Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Invigilation and Blackwells

Been up to various little things today, so this is going to be a long, rambling and egocentric post. If you don’t like it, don’t read!

I went into town for the first time in a week or so. I was quite surprised by the number of people in college. Had a quick word with Nick, Ed and Emily in the GCR at lunch time, though I couldn’t stop long.

The reason I was in was to attend a training session for people to invigilate undergraduate exams. That was supposed to be 2-4, but turned out to be something of a joke. It was about 15 minutes going through OHP slides, and another 15 of questions, and that was all!

The questions threw up some important issues actually, like that we had to wear sub-fusc too. But then, it’s up to us to enforce the dress code. The lady told us about people they’d had last year who would dye their hair a different colour each day, or girls who wore hipster jeans with bare midriffs (technically still sub-fusc imho), or people who wore white trainers or girls with no black stocking (technically not sub-fusc, even if they’re in trousers I think) We even went into socks – I distinctly remember being mildly distracted in one exam by the fact someone next to me had blue socks, which caught the corner of my eye every time they crossed their legs.

Since that was over so quick, I went and explored Blackwells – think I must have been in there about 2 hours. Partly because I bumped into Faik and Jussi (from Reading), neither of whom I’d seen in at least a couple of weeks.

The other matter was I wanted some books – which typically involved me visiting the politics, philosophy, law and economics sections of the Norrington room. Despite all that, it turned out I missed the one book they did have in stock, because it was under ‘general law’ not ‘jurisprudence’ (though having found this, I quickly found the book, despite also being filed under B not D)

I ended up placing orders for Arrow, Buchanan and Tullock, Elster, and Goodwin. I’ve read Arrow cover to cover already anyway, but it’s a classic that will be useful to refer to. (Since I’ve just written an essay on collective rationality, I’m quite familiar with the passage on p.120 quoted in three of the other books/articles I’m using, but I really need to look up IIA again…) The others I’ve glanced at, but really should have read properly by now.

The purchase took so long because not only did I have to order the books, but I wanted to use a college prize – which involves taking in a letter, swapping it for vouchers, and then buying the books. And asking them to get the books franked with the college crest too (optional, but nice)

It turned out most of the staff weren’t really sure of the procedure. I spoke to at least four in the course of all this (even having to go up to customer services on the second floor, only to be sent back to the basement). The young guy from the philosophy section really didn’t know what to do – but excusably so – and was particularly helpful (running off to ask a supervisor three times). In the end the order was handled by a very beautiful girl at the main Norrington room desk, which made it all worthwhile. I’ve noticed her before. I bet they get more customers with her serving… ;)

I think I got a bit swindled on the reward card, because she took the £5 straight off my current purchase, and thereby cost me a another stamp on my silver card (which I think I should’ve got anyway), but since it’s all college money I’m not too bothered.

The only problem is, despite the satisfactory feeling I’ve spent a lot of money in a book shop, I’ve neither spent the money (well, I spent £30 with £60 to come) nor got the books yet…

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