The Philosophy of Philosophy

I’ve been having a load of fun over the last few days recovering from a fluey bug I caught last week (thanks dad) and doing my references for a philosophy essay. I’m determined that this time I’ll actually know what the references are about rather than just skimming the first page like I usually do, so I’ve been reading all the way through and making notes to refer to for the essay. It’s 100% coursework, OK, there isn’t an exam for this module (!!!) so I really need to do well.

I think my least favourite part of it was the part where two of the books only exist as hard copies in the library at RHUL, 40 minutes away from home. Thank god I realised before I went up to Yorkshire, because there’s just something about a 4 hour drive to the library that doesn’t appeal, you know? As it was I had to spend half an hour checking the same damn shelf because I’d mixed the two books up and I was looking for the wrong three letter code.

Anyway, the question I’ve chosen is about knowledge in art. Can art give us knowledge? My instinctive answer is, of course it can! But I’m starting to think that maybe that knee-jerk reaction might not be entirely correct. In fact – and this is a good one, I’m thinking I might throw something like this in – the mere assumption that artistic quality has to be associated with cognitive brilliance is indicative of the privileging of intellectuality inherent in European society. This elitism regarding standards of media possibly limits our appreciation of art to that which is ‘traditionally’ cognitively brilliant. tl;dr: we think stuff has to be clever to be high quality, but maybe it doesn’t.

Wow that paragraph was a mouthful. almost as much of a mouthful as some of these readings. Well, I’d better get back to it. Lamarque isn’t going to read himself…


Deadline Day, the last lecture, and potentially too much sushi

Yesterday was deadline day! Some departments have lots of days where they have to hand essays in, but the music department just simplifies things. “everything in on the last Wednesday of term, kids” they say. “Two hard copies and submit in online and WRITE YOUR CODE ON THE COVER SHEET WITH YOUR CANDIDATE NO. THAT CHANGES EVERY YEAR. what are you talking about this is easy stop crying”

I mean, there’s also my composition techniques exercise which is due on the first day after the Easter holidays. And the philosophy essay that’s due in on the day of my first exam. Apart from that, we’re done.

Oh, and of course options selection day on Friday. For those not in the know, the options selection form must be submitted by email at 8.30. Attempts to submit the form before 8.30 will be met with your form being sent to the back of the queue. ??? Its a baffling system to me, particularly as the form itself is approximately 50 miles away from a sensible format. And of course all the lectures are on a ‘first come first serve’ basis, which doesn’t really work if everyone’s frantically submitting the damn things at 8.30 in the morning. I digress.

Oh, not to forget handing in the accompaniment for my recital! Yet another thing to have to photocopy and sellotape together, because paper & ink & sellotape are cheap.

Fortunately, today was my absolute last lecture of the year, so we celebrated afterwards with some sushi rolls and a cup of chai latte.

Recipe: Cauliflower Pizza (…)

Memoirs of a Music Student | A bit of this, a dash of that

You know those days where you suddenly realise you’ve bought too much cauliflower? (yeah, I know this is a very unlikely situation. Just roll with it, people!) What could you possibly do with all that cauliflower? Assuming you don’t just want to burn the cauliflower, here’s a great recipe for using up excess evil vegetables:

You will need:

1 large head of cauliflower
1 egg
Loads and loads of grated cheese (mozzarella or cheddar are my usual suspects)
A small tin of tomato (or a large one if you plan to freeze half of it. you nerd)
Some other toppings to disguise the hateful taste of cauliflower


1. Remove all the weird bits from the cauliflower. You know, the leaves, the stalks etc. Or whatever.

2. Grate the cauliflower. This could take a while, so make sure you allow plenty of time for existential crises on where the hell your life is going

3. Boil the cauliflower until its tender. If you like the taste of cauliflower, this step will be easy because you can just eat a small amount to test it. If not, it’s probably done after 10 minutes.

4. Drain it. Seriously, use a sieve.

5. Pour the pulpy vegetable into a tea towel (or a cheesecloth, depending on your level of fanciness) and use that to squeeze out the rest of the water. Yeah, this is really hard. But you have to do it! The fate of the world rests upon your ability to squeeze the maximum liquid out of the damn sodding cauliflower.

6. Continue with step 5 until your hands are really really painful.

7. Whisk an egg in a bowl and mix the cauliflower into the egg really thoroughly. The egg helps it all to bind together, presumably.

