Yeah, I don't know if it's technically possible to "improve" something that doesn't exist. I have school stuff once a week and everybody tends to go the pub afterwards and chats for an hour or so. And that's it. Oh, and I meet my supervisor every other week. So basically, on Wednesday, I speak with people. And for a few minutes in the afternoons when i walk Xena in the park. the rest of the week, I turn down the heater and avoid my housemates who want to know why it's so cold in the house. ("Because it's winter" is not an answer. Anyway. I'm a bad housemate.)
Today, I took Xena to the vet. We got to take a nice long walk. And when I got there, I got to speak with the receptionists and the vet and there was joking around. The British sense of humor is fantastic. But, alas, it's probably not a good long term plan to hang around the vet's office. Although, I have to return in three weeks to get the second course of shots for Xena. She's got a shiny new RFID chip and her limping is caused by arthritis. Because she's old. But I can take her to the continent in May and back in June and it shouldn't be a problem.
On the way home I walked past a Quaker meeting house. I'd never seen an actual, dedicated brick building for them. I went to take a closer look. It had a bust of a member of the Cadbury family on the side of it. (Cadbury's candy company is based in Birmingham, something that would have brought me great joy as a child if I'd known I'd one day live her. Also, they have giant goose-egg sized cream eggs in the grocery store. Which I really don't want to eat, but I feel like a traitor to myself at age 8 if I don't, since I thought this was the highest form of food item that anyone could ever want. Anyway.) So I went to take a picture of the Cadbury bust and a woman came out to ask me what I was doing tromping around the outside of her meeting house. She explained that it had been built by the Cadbury family, as, indeed, had been most of the village surrounding. Most of the cottages had been built to house chocolate factory workers. It sounds quite a bit like industrial serfdom - the benefacting owner gives homes and worship places to adequately docile workers. And in exchange, they put a bust of him on the church, or rather, he does it. I said he must have been very humble to put a bust of himself on the church. Apparently, I haven't quite got the hang of the British sense of humor.
This could be a way to meet other folks my age. Church! Except I have a hard time believing that the universe was created by a sentient being who can read my mind and cares deeply whether or not I masturbate. This weeds out most religions, including the gay churches like the MCC. Does those even exist in the UK? But Quakers! I could become a Quaker, since they don't believe in anything either, right? I explained to the woman how much I respect and admire the peace activism of Quakers in the US. So she started explaining some differences between American and English Quakers. This particular meeting house has an organ and a preacher. Which sounds alarmingly hierarchical, although I do like the organ. I need a religion of anarchist atheists.
Or, I could just join an anarchist group. (Stop making bad jokes and go read up on the political philosophy. Sheesh.) When and where do they meet? Do they have a webpage? Maybe there's a student group?
My uni is huge. There's three banks that I know of on campus. Two grocery stores. Three bars. That I know of, and I'm not very familiar with the campus. I was scoping out the web page for the Guild of Students and they said they serve the very large post grad population. ("Post grad" is British for "grad student.") So when the LGBTQ group said they were having a movie, I decided to go. February was Queer History Month in the UK. Don't they know that's for Black people? I'm sensing a trend where when a country is grudgingly forced to admit that a despised minority has been integral to their development, they give them the shortest month of the year. So I went to the movie and was the oldest person in the room by several years. Chatting with 18 year olds does make me less lonely, but I dunno. I didn't talk much, actually. I was a mysterious, older foreign man. The women acted fascinated by me. The movie was cosponsored by the Jewish group, so I don't know if they were queer or not, but the respect they immediately afforded me was a bit disconcerting. Or maybe I was totally misreading it and they wondered why this older, um, guy(?) had wandered in.
Ok, so maybe not student organizations, so much. Or, at least, not primarily.
But the answer is obvious. The local music scene! Institutes of higher ed are so funny in that they tend to be right in the middle of a thriving local arts scene -that they're totally disconnected from. So how do I get connected?