Link to: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine

Space School UK: downtime, day 1

Link to:
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine (The Critical Conclusion)

Food, coffee and hairdryers

The next lecture, Flight to the Stars, was generally accepted as one of the best. Not much to say, except for the fact that I've heard that the idea of a Bussard Ramscoop to collect hydrogen for fusion into helium during an interstellar flight is, well, stupid. You'd need something like 200,000 tonnes of reactant. Back to the drawing board, methinks.

The cafeteria dinner was surprisingly good. The only downside to this was that it was only on the penultimate day that I found out that we were allowed to get ice-creams for free. Such a wasted opportunity. I was suicidal, I tell you. You'll never find me passing on a free ice-cream again, mark my words.

About food. A number of girls who I met (you know who you are) didn't eat anything during Space School. OK, they ate maybe a bread roll or something, but that doesn't count. I mean, they'd have cereal for breakfast.


That is despicable. Cereal is excusable when you either:

a) Are on a diet. And none of these people were on a diet.

b) Don't have anything else to eat.

The second option is not true. I ask you, dear reader, if you would pass up a free English fry-up breakfast. Yes, I'll concede that the enormous amounts of oil have probably clogged up every single one of my arteries and I now only have a few hours left to live, but, I mean, it's a free fry-up. How can you not have a free fry-up?

I tell you now, some of these girls didn't eat anything. One girl in particular, as matter of fact... <sound of someone getting hit viciously> Argh - don't do that. It's only a joke! <sound of sarcastic laughing> Yes, a harmless joke. <muffled whispering>. Well, fine, if you're going to be like that, I won't say anything. Fine.


The moral of the story, is that if someone else is paying and cooking, eat all you can. I'm not the slimmest person around, but I'm not exactly obese, so I know what I'm talking about, yes I do.

Telescopes in Space was so-so. If you were a stargazer, no, damnit, an astronomer, then you'd find it interesting. I'm not.

So anyway, here is the most tense time of the whole week. After the last lecture of the night, everyone fled off to the kitchens in the Halls of Residence. Tense, because no-one really knows anyone well. However, it went well, and everyone had a fun time playing cards (at least, that was what I was doing).

Chase the Ace. No other game inspires so much terror in people. You know the time when you get the ace in your hand, and the person who gave it to you is shouting praise to God, dancing around happily, while you collapse, a broken shell of your former self, defeated? And you're hoping that the next person will take it off you? And they don't?

It's a tense, tense game.

A nice trick to play, as we did, was to keep who had the ace quiet. Then you could pass it around the entire table, up to an unsuspecting victim (we'll call him Percolator, for anonymity's sake). Percolator is quite happy - after all, he just got rid of the ace his last turn, and it can't possibly be coming around again, so soon? Surely not? Surely he would have noticed the expressions on his opponent's faces?

So there he is, without a care in the world, taking a card from the person before him. Percolator casually looks at it. Then looks at it again. The ace. He falls back in his chair, a defeated and beaten man, while the rest of the table cackles evilly. This is what Chase the Ace is about. Being nasty.


5/9/99: I recently received an email from 'Percolator' pertaining to the Chase the Ace incident. His own words:

"Hi there!, I read your acount, it was cool, and you BASTARD!!!, I was really trying to win at chase the ace!!"

Obviously, I know nothing of this. How could anyone suspect poor me to have had anything at all to do with Percolator's downfall at the card game in question? For shame <g>


I can't really remember much of what else happened. I recall hot chocolate being served by Percolator, who seemed to love doing this. Hot, boiling chocolate, being served in thin, plastic cups. Whoops. These plastic cups consequently melted. Never mind, eh?

Oh, and there was the person who managed to get on a sugar-high, and poured a bag of sugar over Percolator. Why? we asked. 'Because she told me to,' says, the sugar-high girl, pointing at someone else. O-kay.

Then I went to sleep.

I will take this opportunity to tell you about the rooms we stayed in. Contrary to the popular opinion of the Space School attendees, most Halls of Residence do not have en-suite facilities. We were very lucky indeed to get a shower in each of our rooms. A shower that worked.

With a shower comes the ventilator fan, a cause of common complaint. I would regularly hear stories about how people were kept up by their ventilator fan humming well after they'd turned the shower light off. And then there was the peculiar story of how someone was woken up at 3 AM by their hair dryer switching itself on. I tell you now, that would have severely freaked me out.

This hair dryer also featured in another story. This person, who for simplicity's sake I'll call 'Commoner' (it's a joke, OK? Don't take it personally, man. Sorry. There, I've apologised, so I can use it now. And if you don't like it, email me, I'll take it down).

So, Commoner tells that s/he had locked their door, after the cleaners had visited. When Commoner gets back to his/her room, s/he finds her hair dryer disassembled on the floor in a neat pile. Interesting, no? As I said, there are many weird people in Space School. More about those weird people later, though. Commoner, by the way, was not weird. S/he was a very likable person who, incredibly, was interested in Mars.

How is this possible, I wondered in incredulity. I'd been under the impression that I was in fact the only teenager in the UK who was interested in Mars, but no, there was someone else. That alone almost made Space School worth the extortionate £199 (OK, not really that extortionate), just by itself. It certainly made my day, as it was.


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