Thursday, 29 October 2009

Winter Sunshine

Oh, the view that greeted me this morning as I turned off the Wormit roundabout was breathtaking, the fields rolled out on either side of the road bathed in a sun-kissed winter morning haze; the light was perfect. It looked like an impressionist painting. The river was smooth as glass and the Tayport lighthouse looked full of intrigue and mystery, as lighthouses should! It was a glorious way to start the day, therapy for the soul. Living in Scotland has it's advantages!
Early start after yesterday's disaster! Porridge, coffee and I am at my desk and it is only 09:11!
I just hope next door can keep the noise down today, the last few days have been like carnival time! Unusual for them as they are usually quiet as church mice!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Needles in Haystacks

I found myself in the shower, cheerfully exfoliating when I caught the fleeting glimpse of an idea. A fairly decent idea, one I haven't read anywhere else and one I *think* may provide a substantial part of this chapter I am working on!
Once dressed I hurtled down the stairs to my old friend 'google' and starting typing in fervently for some facts and figures, enough to cast a line up and tether that floating, nebulous idea firmly to the ground - before it drifted off into the ether with all the other good ideas I have had over the past year!

Result - google did it's magic and some things got thrown up in the searches that are actually worthwhile and will definitely be useful in my interpretation. It's a poem by H.D. - now I have the facts, the backgrounds etc all I need to work out is when this poem was written. Oh I can find the poem as it is all over the internet, as poems tend to be, in blogs, archives, literary webpages, scholarly essays, book extracts, anthologies etc etc etc - but not one of them provides that elusive little detail - WHEN DID H.D. WRITE 'AT ITHACA' OR 'EVADNE' ??????

I have a feeling the information I need may well be in one of the books in my office so I may well put it aside for one moment and leaving H.D. out of it attempt to create the nexus of ideas that are surfing on the crest of my brainwaves just now!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Hallowed Halls of Knowledge.

As I arrive at university this morning I just took the time to appreciate exactly where it is I go to work each day, where it is that has accepted me as one of their own"scholars" and where it is that provides me with the materials and means to do what I love to do.
This is one of the oldest universities in Europe - it will be 600 years old in 2013. The town grew from the university which I believe started out as a remote religious monastery, perched on the cliffs of the North Scottish sea.
Inclement weather, rolling waves that roar like thunder and winds that howl like the proverbial banshee mark this place out. You need to be of stern stuff to survive the winter here!
The quads are scattered with golden red leaves as the trees shed their summer mantles to steal themselves against the winter months. The rain is covering everything with a dull gloss, permeating the gold stone to a dark slate colour, a warning of worse to come. But it puts a spring in your step to walk through the quads and hear the walls of this ancient place whisper its secrets to you of history, time and the continuity of life.

It may be raining but where better to be than here, tucked up warm in my office, with my best friends* around me and my laptop humming quietly as I type.

I am very lucky to be here, I am very lucky they will have me and I do want to do them proud.

* of course I am referring to the books!!! It is always ALL about the books!

Monday, 26 October 2009

gender and the things that amuse us feminists!

A friend of mine "facebooked" me this today -
it made me smile!

Monday Morning

... after the clocks went back isn't so bad, and I am not feeling too tired; it feels like I got up an hour later than normal! I made it to the office even though I had a very sleepy, cosy body next to me, that just makes me want to curl up and stay put - well until he snores that is!

The plan for today is to finish reading the book on manifestoes and then get to grips with the actual context of Vorticism.

I haven't had anY residual pangs of anxiety about the meeting with Herr Supervisor, so I can only feel that what I said truly reflected the situation and how I felt about it. I know that I need to pull out a bloody good piece of writing on this next piece or I am in trouble but I am going back to basics on it and making sure it is edited and re-drafted thoroughly before I hand it over!
My neighbour is writing a novel about terrorism on the back of his recent success in getting a book about terrorist organisations published - he has asked me to act as editor and proof reader. This is quite onerous as it isn't a book I would ordinarily even read once it was finished let alone in its infancy - but I couldn't really refuse and it is superb experience. If he does get it published then the fact I edited it is going to be good for the CV!
I have had porridge for breakfast and I have homemade lentil soup for lunch - so good wholesome workhorse fuel for me!
Was asked to share an essay I did today with a guy working on lepidoptery in Woolf so I shall need to dig that out!! Quite flattering as it was at my old tutor's insistence that he read my paper as he would find it informative for his research! Perhaps I should submit it for publication! And this lady is a formidable ally!

