Alex Parnham-Cope

I’ve been stuck in bed a lot this term. I caught what I’m certain are three separate colds (my dad disagrees), scrunched up my feet in a pair of shoes so my heels fell off (don’t ask) and, now, can hear that faint ringing in my left ear which signals the arrival that ear infection which has returned semi-regularly since I swam in the Hampstead ponds.

Like any good Cambridge girl, I hate being unproductive. So I crochet while I watch Love is Blind and run through a pack of tissues, my wrist twisting back and forth in a rocking motion. The soft, easy swaying is comforting as I watch the minutes I have frittered away line up, each one connected to the one before, after, above, below, minute soldiers arm in arm, standing single file, red thread muscles taught.

And I write, because I haven’t in months, and because my fingers are itching. And I think about time, and I carve nonsensical scribbles into an old notepad with the broken nib of an old pen I find on my floor.

Questions for my supervisor I’ll forget to ask

From before my supo: “What is modernity?”

And later: “Do I really need to define modernity ??”

I was recently reading about the Great Disruption. There is a theory that between 1792 and 1815, life changed so rapidly and so fully and at such a fundamental level that there was a temporal rupture in the general consciousness. Before then, the past was seen as no different to the present. After, the space of experience and the horizons of expectation became so removed from each other that people could no longer conceptualise the past as alike the present at all, and the future stretched out unknowingly. The past was historic, the future either utopian or dystopian. I was reminded of this when I watched a girl play smash or pass on TikTok with deep fakes of early US presidents adapted from their state portraits and modernised. I wonder if we’ve started connecting with the past again now that technology can jerk such intangible, deeply removed figures into the uncanny present. Also James Monroe? Lowkey smash.

I’ve always hated kindles

I’m a fair weather romantic. When the walk to Sidge is a twenty minute stroll through King’s, the sun filtering through orange leaves to dapple the Cam in its comforting spotlight, I’ll happily brave the journey for a paperback (as long as an arc cookie is waiting with my name on it). But when my mum’s old umbrella is the only thing saving me from ruining the hems of my jeans as I stagger past the consultants on king’s parade tempting me to sell my soul for a stale marshmallow? No. Then, I stay home. This has all worked well for me - the added benefits of working from bed involve lemsip and snacks, not to mention the fact that the beauty of a hard copy will always outweigh copying and pasting from a pdf. But none of the secondary reading for Borges’ Ficciones is available online. So I make the pilgrimage.


Mountain View

Notebook: Cambridge is gorgeous in autumn

Working in the panopticon

Sometimes, the feeling of everyone watching you is helpful. The Seeley fans out in a ripple of dismay and self loathing, and sometimes - if you catch me in the right mood - I feel motivated as I suddenly panic over whether to walk down the left- or right- hand stairs, looking over the library on the platform entryway like a lesser known royal unsure whether or not to wave. Sometimes, though, I have the sudden realisation that my constant sniffling, which I’m drowning out with headphones, is still loud for everyone else. Then I have to leave.


This cold - or flu, as I like to call it so I can justify skipping a supervision – is the worst of my life, I lament to my dad on the phone. He asks me if I just called him to complain. I decide whether to answer yes or no. Either one would be indignant. Yes – and so what? You decided to have me. I didn’t ask to be born etc etc. No – I also need some advice on how to deal with an ear infection, and I wanted to see how you were. Whatever. My brain is submerged in a layer of fog and I have a +7 prescription so there’s no way I’m making it out of this haze. I’ll just drink a dose of cough syrup which borders on lethal and go to sleep.

I’ll wonder why a just-below-average day can feel like the worst one of your life. I’ll wonder why, on a truly earth shattering-ly, life altering-ly, horrific day, you worry instead how long you should wait before texting him back, how short you should cut your hair, how many stitches wide your new scarf needs to be.