The Art of Doing Nothing

Miss Ambitious Cook is just one of many of SWOTVAC's fun-filled characters

SWOTVAC is more than just a clumsy acronym; it’s arguably the most memorable week on the academic calendar.

University administrators are infamous for capitalising on the so-called “vacation” by taking the opportunity to smother their scholastic children with an Everest of work. Their side of the bargain is evident in that oft-heard disclaimer, intentionally voiced at the final second of the last class before break; “By the way everyone, I won’t be checking my emails over the next week. I’ll be in the Bahamas.”

They want to make us jealous. But they have no idea.

While the burdensome workload we inherit may deny us the privilege of leaving the house or enjoying those summer-holiday-esque parties we all say we’re going to have, there is a silver lining in the stormy cloud of SWOTVAC. And it comes in the form of nothingness.

For the only week of the calendar year, we’re given the chance to sample the life of dole bludger. There are no parties to crash or social gatherings to distract us. Our part-time employers, meanwhile, think we’re still at Uni and thus don’t bother to give us extra shifts. All there is is just you and your assignment(s). Spent together at home, sweet home.

Admittedly, the assignments are living hell. No one should ever have to write 2500 words, let alone 4000, about any one topic. Nothing on this planet is that interesting. Yet Major Essay is only one of our SWOTVAC companions. He may consume a few studious hours of our day, but his presence is easily negated by the other holiday guests.


Mr Sleep-In
Notorious for burning timetables, Mr Sleep-In lets us play by your own rules. No longer do we have to get to bed by 11 or 12. Nor do we have to awake at 7 o’clock for that 10am lecture. Best of all, we no longer have to feel guilty about pressing Snooze. Time is no longer a crucial element, but an abstract entity. Thus, the shackles imposed by the incessant demands of Ms Alarm Clock are no longer relevant. And given that we were probably awake til 3am the night before – scrolling through a trivial journal article about the mating patterns of mosquitoes – we probably deserve to be ignoring Ms Alarm Clock anyway.

Mrs Pyjamas
Welcome to the world where nobody judges you on your fashion sense. Mr Pyjamas doesn’t mind that you’re wearing that daggy blue jumpsuit from Grade 6. Sure, it’s three sizes too small, ripped at the collar and probably carrying a few linen-related diseases, but it’s comfortable and does exactly what it’s supposed to do – cover up nakedness. Master Wardrobe may feel like he’s not getting much love, but that vain narcissist isn’t worth listening to anyway.

Miss Ambitious Cook
Deep inside of us all, we know that we’re all Masterchefs. Miss Cook reaffirms this notion and happily passes us the frying pan. Sir Smoke Alarm and Dr Fire Extinguisher may disapprove of our efforts, but the point is that we tried… and it tasted great. Sure, Reverend Food Poisoning is bound to pop in for a visit the next day, but that shouldn’t of concern. After all, Ms Cook is one feisty individual, and nobody’s capable of quelling her aspirations.

Ray, of Sunshine
While Ms Pyjamas may convince us to stay indoors, you can’t beat good ol’ Ray. It’s easy to get cramped up in that essay-ridden shell of ours, but that minute-long conversation with Ray brings a smile to any SWOTVACer’s face. We may not run into him every day, but when he’s around he makes those precious seconds of retrieving the newspaper, closing the gate, or picking up some fast food last forever.

Sister Sitcom
Who says you can’t finish a whole season of Flight of the Conchords in a single week. Sister Sitcom certainly doesn’t. In fact, she’s the one sitting next to us on the couch, laughing at every gag. The beauty of the Sister is that she always finds a way to fit in one more episode. It doesn’t matter if Major Essay still wants 1000 more words from our cyber-cereberums; Ms Sitcom can persuade, regardless of the context, that The Simpsons may provide an ounce of extra inspiration. She’s never right. But everyone knows not to argue with her logic.

Grandma Google
Like her nephew Father Facebook, the Grandma is always determined to exploit our vague intentions. While she “knows” that we’re only paying her a visit because we want the definition of “betwixt”, she’ll nevertheless manage to hook us in with one of her crafty ploys. Before we know it, we’re looking at cartoon dinosaurs cracking jokes to one another, or listening to some insane a capella group from Canada. I don’t know how she does it. But she’s a genius.

Private Horrible Facial-Hair
Banned from making appearances during term time, Private Facial-Hair revels in the short break. He may make us look disgustingly unattractive and even slightly sleazy, but it’s all in good fun.  While Colonel Mirror may tempt you to keep the Private by your side even when the semester resumes, don’t be fooled; the moment that girl sees your new hairdo will be the last moment you ever see her. So while the temporary liberation-cum-grotesqueness may satisfy your fingertips, it’s vital that even the photographic remnants of your mug’s latest atrocity become destined for the furnace.

King Royal Wedding
Not to be confused with Captain Completely-Pointless-Event-That-We-Would-Otherwise-Not-Care-About or Prince Logies, the King lures us in by rigging Facebook updates so that they all point in his direction. We don’t seem to notice this subtle scheme until 9pm, when we realise that we too are contributing to the Facebook claptrap. But that doesn’t matter; the King is all about a bit of fun. A bit of fun that we would otherwise choose to ignore.

These characters – along with Sgt The-Fact-That-School-Holidays-Do-Not-Coincide-With-Our-Break  – are the individuals that make SWOTVAC so special. The sad thing is that, in a day or two’s time, they’ll all be gone. Mr Sleep In may continue to hang out with the Arts students, and Grandma Google may still invite us to her house. But other than that, it’s back to the real world.

With that in mind, I better start work on my 2500 word essay on mosquito mating.