, and carries a single monthly fee. Exactly what I need post-MBA.

The ache of body and mind persists, but I’m excited.

Sucks like a Dyson on steroids

This sucks. Too many goodbyes, too much work, surrounded by packing boxes that only remind me this life is about to end. I’m fighting the dark pool of sadness welling up inside me, but it hurts.

Somehow, this year’s been about more than an MBA; it’s been about constructing a different life, something humanscale and close-knit instead of the broadness and infinity of cities like London. And although it’s contained some very dark moments, I think it’s been the best year of my life. I’ve trekked across scorching deserts and jumped out of aeroplanes just to feel something, but sometimes all you need is a little room on a greenfield campus and the warmth of a great institution around you to feel part of something amazing.

And now it’s almost over.

This sucks.

Burning oil for burning rubber

The pain has stopped. After seven hours of media research for my MBA dissertation, I always knew starting a client assigment at 8pm wasn’t going to be much fun. Dreaming up ideas for seven double-page spreads for a carmaker, after a day painstakingly building 480-point data matrices of media sentiment for FTSE350 companies; it’s all murderously time-consuming, and car ads are harder to write than you’d think – all cars are good now, so good that only Clarkson can tell the difference between them, and there really isn’t much difference between the main brands. Which is why car companies’ ad budgets are among the highest. Any copywriter who can make any particular box on wheels sound special is worth hiring.

But luckily, I think I’ve cracked this one now: not a set of sketched concepts to send in tomorrow, but an actual story, the same idea threaded through a sheaf of pages despite each page highlighting a different feature. This is really, really hard to do, but when the pain suddenly stopped at 10.40pm I knew everything was going to be ok.

The strangest of feelings

Bit of a flat week. I’m on campus for the whole week, for the first time in months; no trips to London, Paris, or dropzones on the cards until next week. I thought I’d enjoy just being here, my last few days of being a student, but instead I feel suffocated.

Maybe it’s because it all feels over without being finished: the interesting parts are done but I can’t leave it all behind just yet. Everyone’s leaving, all my year’s people are flushing out past the lake and beyond the fields. I’ve added a thousand people to my address book this year, but now we’re last year’s cohort the sense of excitement and cameraderie has faded. I’m glad I could participate while the year was running hot, but the importance of those connections is fading fast.

Got to get out. Instead of working away on my dissertation here in my Lakeside room, I’m relocating. The library, the Learning Grid, somewhere. Got to get out, to feel my University around me.

Sorting out life, intense as uncut wasabi

Mission almost accomplished. This week I’ve part-sorted my next role, confirmed some other work that’d take about a day a week for some extra pocket money, and talked about a potential project in Paris that’d pay off a chunk of MBA debt. And I saw my new home.

In keeping with my year-long principle of ‘letting go’, not deliberately controlling my environment – in order to open myself up to more possibilities – I’m not going back to my own little chunk of the London property market next month. I’m going to take a step back, and share a vast house in south London with three friends. A sprawling space to kick back in, a few stops by train from central London, and a big room at the top of the house to crash. Brilliant.

Training back to Victoria after checking it out last night, the lights of the city ranged below me, I felt that same cocktail of sad-and-happy I’ve had before. This year at Warwick University really has been a great year: painful at times, but it’s taught me much cut, with plenty of laughs. The rolling green campus, its iconic Modernist buildings of University House and the Business School that make my heart soar with architectural joy … it’s been a far greater year than I ever expected.

And I got it by kicking back. Not being in control. The last ten months my timetable’s been set for me; that was the point. Handing the reins to someone else for a while had the converse effect of self-actualising me even further.

The quote that drove me to do an MBA – from ‘Batman Begins’, “You know how to fight six men. We can teach you to engage six hundred.” – still holds. I could take on an army now. More interestingly, I could build one of my own.

I think I’ll bunk off project work this afternoon and see ‘The Dark Knight’ in Leicester Square. It’d just fit somehow.