8. Line a baking tray with parchment or greaseproof paper (hint: tin foil is a bugger to get off the underside of a pizza, but that could just add to the fun later on???), and smooth the ‘dough’ onto the tray. Make sure to press it down firmly to be all smooth and whatnot. Make it as thin as you like, or don’t. Do whatever, dude, I can’t tell you what to do.

9. Bake in the preheated oven (at 200 degrees, CELCIUS!!! can’t stress that enough) for about 25 minutes or until it’s golden and crunchy. The crunchiness of the base is pretty critical, otherwise it goes all limp and weird.

10. In the meantime, prepare your tomato. I like to blend mine with a bit of garlic, but whatever floats your boat dude.

11. When the base is done, put the tomato, general toppings (and pesto in dribs), and grated cheese on the pizza. Bake again for about 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melty and hopefully golden-crispy

12. Enjoy, if you can.

A very busy Wednesday

9:00 – Alarm goes off. Theoretically, get up now and have breakfast in order to start work on essays and programme notes at 10:00

10:00 – Get out of bed. Theoretically, now have the postponed breakfast and get on with your day.

10:30 – Having finally left your bedroom, rejoice in the knowledge that you’ve definitely checked tumblr half a dozen times. That’s an achievement and a half, eh?

11:00 – Bloody hell, does breakfast always take this long? Never mind, you’ve got essays to do and not a lot of time to do them in.

11:05 – I can’t possibly do my essays with the washing up making eye contact with me.

11:07 – But then again, who really wants to do washing up? not me. Maybe I should put a load of clothes in the washing machine. As well all know, a full hamper means a terrible session of essay-writing.True story.

11:08 – I know a lot less than I thought I knew about Parisian polyphony.

11:09 – My music degree is, for some reason, allowing me to study Gothic architecture. Well. At least I know all about arches now.

11:30 – The first 100 words were easy enough. If I could just find another damn reference…

12:00 – Wow, I’m amazing. 200 words in an hour. Bloody hell, that rate of typing is flipping inspiring.

12:01 – Now, onto my next task. Writing the programme notes for one of my pieces

12:05 – According to the internet, this piece doesn’t actually exist.

12:07 – And the composer only has a paragraph bibliography on wikipedia

12:09 – Shit

12:15 – Shit

12:30 – well done, you managed to waffle some absolute bullshit about how the guy was born to a shoe-maker. Good job. Now, you’ve got 10 minutes to get everything out of the washing machine and hang it up on clothes horses before you go to midweek music.

12:45 – Good joke

12:50 – No, seriously, leave now.

12:55 – Why – so – many – stairs? This – is – what – I – get – for – living – on – a – fucking – hill  – stop – judging – me – other – pedestrians – this – is – steep

12:56 – Oooh, a flat bit

12:59 – More stairs? 😦

13:15 – The glorious music is so gloriously musical. It’s just a shame I have to write a review about this. Let’s see… “the music sweeps in gloriously high sweeping melodies. the melodies are melodic. the choir turned up, so that’s good”

13:46 – Yeah, we’re all enjoying it sunshine, but you’ve run over now. Let’s just stop so we can go home.

13:48 – The organist is singing to his friends to show them which bits he did wrong. I feel you, friend. I also thought you made a mistake.

14:15 – Write up the review. Do it.

14:20 – Stop using the words ‘glorious’, ‘rich’, and ‘melodious’

14:40 – It’ll do. Now, another 200 words and you can stop doing sodding Parisian polyphony for one afternoon.

15:20 – The essay is such an absolute load of shite I’m glad it won’t have my name attached to it. Now, I’d better get ready for orchestra later. If I make my lunch now it’ll have time to chill before I leave

15:21 – where the actual fuck is my bassoon

15:22 – fuck fuck fuck fuck

15:25 – OK it’s at the practice rooms. So I guess I’ll just have to take a detour via the practice rooms to get it and then continue on my merry way to the station.In the opposite direction. Fan-fucking-tastic

15:30 – In the meantime, speed cooking! And then speed washing up

15:50 – There is so much water in this rice it’s a wonder it’s not still swimming around like tiny white fish. FOCUS

16:10 – I am almost 100% sure this hill only exists to taunt me. YES RANDOM STRANGERS I AM CARRYING A MUSIC STAND THANK YOU FOR NOTICING

16:30 – No, I’m not following you, we’re just going the same way. It’s a university. THERE WILL BE OTHERS TAKING THE SAME PATH AS YOU

16:31 – If you don’t move quicker I will hit you with my stand. I can’t overtake, this isn’t a road.

