Friday, 30 July 2010

Something jolly for a Friday

Just thought you might all enjoy this picture of a knitted Last Supper. Hilarious! It was made by a skilled knitting lady from Uncle Charlie's choir, the Badenoch and Strathspey Singers.

Knitted Version of the Last Supper

It is raining here tonight so nothing to be done other than carry on with the final book chapter and watch the Rugby League at the in-laws house in Edinburgh via the joys of Skype. Still the second half to go. Come on the Cherry and Whites!


Thursday, 29 July 2010

Inception and a boy free zone

Well here I sit home alone as D had headed up to Edinburgh for a couple of days. Sadly it's for a funeral rather than a jolly holiday. He'll be back on Sunday but until then I have the flat to myself. I'm hoping to get lots of work done while he's away; apart from anything else this Regionality paper needs to be finished by Saturday. Phew!

But today was a day away from the computer for a wee trip to Leeds to visit the Luehrmann's. It was so lovely to spend some time with Em, Anna, Elijah and Rosie. They all seemed very well indeed. I've been missing Carrubbers friends recently so it was super to see them. It only took a couple of hours on the train and it's great to have them so close.

So last night we finally got to see Inception. I don't want to give the game away so no spoilers, I promise. Suffice to say, you really need to see this film. It is just magnificent. Though it's pretty high concept (entering someone else's dream space? Eh?) it is directed with such subtlety that it just works. Strangely given that it is (arguably?) a kind of science fiction/psychological thriller film, it was the realism that really struck me. It dramatised my own experience of dreaming - waking up with a fall, seeing people out of context, bringing subconsciously repressed material (don't worry, nothing too weird!) to the surface. Man, I just loved it. D and I talked about it for ages afterwards.

So, a couple of big work days and trying not to miss D too much!


Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Sunday Review and an afternoon break

I have spent the last hour considering poetic imagery and listening to bizarre Dada 'poetry'. Check it out at Ubuweb if you have a spare five minutes. Karavane is my current favourite. There wasn't really a British 'Hugo Ball' equivalent in 1916 but I think his work might be auseful and interesting addition to my language chapter. The book is going well today. I have a lot to do yet and a couple of the chapters still feel extremely fragmented (ironically given the content!) but I can say with some certainty that we are getting there. My current music choices include Trevor Rabin soundtracks with a bit of lovely John Wetton thrown in when I need something to sing along with. Sweet! Sorry for not updating my reading list for a while; you'll be glad to see that all is present and correct now.

Anyways, we had a lovely weekend with the in-laws. Lincoln lost but the boys enjoyed the game. We had a relaxing afternoon tea and the whole thing was topped off by dinner at Doddington Hall. On to Sunday, we enjoyed a great evening sermon about being downcast from Psalm 42. This is one of my favourite Psalms. In fact one of the first songs I ever wrote was a paraphrase of these verses for a good friend of mine who suffered from depression. Writing songs is a very cathartic experience, I find, though few people ever get to hear them...don't expect an album any time soon!

We also finished the first series of Life on Mars. Nothing was resolved so it's on to the second series. I just love it - cleverly scripted (a rare thing for British TV) and a lovingly (and accurately) reconstructed 1970s.

We're hoping to get tickets for Inception tomorrow after last week's debacle. D is very excited about this film. I'll post a review here when I can. Other than that it's a week of book writing. Oh, and I have to finish this paper on theatre and regionality by Friday - phew! I'm going to do another hour before making tea (fajitas all the way tonight) so I'll leave you to it.


Friday, 23 July 2010

The end of another working week

I thought I'd write this post during my afternoon coffee break (actually I'm drinking a Diet Coke and eating a wee Mrs Crimbles macaroon). Currently writing the language chapter of the book. When I start a new chapter like this I like a full quiet day without any other commitments. I might not be writing every second but I need the 'head time'. And this is exactly what I have had today. Hoorah! It has gone rather well and I am up to 1388 chapter words. Not bad for one day of thinking/writing. Mega!

It has actually been a week like that, for which I am very grateful. It does mean, however, that you don't see many actual people (other than D, of course!). Too much time in one's head (especially when you are reading mad Expressionist drama) is never good. So I was glad for a coffee with a colleague yesterday and the visit of our friends, Rachael, Jake and wee Bel. They came to visit on their way to Norwich and we had a very jolly time. It was so nice to see Edinburgh friends. And tonight the in-laws arrive for the weekend. Lincoln City are playing Celtic (I know, weird huh? Lincoln's manager used to play for Celtic) so the boys are off to watch. Ailsa and I will go and find something better to do :-) We are really looking forward to having them to stay.