Dreaming on a deserted campus

Blast.As the wind howls and the tumbleweeds drift around the hollowed-out shell of Warwick University, I thought I’d gathered enough material to write the definitive book on doing a top MBA course from the viewpoint of a slightly non-mainstream student, but it turns out Broughton at Harvard got there first.

HBS’s Dean calls his book a ‘betrayal’; actually it’s anything but. It’s a fond recollection of Harvard’s two-year MBA, one of the best courses in the world. (Warwick languishes much further down the top 30, but both are in the absolute bleeding-edge chosen few, and the differences in course content and skills imparted at this level are minor.) What Broughton is guilty of is decrying the consensual groupthink common on MBA courses: that we’re some kind of elite class born to rule. And that’s what his complainants at HBS are really suffering from: the cardinal sin of taking themselves too seriously.

Of course, if you look at the people who really seem to run the world, you’d have to admit all the evidence is on Harvard’s side. Countless global institutions, many democracies, and some of the richest businesses have HBS people heading them. The Illuminati indeed hold Harvard MBAs. Their mistakes lie in equating prestige with usefulness.

None of the institutions thick with Harvard MBAs (or indeed MBAs in general) is doing noticeably more good in the world than anywhere else. The World Bank is a valueless anachronism, and may be actively harmful to non-US nations; one Harvard MBA (George W Bush) has been responsible for the greatest downslide in US soft power in history; the G8 looks ever more like a private club desperate to retain outdated privileges; and a trillion-dollar hiccup in world finance was engineered by people who never looked up from their spreadsheets long enough to ask themselves, “Whoa! Just how, exactly, are two million unemployed people smoking dope in the Southern states going to sustain our pension fund’s double-digit returns?”

It’s a disease mercifully rare at practically-focussed, lore-less schools like Warwick, but I definitely saw it at Oxford, and I bet Yale suffers from it too. A top MBA is a brilliant thing to add to your CV: it gives you easy facility with numbers, a deep understanding of strategy, and creates understanding of how organisations work. But ultimately, the most valuable thing you get from doing all this stuff in such a little bubble – which won’t be taught on any module – is to keep your sense of humour.

Let’s face it, a lot of problems in the world don’t need vast spreadsheets or complex strategies: they’re simple if you just do the right thing. Ask the stupid questions, realise the answer to a lot of them is simple.

The entire African aid budget is insignificant compared to the good that could be done if …. European and American farmers just competed with Africans on the open market. (That’s why I don’t give to charity: it just perpetuates a wrong-headed view of the world. Africans don’t need any help; they just need a level playing field.) The solution to Africa lies in basic economics, not a bunch of MBAs poring over financial models.

Similarly, the problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have always been obvious: an implicit (and now explicit) government guarantee reduced their costs of borrowing, so why exactly were they offering mortgage finance at market rates and trousering the difference? The reason involves an effective lobbying machine – and the results were reportedly $122bn of taxpayers’ cash going into shareholders’ pockets. Public subsidy of private profit, where the shareholders take the profits while the taxpayer soaks up risk. Ridiculous situation. And the solution was simple too, just hamstrung by organisationally behavioural phenomena centred on K Street.

Iraq’s no different. Here we are, with Harvard MBAs fighting a soft problem (the Middle East’s frustration over the West not taking it seriously enough) with hard firepower, souring relations with the region for centuries to come. (9/11, 3/11, and 7/7 were symptoms, not the disease.) Imagine what could have happened if the USA had invested the £300bn war costs in a network of technical schools and universities across the Islamic world: redirecting radicalism’s energy into useful skills, building friendship and creating new consumer markets, neutering the Islamist (political) urge without detracting from the Islamic (way of life) one. A simple choice in tune with America’s basic beliefs about itself, yet a far-reaching, non-military solution was never even given a thought.

MBAs are intelligent people. The 7000 or so people who graduate from the top 1% of business schools each year have natural talent, ingrained drive, and inculcated skills far beyond those of 99.9% of humanity. But what none of us should ever forget is that, often, the world – and what’s needed to solve its problems – just isn’t all that complex.

