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NHS November

I haven’t posted this month due to medical procedures affecting my family. (“How was your week?”, asked the anaesthetist. “Oh, I got the grant application in …. zzzzzz”, I said breezily.  Well, that had been the primary focus of my efforts up to that point!)

I hope to be back in circulation next week – appropriately for someone who’s a librarian more than half the time – providing the other recipient of NHS care is okay to be left in the house.  I haven’t had a whole month off since our youngest was born 21 years ago, and it has been a strange experience.  Even then, I wasn’t forbidden to drive for six weeks!

But more crucially, I may have kept an eye on my emails, but I’ve done absolutely no research for a month, and that feels quite odd.  I’ve read a couple of books – so far so good – and made a “note to self” about something to follow up.  But that’s it.  I didn’t follow it up.

The morning before my procedure, I wrote an Epiphany carol for a friend – she had translated the words from Latin in the hope that our choir might sing it early next year, so I really had to get something written if I wanted any hope of rehearsing it with them in December.  It proved not only to be a great distraction but – surprisingly, when I got round to revisiting it – I was rather pleased with it.  So, watch this space.  It was quite a high price to pay for inspiration, but on this occasion, at least something good came out of it!

More surprisingly, I spotted a request for a solo instrumental piece, on Facebook, and discovered I already had a composition which I was able to share with only two minutes’ tweaking effort, so that too will be getting a public airing in 2020.  Not bad for someone who is NOT “a composer” to trade.

Other than that – I have nothing to report right now.  But I look forward to getting back into things very soon.

A Metaphor of Three Boxes

Imagine that when we came to Glasgow in 1988, I was the perfect size and shape for the box that represented the post I had applied for.  (Well, I got the job, so that seems reasonable to assume!)

Since then I’ve accumulated loads of experience, and a couple more qualifications – a Musicology PhD and a PGCert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Arts Education.  And a couple of fellowships into the bargain.  I’ve been research assistant on an AHRC-funded project, and PI (principal investigator) on an AHRC networking grant.  I’ve published articles and a book, and given a lot of papers.  So … it would be equally reasonable to assume that I’ve slightly outgrown my box!

cardboard boxesUnfortunately, it feels as though, at the same time as I’ve been outgrowing the box, the box itself seems to be shrinking.  Shades of Alice in Wonderland?  Don’t be silly, that’s just a children’s story!  No, it’s more a kind of Pilgrim’s Progress, as I look this way and that in my efforts to find a bigger box (fresh challenges) without having to relocate.  That’s not even a remote possibility, for personal reasons.

Indeed, you could say we’re looking at four boxes, not three.  The one I started in, the bigger one I ought to be in, the little one I AM in, and a bigger box still for my future aspirations.

boxesI love my research, and I love working with students.  I can’t honestly say I love cataloguing with the same passion.  Squeezed into my present little box, I’m like Schrodinger’s cat: at once alive, and moribund!

Never let it be said that people over sixty suddenly lose their ambitions. If anything, it makes it feel more urgent that I fulfil my potential before I reach pensionable age!  I jokingly call myself an underachieving high-achiever, but it’s not entirely a joke.  If I met St Peter at the pearly gates tomorrow, I’d be apologising that I hadn’t managed to climb higher up the career ladder!




I’m feeling guilty.  I fully meant to do more reading before now. However, I’ve had five migraines in nine days.  I never let them stop me doing a day’s work, but sometimes I’m forced to stop reading or sitting in front of a screen too long at night!  Maybe tomorrow I’ll get back to reading…