Not much else going on. A good squash game last night (we have quite close games until D puts on the afterburners!), episodes of Life on Mars, reading the London Review, cleaning the house, doing the washing, having a great tea at Nando's (we were meant to go to see Inception as well but couldn't get in - boo! - so we'll try and get tickets next week) and enjoying Leviathan. I have been reading this book for quite a long while. This is not because I don't like it but rather because it is the type of book you can dip in and out of. I have learnt a great deal about whales. It moves from Moby Dick to discuss these great beasts in more detail. It isn't a biology book though. Rather it is a historical, literary celebration of the whale. Beautifully written, this book contains some of the saddest stories I have read in a good long while. I'd really recommend it. I have a pile of books to read when I'm finished including a biography of Friedrich Engels, a book about sailing round the world and a novel by Rebecca West. Phew! We are nothing if not diverse in the Warden household. D is reading a book about Baptists leant to us by a friend at LEC. Given that neither of us have a Baptist background we both find the whole thing a little confusing. I, for one, am hoping to find out what Strict Baptists are strict about!

Anyways, that's quite long enough, thank you. I'll do a wee bit more and then change the sheets upstairs in preparation for our visitors. Have a magnificent weekend.


Monday, 19 July 2010

Sunday Review

Evening friends,
Well Friday and Saturday were lovely, quiet days of reading, lazy breakfasts and Life on Mars. Sunday, by contrast (and ironically given that it is supposed to be a day of rest!) was very, then church lunch (I had cooked 55 sausages in my wee kitchen in preparation for this - I can still smell them and I NEVER want to see a sausage again...ever), then off to an old folks' home for a wee service, then back to an friendly couple's house for some tea (lovely English tradition), then back to church, then home and snooze. Phew! I took my guitar to the home and played a couple of songs. It was my first 'performance' since leaving Rudsambee. I always get nervous, even in front of a collection of elderly people with contrasting levels of cognition. However, it was fine.

Today was a happy day of writing. I am trying to get this paper finished and crack on with the book. Both are going relatively well really. Fancied a change of scenery this afternoon so went for a wee walk in the sun (another summer day in Lincoln) and stopped at a new cafe, The Way of Tea. It is below the tea shop on the Bailgate and is a lovely, cool cavernous room with an amazing selection of teas. I just asked for a recommendation for a hot afternoon and a lovely lady brought me a light green tea (leaf, naturally), Wen Shan Baozhong (of all things) in a tea pot. She also brought me a wee timer so I could brew it for four minutes exactly. It was the most refreshing cup of green tea I've ever drunk and I had a very happy hour and a half with my laptop. Definitely a new favourite. I'll work my way through the menu.

A peaceful night ahead. I've got a few jobs to do around the house before all our visitors arrive over the next couple of days. Oh, and it's University Challenge tonight, of course, so D and I will be avidly watching at 8pm. I'm going to put a wash on and get the falafel in the oven for tea. Man, I sound terribly middle class! I am even wearing a pashmina as I write this. Hmmm...

Have a great week one and all.

Friday, 16 July 2010

And into the weekend...

So, dinner is in the oven (fish fingers and chips - yes, we are 6 years old! I'm even going to serve alphabet spaghetti with it. Oh, too yum!) and D is watching the golf so I thought I'd write a brief blog post as we head into the weekend. The golf is dominating Warden thought at the mo. It is only a recent interest of mine. I dip in and out, but get quite excited when it comes to the big tournament. The Open this year is from St Andrews, a place D and I know very well. Ask him to give you the Reformation tour and he'll even point out where Patrick Hamilton was burned at the stake.

I had a couple of meetings on Tuesday (including with my new boss!) but otherwise it has been book writing at home. It is all going rather well. I am working my way through the 'structure chapter' at the moment and am really enjoying the process. It is rather like piecing together a criminal case (Sherlock Holmes-esque) as there is so much information to put into some sort of order. I am hoping to get the whole first draft done by Christmas so I'd better get a shifty on.