My minor whinge for this morning is this - why does the local coffee shop insist on giving me half a cup of coffee and half a cup of froth?? Hmmm and why is they say women are the 'talkers', yet my all male office next door is full of constant babbling!!! IRONY IS ALIVE AND WELL IN STUDENTVILLE THIS MORNING!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Unburdening the soul...

is supposed to be good for you isn't it?

The supervisor's meeting - or the lion's den as I like to think of it - should be sacrosanct like the confessional.
So why does it feel more like shooting myself in the foot?

I took the plunge and was honest about how I felt - this could prove extremely productive or incredibly foolhardy! Time will tell.

Still all in all the meeting was ok! But then they always are - it's only afterwards that I begin to sweat about the ins and outs of the discussion!

One thing is for sure if I don't stop beating myself and start believing in myself I am going to become that old adage the self fulfilling prophecy!!!

Off home for a cup of tea and a hobnob! Sod that - I think I may even be tempted to run the IBs gauntlet and have a glass of wine!

And next week this blog is going to be a hive of bloggertivity! There is so much in this world to be grateful for, worrying over things that haven't happened and may never happen has no place in it!

Th Search Engine...

... is the most important and integral piece of technology to any researcher ... it is meant to be your friend and your ally and to make life EASIER! BE WARNED - it is NOT and it DOES NOT! It is the most bloody infuriating part of research work ever invented! Every web archive runs their search engine on a different criteria, using different methods ( I still have no idea what the term Boolean means - answers on a postcard please!)
Today I have been scouring the electronic resources available to me trying to locate and article written in January 1930 - (or possibly December 1929), supposedly in The Bookman (a London review). I have the title the author's name, the (apparent) publication, issue, date etc etc etc. Oh I can find the publication but now it appears that article is not in that magazine!

So - you begin again, looking to find the actual article, when it was printed and in what publication. It doesn't stop there. If you are able to find these facts then you have to start actually trying to track down a credible copy or edition of the magazine concerned or a reprint of the article in an anthology. This usually results in one copy in the bowels of a single library in Arkansas - why Arkansas? I have no idea but it seems that most British literary archives somehow make their way over the pond to the greater United States of America!

This is all well and good - if you can find out the facts in the first place. Searching through an archive online is a precarious business. It will allow you to search via all sorts of criteria - ostensibly! But let's face things full on here, do they actually work? Not often.

Today I entered this criteria in a search engine for the Partisan Review 'The Story of the Little Magazines' - entered 'article title' and got back no results. Which is to be expected... but then in insolently red italic lettering is the question - Do you mean the mystery of the missing princess?


No I bleeding well don't you imbecilic patronising bloody excuse for a search engine! If I had meant 'the mystery of the missing princess' the chances are I would have not put in 'the story of the little magazines'! would I?!?

And breath!

As if it isn't bad enough that finding the resources in the first place is hard enough or that my macbook has decided not to load -EVER -that the one archive I use nearly everyday on line, or that the library has very little in the way of resources other than electronic databases - NOW I HAVE TO PUT UP WITH BEING PATRONISED BY THE BLOODY SEARCH ENGINES AS WELL!!!!!

And yes, another deep breathe needed!

So I am back to square one - the book isn't clearly referenced as to where it got its information from, the google search throws up an inaccurate reference sending me on a wild goose chase, and all in all for 2 hours work I have NOTHING! NADA! NIENTE! ZILCH! ZERO!

In summary - what a load of old bollocks!

Of course I could be 'doing it wrong' .... hmmmmmmmm

Still, for a moment there I forgot all about my IBS! ;)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

A Dreary Week of Nothingness

A bout of IBS (yes finally I know what's been causing this periodic 'ill' feeling) several trips to the doctors, new medication and extreme discomfort and tiredness have made this week pretty unproductive. I had plans big plans but lethargy and headaches and abdominal pain had other ideas.
I've manage a bit of reading and I am seeing the supervisor tomorrow, after having to postpone Monday! I am going to see if I can come up with a plan for a 20,000 word 'mini' thesis. Focusing on Blast's gendering! It's complex gender identity, the obliteration of Eve, a concept of androgyny that disregards all things feminine, including women, to create a wholly male society is worthy of exploring.
Also the strange anomaly in the way in which RW's work ended up being included and was in fact the only inclusion of women's writing or art also raises questions. It was the only literary piece that satisfied WL.
The Vorticist aesthetic is a complex one, as it was short lived and faded fast into obscurity as the real life violence and blasting of the first War took precedence in the social psyche.