Spinning it with Bernoulli

I’ve decided to include a paper over 250 years old in the literature review of my MBA dissertation, Daniel Bernoulli’s “Specimen theoriae novae de mensura sortis (Exposition of a New Theory on the Measurement of Risk)”. It’s just possible this is the oldest paper ever cited in an MBA dissertation.

He’s actually of very high relevance to my dissertation subject – a behavioural finance guy centuries before the term was invented, telling us why perceived risk means individual investors rarely use marginal utility for decisionmaking. This has a huge effect today, when millions of emotion-driven traders determine stockmarket values on the basis of sentiment in the media. But my ulterior motive is that citing a mathematical paper written by a Dutch academic, in 1738, in Latin, must surely guarantee me a Distinction.

The Good Student

I’m a good man. And tonight I had proof.

Just spent an evening with a friend, nothing fancy, just noodles and Sauv Blanc. Forgot completely I’d had a load of laundry tumble drying in the block opposite, so went out to get it at 12.30am. I’d been ready for bed for some hours and groaned as I headed downstairs again.

On the way over, there’s a girl arriving at the block’s other door. Leggy blonde, boobs and bum half out of sequinned minidress, the usual thing. You can’t help but look; I mean, whoa.

She’s behaving a little strangely. Keeps doubling up, dropping things. Not unusual around this time on campus, although not an everyday occurence on a Monday. After the briefest of pauses I head towards the other door, bundle my bone-dry clothes into my bag, and head for home.

She’s still there. All tits and ass and legs, in a giggling heap. I ask if she’s okay. She is by the happy undergrad standards – i.e. paralytically drunk – but not if she wants to get home. While campus is safe enough, I don’t want to leave a vulnerable teenager in a doorwell.

I offer to get her home. (My key fits this lock thanks to the laundry access.) I pick up the bundle of tits and ass and legs and support it on my shoulder, trying to get her to talk (it seems like just drunk, but if it’s drugs I’ll be able to tell once she’s talking.) She talks, giggling. It’s just drink.

“I’m Jess.” Giggling. Oh hell and damnation, the bare arms are going around my neck. The face is startlingly beautiful, model-girl even. I ignore it. I’m a good man.

She doesn’t know where she lives. I support her more. She remembers it’s on this floor. Walking down a corridor I notice ‘—— JESS!’ on a door. Whew. Now all we have to do is find the keys…

She’s on the floor again. I sit her against the wall. The minidress barely covers her backside and there’d be nothing left to the imagination, if I imagined it. Concentrate, Worth, concentrate. You’re a good man.

The problem here is that the evening out put half a dozen units into me, just enough to affect judgement and oh bloody hell she’s kissing me. Stop. Stop her. I stop her. This isn’t what I expected when I went to collect my laundry. Keep it together. Her breath’s on my neck and the long legs are – you’ve got nieces this age, Worth. In fact, you’ve got 501s this age. Concentrate. You are an adult helping a young girl home. That’s all you’re doing.

We open the door. She nearly falls. Blast and buckets of blood, that means I’ve got to go in. Take a deep breath.

It’s an undergrad room. In other words, it’s just about possible to see the carpet under the jumble of towels, sheets, clothes, underwear, bags. “I leave in two days!” she mumbles among the jumble. Yeah, sweetheart, and I’m leaving in two minutes.

I don’t even want to think about what’ll happen if security walks down this corridor. I know exactly what it’ll look like. This is bad. I ask her to take a few steps forward, to her bed and sanctuary. She reaches around and DON’T UNZIP YOUR DRESS DON’T UNZIP YOUR DRESS I stop her wriggling and manoevre her to the ‘bed zone’, a mountain of assorted blankets under which there’s probably a mattress. I lie her down. She won’t let go. Her arms are around my neck and I’m horizontal. Let go. The breasts are popping out and my resolve is hardening. I escape her honeyed grip.

She’s on the bed at last, lying on her side, best position if she vomits in her sleep. She’s peaceful, breathing evenly, not in danger. She’ll wake up with a headache, but no worse. I force myself not to linger for a look, and leave.

My laundry bag’s in the corridor where I left it. I shake myself and head across the lawn to my block and home.

