Getting some balance back into my life

A special issue of the Independent was dedicated to Madiba's memory.

A special issue of the Independent was dedicated to Madiba’s memory.

Well, this has been a very eventful week. First, I’ve learned the results of two assignments and they were good. I’m sure I mentioned this earlier in my blog but for each of my modules, I have two assignments and my mark for each module is determined by how well I do in the assignments. I have work due tomorrow (December 9), the 16th and 23rd – so obviously this will be a busy month. But I’m confident I’ll do well.

Claudia and Jorge - the birthday boy on the right

Claudia and Jorge – the birthday boy on the right

Unfortunately, I’ve lacked a social life in the past couple of weeks. Mainly because I’ve devoted more time to assignments. But this week has been eventful. First, the joker of my course, Jorge, celebrated his birthday on Monday (December 2). Unfortunately, because it was a Monday night and we were all busy with assignments, it was a relatively low key night. But a night at Headingley Taps with a beer or two is always fun.

Not a common sight relatively close to my flat

Not a common sight relatively close to my flat

Two days later, my section of Leeds was thrust into the national spotlight – and not for the best of reasons. While I was walking to one of my lectures, there were several police cars in front of a house near the Co-Operative grocery store ( a five minute walk from my flat). Obviously, several police cars – in addition to two policemen holding machine guns in plain sight – in an area means something bad has happened.

And well, a police officer was shot. Fortunately, her injuries were not life threatening. But the shooting was big news across the country and it was the lead story on the BBC’s website. Click below for the link:

Man arrested after West Yorkshire Police officer shot in Leeds

Although the shooting happened in the morning, there was still an ITV van near the scene of the crime well into the evening. If an incident like this happened in the States near my house, I would be scared. I’m not fearful or even worried for my safety (although I pass the scene of the crime all the time). But it was just strange a police officer was shot so close to my flat.

Anyway, onto better news: Yesterday, I completed my ninth Park Run and I set a personal best: 17:06. In addition, I finished second, my highest finish ever in a Park Run. I’m obviously pleased with my time and place (The winner of yesterday’s Park Run was so far ahead of everyone else – he had basically won the race after 200 meters) but I’m also pleased I beat this dude named Matthew who is always one of the top finishers in the Park Run. I recorded a faster chip time than him in the Abbey Dash but I was never able to beat him in the Park Run. Until yesterday.

Me, Allison and Ben at the Hyde Park Harriers' Christmas party

Me, Allison and Ben at the Hyde Park Harriers’ Christmas party

Last night, the Hyde Park Harriers held their Christmas Party. Not surprising considering this is the time of year for Christmas parties. But the surprising thing was… it was held in a nightclub named Tiger Tiger. A nightclub seems to be an odd place for a Christmas party. Actually, everyone ate first. I wanted to come for the meal but I signed up (or expressed interest) too late. Which is not a bad thing because the meal cost £30 and – at least, according to Allison – it wasn’t delicious enough to justify shelling out £30.

Anyway, several Harriers were there, which was great because I learned some names (although it can be difficult to have a good conversation in a setting with thumping music). And being a nightclub, there was a lot of dancing going on. The music was hit-and-miss (sometimes, the DJ would play great music to dance to and then… I would be thinking, “Why did he play that song?”), but I was kinda happy the party setting was a nightclub because it was fun to get a night of dancing in. Although maybe next time, we should chose a restaurant as the venue for the party.

Today has mostly been spent studying but I did make time to see an interesting documentary named Muscle Shoals at the Hyde Park Picture House (which is near my flat). Muscle Shoals is a small town in northern Alabama that is extraordinarily significant in music history – it’s home to a recording studio where legends such as Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin and countless others have recorded hit records. I had heard the name Muscle Shoals in the song Sweet Home Alabama but I never knew it was (a) a town and (b) one of the most important places in music history. There is actually a “Muscle Shoals sound,” which is a bit difficult to describe. But it’s amazing that this little, seemingly nothing town has played a major role in music history. While some parts of the documentary were a bit slow, I enjoyed it.

One of the many places in the UK that pay tribute to Madiba

One of the many places in the UK that pay tribute to Madiba

As you all know, the great Nelson Mandela passed away earlier this week at the age of 95. While there is really nothing I can say about him that hasn’t already been said (As I have never visited South Africa, I am unable to provide a firsthand experience of being on Robben Island or in any other significant places in that country’s history), I can tell you that Madiba had links to Leeds. He visited the city in 2001 and was made an honorary freeman of the city. A section of Millennium Square was renamed the Mandela Garden and there is a building in town named the Mandela Centre. Below is a video of Madiba’s visit to Leeds:

In the Mandela Garden

In the Mandela Garden

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