16:40 – Well, I’ve just missed the bus to the station. Now to wait at the stop like a cool bro and not look completely self-conscious.

16:41 – Ah, the age old question. To put the bassoon down or not to put it down? Putting it down will take ages and may end up with someone getting hit over the head (me), but not putting it down will mean getting on the bus takes longer

16:42 – Ow

17:00 – The bus should be here in 7 minutes. Better check my watch pointedly to make sure everyone knows I’m on it

17:02 – Still on it

17:05 – Still on it!

17:07 – In the moment I dropped it, the bus arrived. IS IT THE RIGHT BUS? Nobody knows.

17:08 – The driver knows. It’s the right bus.

17:23 – The train is here. If I get this train, I’ll be something like half an hour early. Better catch the slow train and be there on time!

17:45 – I hate the slow train good god

18:20 – I hate the train I hate everything I hate the universe and I especially hate YOU, man who tried to push past me but then fell onto one of the seats. Karma.

18:30 – It’s a good thing I’m patient or being crammed onto a tube like a sardine would be torture

18:40 – why is there a queue for the escalator

18:41 – Oh good god

18:45 – If I have to queue to get on this carriage I will scream. Internally. And on the outside look calm and polite as ever, because it’s important not to randomly scream on the underground

18:55 – stairs??????????????????/

19:00 – I’m hungry but I also hate the food I brought. this was a mistake

19:30 – “we’re starting on time tonight”

19:40 – start


20:00 – oh good we’re playing something else now


20:00 – my face hurts and my eyes hurt and my head hurts and I am thirsty

20:30 – “ten minute break guys” yep, sure. I’ll just be over here with my hot chocolate and my iced gems and feel sorry for myself

20:45 – “ten minutes”


21:00 – ??? what is this why am I playing the cello part??? and on my own with the strngs??? Liszt, were you high?

21:30 – um, are we done? we have like 30 minutes left


21:45 – be free from this place 15 minutes early, ducklings. be free

22:00 – Arrive at the station. The possibility of catching the 22:20 train is approximately 1 in 1000000

22:20 – as we’ve only just arrived at Waterloo, the 22:20 train may be tricky

22:30 – What platform is the next train?

22:35 – ?

22:40 – ???????

22:41 – sprint sprint sprint gotta get a seat

22:45 – oh god it’s the ‘is he drunk or does he just ramble on like that all the time’ game?

22:46 – Maybe if I read I’ll stop being a potential target

??:?? – Book finished, where the flippity-flop am I

23:15 – ugh, 15 minutes left. time for some hardcore sudoku

23:29 – oooh, almost there. better disembark or something


23:45 – it’s always nice coming home and having NO-ONE ELSE BE HERE. YEP, JUST ME AND THE LAUNDRY

00:00 – bed? nah, jokes.

Mock Recitals, with weirdly blurred vision on the side

Last Friday I performed in front of a very small group of people. It might even be accurate to say that the small group of people was in fact approximately 10 people, possibly even less. In fact, a reasonable estimate would be half a dozen. Still, it was a recital, of sorts. Everyone taking the solo performance module is required to perform in one lunchtime recital over the course of the year, and mine was last week. So, naturally, having had two terms to prepare myself and many weeks to get in touch with the accompanist, I chose to give the accompanist my music on Tuesday and practice for the recital for twenty minutes on Thursday. My middle name might as well be ‘Well Prepared’.

Yeah, OK, maybe that’s not actually very well prepared but you can’t tell me what to do, lecturer! 

As it happens, the recital thing went reasonably well. Apart from one tiny panic in the middle where I thought we were going to have the world’s shortest concert at 15 minutes (yeah…), the whole thing went swimmingly. Until the moment when I tried to stand up (to bow), realised I couldn’t get my right eye to focus at all, that I had a sharp pain on the right side of my head, and that things were a bit blurry on the right side of the room. So I sat down again. Anyway, long story short, the pianist was eventually able to persuade everyone that there was no more music to be had (at all), and they all left. All 6 (7?) of them.

I wouldn’t have thought any more of it, except that the same thing happened today when I played in the solo performance lecture, and apparently I looked a lot like I was going to faint???? And of course, the same thing happened at the beginning of term.

SO, Science Side of the Internet: ????????????

