Contributor to “journals of a pandemic”

Further to my “Stitching a Lockdown Journal” blogpost, I was recently invited to contribute to Journals of a Pandemic, so I wrote a special posting for them which you won’t find here on my own blog.

To read it, click here:-

Stitching a Lockdown Journal


I decided to stitch a record of this unique and very unsettling episode in our lives.  The intention was to stitch an entry every day, but it has proved rather too time-consuming to achieve that goal.  Nonetheless, I have stitched quite a few entries … and we’re not unlocked yet!

Here is a quick record of where I’ve got to, “sew” far …

DISCLAIMER: I am a musicologist, not a textiles expert!

Queen Elizabeth stitched this as a book-cover when she was only 11. Her needlework skills were somewhat ahead of mine!
The book is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
A political commentary

But on the 27th May, I hit a problem. I had bought tartan cotton with the aim of reproducing a book cover – but my satin stitch wasn’t up to the challenge. I ripped it out (twice) and sewed a wee tartan monster instead. (I blogged about this elsewhere – it was to document my reading about early 20th century tartanry and kitsch.)

The inspiration…

Still thinking about publisher James S. Kerr (quite possibly now owned by someone else – I won’t go into details here!), I tried to represent their Berkeley Street door …

79 Berkeley Street Glasgow

I made some greetings cards before returning to the journal again. This time I had taken advantage of a sunny weekend and the opportunity to Ronseal the garden bench! Prosaic, but essential!

Applied Ronseal wood treatment to the garden bench.

Connecting the Dots in the “Teaching-Research Nexus”

A blogpost recommended by Advance HE

Sitting at home during lockdown, my time is split between librarianship and research, 70:30.  It’s easy to forget that I have a PGCert and actually relish the teaching aspect of my role every bit as much as the data-crunching. So I am grateful to Advance HE for sharing this blogpost from David Smith, National Teaching Fellow.  It helps me feel connected, and to remember to think about pedagogy in more ways than simply supportintg online learning.

via Connecting the Dots in the “Teaching-Research Nexus”

New Song for Earth Day 2020: Extinction Calypso

A few months ago, I wrote a song, Extinction Calypso.  Singing librarian friend Ruth Carlyle, accompanied by music teacher/researcher David Barton, kindly tried it out for me, and here’s their recording – released on SoundCloud for Earth Day 2020:-

Extinction Calypso

The rather striking illustration is by Ruth’s husband Nic, her resident artist.

Transformations in Scottish Song

Last November, I took sick-leave after surgery, which meant that I was unable to give a couple of lectures in person.  One, sadly, just had to get cancelled.  (It was for an external organisation – I was very disappointed!)

However, I did manage to pre-record the lecture I was scheduled to give for the Traditional Music department and other students selecting a particular option.  I prepared and practised diligently, had it recorded by our expert recording engineer, and shared it with the colleague who would be disseminating it.  So far, so good.  Later on, I shared the link on the library portal, and patted myself on the back for efficiency.

It appears that, despite my best efforts, the link wasn’t accessible to everyone.  I tried again the other day, with the kind and patient assistance of an IT technician.  Everything seemed good.  Fine, I thought.  THIS time I’ve got it right.

I looked today, and the link wasn’t there at all.  In a last desperate attempt, I double-checked all access permissions and asked my niece to see if the video was visible.  Not the portal this time, just the link to the video.

It wasn’t.  I’m not spending more time fiddling with it, but I still think that if an academic head of department thought it worth sharing with his students, then there’s no harm in putting it where more people might be able to enjoy it.  Suffice to say, I have migrated it to YouTube, where it sits looking perfectly normal and accessible.  I can only share the link here, but allow me to present ….



After a week’s working from home, I have had a couple of weeks’ “staycation”.  I always intended to remain in Glasgow, but I hadn’t imagined I’d be remaining secluded in our own home!

2020-03-26 23.19.37

Still, I’ve enjoyed the time to indulge my creativity.  My stitched journal leaves have come on apace, and when I tired of sewing, I composed.  Since the weekend, I’ve written a Christian song (something of a 1970s rock gospel vibe, but – hey, that’s just how it came out) – followed by a tricky oboe etude, and then this evening, a slow Scottish waltz for my borrowed concertina.  My resident critic calls it “predictable”,  though I was quite satisfied with it.  Whilst I am a bit hesitant about my compositions – they’re not remotely clever or avant-garde, tend to be short, and are really no more than competent – it’s something I enjoy doing, and find it really easy to immerse myself in the creativity.

So here we are:-

As for the stitched journal?  I haven’t managed to stitch an entry every single day.  For one thing, it’s meant to be fun, rather than obligatory – but the main problem is that it takes time sewing the captions, which have become a bit of a chore, to be honest!  Someone asked if I would be making a quilt with all these pieces.  Well, I don’t know.  I had intended to make another cloth book like the one I made at the end of the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall research network project, but I suspect I’ll end up with too many “days” for a book, so perhaps a quilt might be better.  On the other hand, I’ve used felt for  a couple of entries, and it won’t machine-wash.  I might have stitched myself into a bit of a corner …?

2020-04-05 20.35.23

Working From Home

A week ago, I headed home half way through the day to organise my alcove desk for working from home.  Caring for a vulnerable partner meant I needed to head home before the Conservatoire actually closed at the end of the week.  I agonized the whole previous weekend about making myself unpopular and deserting my team-mates, but my prime responsibility is to keep family healthy. No-one else can do that.

FB_IMG_1584868346274Microsoft Teams? Got it. Email queries, networking in connection with the EveScores project and the impending closure, tweeting about the closure … no-one needs to worry that I wasn’t genuinely working from home.  Indeed, I suspect my research time got slightly nibbled into by all the networking. Hopefully it will balance out.

20200323_170320I decided I needed a couple of projects to do in my NON-WfH hours. I SHALL be competent on the concertina by the end of this, and I shall have documented the whole WfH episode in a hand-stitched journal.

Luckily I have a fortnight’s annual leave now – talk about a staycation  – so I can catch up and even make a head start!

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Musicologist and Pedagogue trapped in a librarian's body. I'm qualified in music, librarianship and education. I began this blog when I was studying for my PGCert in Learning & Teaching in Higher Arts Education, and I'm now using it for CPD. I'm a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Midweek I am continuing the research I commenced as PI for an AHRC-funded research network @ClaimedStatHall – early legal deposit music. Off-duty I'm hard-wired into my sewing machine!