I’m a good man.

The importance of sandwiches

Back in the city! Starting my dissertation project in earnest, I’ll now be spending half of each week in London. Feeling fresh. Feeling fast, strong, healthy after nine months of study. Feeling pretty good, in fact.

And all the better for finding a good sandwich shop.

If there’s one feature that really ‘makes’ an office for me, it’s the proximity of a good sandwich shop. Not the Pret a Manger chain type, but an actual family-run deli style place, usually run by Italians, where the bread’s piled in a basket and they make big bowls of mixed fillings every day or two. There’s a great one in – of all places – Surrey Quays shopping centre, where I used to live; the danger in town is that the big chains have squeezed out the independents. Fortunately, the company I’m working with is right next to Sicilian Avenue, one of those London streets with immense character yet without being on the tourist trail, and – paydirt. An Italian-run deli where they greeted me like an old friend on my first visit.

Chicken and bacon with cheese in a ciabatta bun. Sorted.

There Will NOT Be a waterfight! See Below –

And supposedly mature MBAs will definitely NOT be attending.

“Right, as some of you may have heard, the recent attempt to organise “Warwick Water War 08” was cancelled due to “health and safety” issues. The university has said they do not wish for any alternatives. So, furthering on from that particular group, I bring you a warning:

-There will NOT be a waterfight held in warwick to mark the end of the summer term.
-It will especially NOT be held on Monday 16th June.
-It will NOT start at 2PM and end whenever people wish it to.
-It will NOT take place in the field behind Tocil Woods (or anywhere else, subject to change or better ideas), especially in such a place where it will be hard for security to notice anything going on and get to quickly, and where it is easy to run away if any trouble does occur.
-You SHOULD bring your student cards just in case any trouble does start at a waterfight and security asks for them.

I urge you all to forward this warning to as many of your friends as soon as possible, to make them aware of this. Suggestions welcome.

Many Thanks,


DISCLAIMER: For “Health and Safety” reasons – By joining this group, you agree that if you just so happen to attend any waterfight that just so happens to occur as a result of this group, despite my warnings to the contrary, and you just so happen to somehow inexplicably injure yourself, then you promise not to sue me, or anybody in this group, the student’s union or the university, blah blah blah etc.”

June 5th, 2008: the perfect day

I want to preserve this day. Wrap it in gauze and keep it in a wardrobe like a wedding dress. Dry it gently in the breeze next to a new-mown lawn, then fold it lovingly to the dimensions of a rosewood drawer, then slide it shut to keep it crisp and fresh forever.

Today is the perfect day.

The sky’s been bright but the sun not unstinting, stretches of sunlight interrupted by dreamy clouds breezing by. Warm but not hot, no jacket required. The perfect weather.

Preparing my dissertation, I’ve been drifting from Arts Centre to Learning Grid. The structure of my summer project is becoming clear. The perfect work plan.

I’ve paused only for coffee with beautiful women, conversation and frisson more sophisticated than you’d expect on a university campus, outside on the benches while the highly diversity-aware trees sway slowly, listening in. The perfect coffee break.

I’m needed. The need to be needed is perfect, too. Yesterday I was at Lord’s with clients; tomorrow WBS itself wants me on another Open Day; recruiters have started calling. The perfect sense of belonging.

In the sunken central plaza, every step is occupied by groups of laughing students, drinking, smoking, doing things students do. A living place. The perfect plaza.

If only I could store days like this. Open a drawer and spritz a single cloud of lemon to bring this day back, late in the year when outside is scuzzed with slush and a million moist noses report sniffles season. One a week is all I’d need. To experience the perfect day once again.

But doing so would kill it. Value departs when available in infinite measure. And it’d kill me too. For living the perfect day, again and again, would make further progress down life’s path meaningless. So I’ll just appreciate this day while I can.

And so… I near the end …

– of my perfect day!

Bittersweet rush of a year in the classroom

The last roll call!

And just like that – it’s gone. The 14 courses of the Warwick MBA, all teaching now finished. Just last assignments and a dissertation to take care over the next couple of months. A final MBA party, hastily arranged, happened last night, and for a few beautiful hours everything was like September again.