Update: Having talked to various medically up-to-date relatives (i.e. my mother), we’ve come to the conclusion that this was probably an example of a Lightning Migraine (which is less cool than it sounds). Fucking migraines. And I’m allowed to swear in this case because they are pretty flipping inconvenient.

Cheffing With Charlie: Chilli (maybe?)

OK, first all all, I have done enough of these damn things to warrant their own sexy little category. So, here we go: sexy food time. (dear god, someone stop me). Today we’re making… chilli (con carne)! I think it’s chilli con carne anyway, it’s beef and chilli things so who even knows. It’s delicious anyway. Today’s prices sourced from…. waitrose! I suspect everywhere else will be much the same, if not cheaper. You’re welcome.

You Will Need:

500g beef mince (£3.29)
1 can of chopped tomatoes (50p OR if you buy in packs of 4, 37.5p)
1 can of mixed beans in a spicy tomato sauce (£1.00)
Splash of Worcester sauce (negligible)
Stock cube (like 10p?)

Total: £4.665, or more sensibly: £4.67

Method (serves 5):

1. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker. If you’re a fusspot like me, blend the tomato first and then chuck it in. If you’re not a fusspot, don’t bother.

2. Leave the whole glorious mixture for 2-3 hours on high.

3. That’s it!

4. Serve with, rice (probably adds around 60p per portion) or those funky taco shells – you could get creative and use those stand and stuff ones (which are super exciting, let’s be honest)

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you could probably just lob it all in a big sauce pan and then just cook it for about half an hour or so. Have fun, kiddlingtons!



Cheffing with Charlie: Venison Meatballs

OK, picture this. You’re on your own in the house. You’re hungry. The only ingredients you have on hand are a packet of meatballs and enough vegetables to sink the Spanish Armada. What do you do?

Well, first you ask yourself: why do I have nothing else in the cupboard? Once you’re done having a weird existential crisis, you can get on with dinner.

Venison Meatballs and Assorted Vegetables

I hope I’m not the only one who reads that as veggie-tables. (yes? no? maybe?)

You will need (serves 1):

3 venison meatballs (I guess you could substitute any meatball depending on what was actually in your fridge. Or even chopped up sausage, to be perfectly honest)
1 carrot
1/2 a sweet potato
4 mushrooms
A handful of frozen green beans
A dollop of frozen peas
A handful of spinach


1. Peel and finely slice your carrot and sweet potato. Seriously, the finer this gets sliced the better for your cooking efficiency. At the same time, chuck the frozen veg in a microwaveable pot with some water and microwave for 4 minutes

2. Lob the carrot, sweet potato, and meatballs in a well oiled (the veg will soak up a lot of oil, so be generous. plus you can just drain it if you need to) saucepan. I say saucepan because then you can put a lid on it if you want to stop oil spitting, which is always a sensible thing to do. Set the timer for about 12 minutes. STIR THIS REGULARLY

3. Drain the now not-frozen veg, and set aside. Slice up your mushrooms and if you’re feeling a bit weird you can chop up the spinach too, but it’s completely unnecessary so maybe don’t bother

4. If the veg in the pan stop cooking, or start burning, throw some more oil in and stir it so everything’s nicely coated.

5. As the timer wends its way to 3 minutes, throw the mushrooms and previously-frozen vegetables into the pan. Poke the carrot to make sure it’s nicely tender. The carrot is the tricky one, but check the sweet potato too. They will be your limiting factor in terms of cooking time.

6. Once all the vegetables are cooked to your satisfaction, throw the spinach in and stir around a bit. Leave for a minute or so to wilt.

7. Hey presto, you’re done! You could drain everything to get rid of the oil with a sieve, if you feel so inclined. Otherwise, plate up and eat! (and hopefully enjoy)

The Mystery of Nerves

I think it’s safe to say that I’m a very anxious person; I get anxious when I have to talk to people about things, I get anxious when I have to send emails to people, ringing people about things is something I have to literally practice beforehand. So I think it’s interesting that when I’m performing as part of a group I don’t really get nervous at all. Oh, I might get a bit tense if I happen to have a solo, but on the whole I’m calm as a cucumber.

The other day I was recording for an orchestra that I play in. We were essentially recording for about four or five hours followed by a concert in the evening. Weirdly, I was more worried about the recording than I was about the live performance in the evening. At least we could go back and redo the recording if I made some enormous destructive mistake, whereas in the concert if it’s not perfect then there’s nothing you can do about it.

I don’t really know for sure why some concerts make me more anxious than others. Maybe there isn’t really a reason.