Now if can only come up with something more concrete for tomorrow's meeting I think I may have the next three months sorted. I'll suggest a deadline of January and ask if I can submit a portion of it to her before Christmas for her to just look over and see if it's going in the right direction.

One thing that could help kick start this day of planning would be - if I got dressed!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Sunday *Bloody* Sunday

A day of rest! Aye right!
Once you've shopped, cooked, served, eaten and cleared it's time for bed. That plus having to endure the sound of F1 cars circling a track repeatedly like a swarm of angry hornets with nothing to sting - my head is throbbing!

Tomorrow supervisor meeting!! Ho Hum! WHy do I always feel like I have been summonsed to the headmistresses office!!!!

Friday, 16 October 2009

The 'DAY OFF".

... isn't going too well, this blasted headache won't shift! I have a doctor's appointment at 350 pm but my faith in the medical profession is pretty low. Although I am seeing a new female doctor! So there may well be hope!

Having decided to set aside the books for the weekend to spend sometime with my kids I am not forced to negotiate appointments instead. The best laid plans and all that!

Still the holidays haven't been too bad - the kids seem to have been happy to bumble along by themselves most of the time and I have got my lounge painted and the downstairs loo was freshened up - so things have been achieved!

It's my mum's birthday today - I wish I was with her. So far away! :(

The books are beckoning to me - I have a plan for the next couple of months that just needs discussing with SS ( the supervisor not the Nazi police force! Although sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the two!) so roll on Monday's meeting!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

A day of two halves

Well today was the first forum session of the semester. A good turn out and three papers, all of which were thought provoking and stimulating. Although hit is never a good thing when your tummy is rumbling all the way through the session - barely audible but still threatening to let a roaring growl out at some inappropriate moment of stillness!

And not only was the session fairly successful - if you discount the miniscule response in the Q&A (must work on the formatting of this session to get more discussion going) - but I came back to discover a friend on Facebook had blogged a cartoon from a site called PHD - piled higher and deeper - a humorous site looking at the life and times of PhD students. Now life isn't perfect , the site is American! Like everything in life you can't escape the stateside effect - but it is FUNNY!!!!!

That makes me sound like am a bit anti American, nothing could be further than the truth! I'd happily move there tomorrow if they'd have me! But the humour can sometimes be very different and I don't often find American 'funnies' all that, well, funny! But this site is -well for lack of a better word - funny! :D

I am so limited in my knowledge of what's 'out there' - other people are all clued up on their researching resources, their humour, their social life - and yet I am like Moses in the wilderness waiting for some divine pronouncement to lift me from the mediocrity!!

AH! Slowly slowly - I'll get there!

Epiphany moment in forum regarding the structure and approach to the 3rd chapter on Blast!!! Hopefully I am getting there!

Monday, 5 October 2009

The decisions we take...

... can have far reaching consequences. I made the move to a different university to do my masters because I thought it would be good for both my cv and my own personal development. I initially thought it was the best decision all round as I seemed to have landed on my feet, in a very supportive and nurturing academic environment.
However over the last year or so I get this increasing unease that I am the face that doesn't fit - the round peg in the square hole, the odd one out. I am occupying a liminal space!
True I am a slow burner and my progress isn't as explosive as some but I work hard and have commitment which deserves some recognition.
I keep hearing about supervisors who take their students out for lunch or coffee or drinks and yet I get an interview in a sterile office, with a luke warm cup of over brewed coffee if I am lucky - sometimes I don't even get offered that. Plus I get the sense that it will never be any different.
After Saturday's relative success I felt more at home with my old tutors ( all of whom turned out) than I ever have where I am ...