After watching both series of Ashes to Ashes earlier this year, D and I have started on the earlier Gene Hunt series, Life on Mars. It is good to have Hunt back in our lives and it is really interesting telly - a rare thing I find. We've also been playing a bit of D's new Wii Mario Game. I am completely hopeless at computer games but in this one I can play a Luma and just help D out. This is much more pleasant! As for current reading matter, I am enjoying a few wonderful articles in the London Review of Books as a break from book research but fiction/'fun' reading has been put to one side for the week as I get enough written words during the day!

A quiet weekend coming up. Sunday is quite busy with church lunch and a service at the local nursing home. I am 'doing a turn' so I'd better get my guitar head on! Tomorrow will be spent cleaning, working and watching golf I should think, although we might head out for breakfast. Anyways, I can smell fishfingers so I'd better get off.
Enjoy the weekend one and all.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Conference Review part 2

So, the conference has been and gone. It was all very enjoyable and I learned a great deal about C21 lit - not one of my strong points! Some very interesting panels and chat. Although I took Sunday off, I did get to the conference dinner in the evening. After the food there was a band (made up of academics from Lincoln - they were very good and played a good lot of T-Rex and The Beatles) and a bit of a dance. Now I am no dancer. I'm alright at a ceilidh but when it comes to jiggling about I just look ridiculous. But it was all good fun and I busted some moves. The organisers did a magnificent job.

Rather than fill you in on all the academic pomposity I thought I'd do a bit of a meditation (ooer!) on the final plenary which asked the far reaching question, "can literature save the world?" It examined a relatively new book called Solar by Ian McEwen. I haven't read it but I was interested in the speaker's argument abut how literature can contribute to/make comment on current issues, namely global warming/environmental disaster etc. I must admit I was pretty sleepy by the final plenary but was struck by the Q&A. A great many of the comments were critiquing the book, which everyone seemed to really dislike. But one question stood out. It came from a well-known ecocritic e.g. someone who reads literature through the lens of environmental issues (a BIG field right now). He was questioning the speaker's use of terminology. His comment was (I paraphrase) "All this is fine but I think we need to work out what we are saving. We aren't saving the world. That'll go on without us. So, what are we saving? (pause) Humanity?" The speaker's response was (again paraphrased) "well, it is difficult to know which words to use and perhaps I do use ideas of...erm...redemption too much".

Fascinating! So, it got me thinking. What are we trying to save? The world will continue with or without our intervention in some form or other. So, are we trying to save humanity and, if we are, what are we saving humanity from exactly? Are we just trying to preserve the species? Why is that an important objective in and of itself? And where does redemption come in? Are we attempting to 'save the world' in response to personal and/or collective guilt? Where does this guilt come from? And, further, why do we think that a subjectively 'beautiful' world is any better than a subjectively 'ugly' world? Where do these values come from?

Strangely, as I thought over the issues I realised I was moving away from ecocriticism and further towards ideas of salvation and redemption. Now, I have a personal knowledge of these two concepts...

"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation" Isaiah 12:2.

"Stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Jesus in Luke 21:28.

Ah yes, there we strange that in that final plenary we seemed to somehow be searching for salvation and redemption. Granted the above verses probably weren't quite what everyone had in mind, but I was struck by the similarity in nomenclature. So, what are we trying to save...and are we completely sure that someone hasn't already done the saving?

All's well here. Was soundly beaten on the squash court this evening and spent the day at meetings (all very interesting!) and writing a paper for another conference in September. Will get back to the book tomorrow. And it's raining here! After two months of almost perpetual sunshine, British weather has at last returned. Actually it is a bit of a relief to wear a jumper again! A peaceful book-writing week beckons. Have a brilliant week one and all.


Sunday, 11 July 2010

Conference Review part 1

So, we've had two days of the conference at Lincoln and I have written precisely nothing about it at Molemaison. This is mainly due to the schedule of conferences. Yesterday we (my friend Julia was staying) left the house at 8.30 and arrived back at just before 11. Phew! My paper went just fine on Friday - it wasn't ground-breaking or world-changing but, given that 21st century lit is not my strong point, I was relatively pleased. Friday evening we had a performance by Tim Crouch. Not sure I can adequately describe this really except that it is a one man show about perception and the audience gaze. Very clever, I thought. It got us thinking anyhow. Yesterday we had some more great papers and the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, gave a reading. Not a massive fan of her poetry but readings are always lovely, peaceful affairs and it was very enjoyable. Conferences are funny things really. You spend your time smoozing and trying to be on your best behaviour. There are A LOT of words - chat, panels, plenaries, more chat, food and chat, coffee and chat, cold tea and chat. "Words, words, I'm so sick of words," as Eliza Doolittle would have said! All fun though.