And it’s been good. My only regret was I wish I’d … got into it earlier. I don’t feel I truly got the hang of studing and learning formally until Term 3; thinking back, terms 1 and 2 were nightmarish, winging it on worry and adrenalin. Trying to give the impression that you know what you’re doing takes serious energy, especially when you don’t.

But I’ve learned a few things about myself. I’m still a bad person, but perhaps a bit less bad than I was. And I realise now that I feel most strongly self-actualised when there’s something to push against, like deadlines and course timetables and people to let down. Exhausting and depressing it’s been at times, but it’s also been… awe-inspiring.

Ha ha. Me, who’s walked across deserts and sweated through rainforests, awestruck by a concrete college curriculum.

As an outsourced marketing guy I had essentially no obligations beyond turning a great headline, and that’s the trouble: working alone breeds megalomania. I spent the previous six years detached from reality. During this year I’ve gradually started the long trek back.

So: one of the three wishes almost done: build a relationship with the academic world. The other two I’m surprisingly confident about*, too. I came here not to earn a degree, but turn around a life that’d grown stale, and maybe knock off a few of the rough edges I acquired in six years alone.

I’m at the end of nine months of hard work, and all I want to do is go back and do it again differently. But then everyone would.

*Not telling you yet.

Sweet smell of … something

What a great surprise. Somehow I’ve passed all the Term 2 exams!

I expected to fail one and possibly three, given that a) I’m crap in exam halls, b) I’m not a finance guy, c) I’d deliberately chosen electives I’d find difficult (finance stuff), and d) I turned out to be the ONLY PERSON in the entire cohort doing FIVE of the bastards last term (three electives absolutely had to be on my list, which meant doing an extra one in Term 2 and one fewer in Term 3.)

And yet I’ve sailed through the rocky waters of the Examic Ocean. Not even ‘weak’ passes; only one score came a bit close to the wind, and on the assignments (the parts closest to reality) I’ve scored plenty, even in the finance stuff I’m no good at. Whooohooo!

Pleased that another quarter of this four-term MBA is done and dusted. But at the same time… a little disconcerted. Shouldn’t it have been harder than this?

I expected the numbers stuff to be hard; I don’t have a bad head for figures, I just know nothing about maths save an interest in concepts, so the algrebraic bond pricing derivative greek whatever has been hard work for me. And despite being a marketer of 15 years’ experience, I haven’t done well in ANY of the marketing courses this year.

As ‘soft scientists’, marketing professors don’t really want anyone whose experience was gained in the real world taking their programmes; it offends their sense of how the world ought to be. And it’s showed in my results: steady sixtysomethingpercents all the way through. (The stuff I wrote was perfectly valid marketing: it just wasn’t THEIR marketing.) But even so, those scores weren’t difficult to obtain.

I’d love to say I’ve been up until 2am every night studying, absorbing texts and case studies and burning away blood in the Learning Grid. But I just haven’t. (Except for the 2am mornings in the Learning Grid. But I’m a ‘night’ person by nature.)

The only genuine problem for me was all the group work an MBA entails; when you’ve been working as long as I have, some academic’s idea of what constitutes ‘group working’ tends to be both artificial and insultingly juvenile. On the POM course I felt like Kindergarten Cop. And a course packed with representatives of a single nationality didn’t help the time management aspect – or indeed the ‘diversity’ such courses like to trumpet.

(British MBA courses draw most of their cohort from the subcontinent these days, but for me, ‘Shout at each other excitedly at high volume until someone listens’ isn’t ideal academic practice. I came here expecting a degree course in the Western intellectual tradition, yet what I got was… Mumbai Central at rushhour.)

But that’s besides the point. I didn’t really swot or sweat blood from my forehead.

I just did what I always do. Opened a textbook the day before and… winged it. Which I’ve always been good at, too good at to stop. Winging it through life, on a feather-thin slice of cash and the ability to string a sentence together. I’m a fraud.

Or maybe I’m just fooling myself, and this is how everyone works.