One of my old tutors made the effort to take me to one side to tell me how much she had enjoyed my writing, and how she knew I would make a successful career out of academia; she recalled one essay I wrote as brilliant. She is a leading expert in the feild I work in and responsible in many respects for me following the path I am. I am beginning to wonder if my time here is having more of a detrimental effect than a good one, seeing as the last time I got any praise was over 18 months ago. There is far too much stick and not enough carrot.
Is it too late to think I made a mistake and change back? Or would I be merely running away? I am always up for a fight but as I seem to be able to do nothing right where I am, I am wondering if I am wasting my time and energy even trying?

So today is a pretty shit day - once again feeling like I will never belong to anything!

I feel like I have run out of brilliance. Clearly I am having a bad day!

Friday, 2 October 2009


Never in the English- pardon me - SCOTS language was a better word invented than that of 'driech'.
It can cover a multitude of matters from the weather to your mood, from the colour of a worn out old raincoat to the jaded attitude of a worn out old hack.
Today - is 'dreich'.
Melancholy, grey, damp round the edges, today has the feel of damp mouldy washing, that never quite dried, left to fester on an airer in a cold room, denied the benefit of being kissed dry by a warm sun. Dank. Mouldy. October.

Is it any wonder that the faces of folk you pass look like slack bleached sack cloth, pock marked with the chill, eyes sunken, blacked and bagged with the weary knowledge that we have months of this ahead.

Dreary. Having to drag chilly bones from the enveloping warmth of a feather down quilt, still emanating the collected body heat of the night's rest - or in my case unrest!

Insomnia - is dreich. It's tiresome, tedious, monotonous, soul-draining, and incomprehensible. Why when your body is sagging with tiredness, and your mouth is clawed by un-stifflable yawns do you lay on your bed awake, for hours, watching the florescent numbers of the alarm clock liquidly morph from 2 to 3 to 4, each hour bringing you closer to the inevitable, respite denied. Sleep deprivation is never good but it can be endured if there is an understandable reason for it. Such as when you have an infant squalling for milk at 3 am, or a sick child running a temperature, or an exam the next day which you feel under prepared for, or an essay which is a 1000 words short of its limit, but when it seems a matter of your own mind working against you - for no justifiable cause or reason - it sucks!

I make no apology for today's dreichness, or my own dreichness for that matter. I am tired. Headachey, tired and weary. It wouldn't have been so bad if, after an endless night, the sun had deigned to make its presence felt ... but no. I am clearly experiencing Dante's inferno... the question is a matter of simply working out exactly which level of hell I am on.

Thursday, 1 October 2009


A big shout out to the lady who has been labouring away to provide me with a less generic look - My blog has been Gok'ed! Instead of wearing the loose elasticated bloomers provided by blogger, it's now cinched into the blog equivalent of agent provocateur!

A little dash of racy purple, unctuous pink and a tickle of a feather quill never hurt anyone!

No, it isn't perfect! Nothing in life ever is , it is always a case of a little tweak here, a little pinch there until it 'fits' and you feel 'yes I can live with that!

If we were talking in analogies (or cliches) here I would equate the current template as 'Daddy Bear's Bed' with me as Goldilocks - I have a few more beds to try out before it will feel just right!

If Carling wrote Blog Titles...

... they would be THE most interesting blog titles ever.
Headache GO AWAY!
I am ploughing my way through the reading - my ideas of yesterday have all gone squoosh in my brain and feel very wobbly!
However the sun is shining! Yeah!
However I am not in my office. Boo!
It's too damn dark and dreary and the florescent light is making my head worse!

Complaint of the day - US SPELLCHECKERS!! I am British - I am not a nationalist and I am not a fundamental Britain is best type of chick - I adore most things pond-side BUT, BUT, BUT, WHY FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS CHOCOLATEY DO WE HAVE TO HAVE U.S. SPELLCHECKER AS A DEFAULT! I am too old to suddenly drop double letters, add z's instead of s's and , miss out u's! I spell things CORRECTLY and up they pop as a mistake... then the doubt sets in? Have I actually misspelt the word? Is it that spelling - or is that an American spelling? Quibble, Quibble, Quibble!
It is slowly driving me insane - even when I CHOOSE UK spellchecker it defaults back to bloody U.S.!!!

As if it isn't hard enough writing all this goobledegook without needing to double, triple, quadruple check that your darned spellchecker is on the right setting!!!!

I once, in a very tired state, re-edited and entire piece because between edits, the computer, with a mind of its own, changed the default dictionary back to U.S. !!!!!!!!