And now it is Sunday morning and, though the conference continues apace, I have a peaceful day of rest before me. Sundays are good. More conference tomorrow and a week of meetings (only Tuesday) and days at home writing a paper for a conference in September. I am applying for a special bursary so need to get my paper in ASAP.

Outside of work, the weather continues to be summery, though it is a little windy and cloudy this morning. I finished my latest Sharpe book last night before bed. Sharpe's Triumph was an early one - in fact, Sharpe was still a sergeant at the start of it (I won't tell you whether he still was by the end!). I really like these books (and the TV series). As you can see from the 'I'm reading...' list, I have a lot of books on the go right now. Some are work-related and some just for fun. I've ordered a few Amazon bargains recently so have Rebecca West's Return of the Soldier, Victor Hugo's Les Miserables (I read half of this book when I was a lot younger), James McPherson's Battle Cry for Freedom (about the American Civil War) on my shelf and a number of books by wrestlers or round-the-world yachtsman that D is encouraging me to read. I'm always happy if I have at least five books on the go at any one time. Only occasionally do I mix up characters or get confused about plot. And that just brings an extra element of fun to proceedings!

Anyways, a little more tea would make for a very pleasant start to the day so I'll go and boil the kettle. Have a great Sunday one and all.


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Writing papers and playing games

Well, it is pretty late so I'll be was spent doing a bit of tweaking on the conference paper and doing a bit of work on the book chapter. Actually I got quite a bit done and even got the guest sheets washed in preparation for my friend Julia who is coming to visit at the weekend.

So last weekend came and went. We had a lovely time at Doddington Hall and the food was just as good as ever. Sunday was spent at church and we enjoyed a happy lunch with our Pastor and family. We went for a wee walk after eating and D met another new doggie.

A good few games of squash tonight. I pushed D pretty hard and we both ended up very hot and sweaty! I even won a couple of games. When we came out it was raining! Rain is that wet stuff that falls from the sky and we haven't seen it in Lincoln for a month and a bit, other than in a couple of night storms.

Currently listening to a mega double album - the soundtrack for Shutter Island. I haven't seen the film but the album is a great mix of modern classical tracks. Lots of fabulous clashy modern chords. Not exactly restful most of the time but certainly invigorating. Furthermore, I can now do my research under the watchful gaze of Picasso's ladies. D bought me a print of Les Demoiselles D'Avignon (1907) for Christmas and I have (shamefully) only just got round to getting it framed. The framers seem to have done a great job and I'll hang it in my office tomorrow. I'm sure I'll have some very stimulating conversations with the ladies over the next few years.

Anyways, I'm off to bed. I'll do a couple of conference posts and let you know whether I had the chance to schmooze with the Poet Laureate or not.


Saturday, 3 July 2010

A sunny Saturday

I write this while looking out of our lounge window. It is Waddington Air Show today and some mad folks are zooming through the sky doing flips and stuff (I hasten to add that they are in aeroplanes). Insane! It is still warm here and our balcony door remains open almost continuously.

Well, it's been a good week of exam boards (finally all the marks have been decided) and preparation for next week's big conference. The paper is now written (just about) and I'm pretty content with it. The material has been on my computer for about three years so at least I've had plenty of time to mull over the themes! This week I've also booked tickets to go to Seattle in November. I'm finally going trans-Atlantic in the autumn and participating in a working group at a conference. D is coming along to hold my hand on the plane and enjoy happy days watching American football. Academically things seem to be going rather well at present and I am thankful after a few years of part-time work and wondering where things were going.

Anyways, we are looking forward to dinner at Doddington Hall tonight (our favourite!), and to church and lunch with our Pastor and family tomorrow. Am now going to make some lunch and look forward to an afternoon of reading Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf (I am loving Woolf again right now - good job given that I spent yesterday going through all six volumes of her letters! Phew!), sorting clean washing, watching Wimbledon and the World Cup semi-final and having a chilled out bath. What a life!