Friday, 31 December 2010

Just call me Shaun White!

Today I was mostly taking on the Scottish mountains on my board. I look very cool, calm and collected in this photo, but it was super scary! I am shattered tonight but it was a great day. Our trip up north was wonderful as always. The Highlands are just beautiful at every time of year but especially in winter.

Happy New Year one and all.


Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A quick festive post

Alright! So, here I sit with the fam, watching darts having eaten the world's largest helping of bread and butter pudding. Ah, I do love the Christmas period! I hope Father Christmas brought you all you wanted. I was thoroughly spoiled: a couple of 66*N jumpers from D (even though he had already given me a pile of pressies - naughty boy!), some lovely new jammies and Doddington Hall vouchers from the rents, and a Kindle from the in-laws. Goodness! I took my Kindle on the bus today and it was very jolly reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

We've spent a happy few days with the family. It was great to get to Carrubbers on Sunday and see all our friends, and we even squeezed in a happy trip to Ocean Terminal yesterday to spend some Christmas money. Tomorrow we are off to Kingussie (weather permitting) for some rest in the snowy Cairngorms. Then, it's back to Edinburgh for New Year, down to Stockport for a couple of days with Mum and Dad and across to Lincoln in time for mad marking week.

And so, back to the darts. James Wade is struggling...


Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas from Lincoln

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11
Here's wishing all our friends and family a brilliant festive season and, most of all, the joy of knowing this Saviour.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

What on earth was that all about?

The title sums up my reaction to last night's film. D suggested that we watch 2001: A Space Odyssey on blu ray. It was on my list of 'classic films I probably should have seen'. As the final credits rolled D (as always) asked, "so what did you think?" Generally I am able to answer this question, but this time I was stumped. About God? Well, for me this film felt completely godless. About evolution? Well, yes, it begins with monkeys fighting with bones but the human race doesn't seem to just gets slightly less hairy! About the nature of humanity? Certainly. The 'death' of Hal was really quite upsetting. About Nietzsche? Absolutely! The whole 'ubermensch' business was clear to see throughout and I think this is the reason I presumed it was a godless universe. About subjectivity and perception? Oh, for goodness sake! Anyways, I'd recommend it if you haven't seen it yet. It certainly got us thinking and talking. I think I probably appreciated it for the incredible visual effects and, even more, for its amazing use of music. I guess it is multi-sensory but how that combines with all the philosophical stuff, I don't know - is it a film for the intellectual mind or for the senses? Or both?

I am currently enjoying slow but happy days of research and Book preparation. Today I hit 10,000 words of that tricky Language chapter I keep mentioning. Finally my argument feels as if it is coming together. The problem is that I am trying to argue two, seemingly contrasting things: first, language is vital to our understanding of a British avant-garde and second, that language isn't quite as vital as previous scholarship has presumed. This sort of argument ties me up in knots! But the mist is clearing...

...which is more than can be said for the weather which has hit the UK in recent weeks. We have had some serious frost here and today the snow was back which meant that we couldn't get to a party in one of the surrounding villages. The main roads were fine but with the promise of more snow (which didn't actually materialise) we decided to take a rain check. Here's hoping that all's fine for our upcoming trip up north.

So this evening we had D & M's special Christmas. We have had this exciting event every year since we were married so we don't have to cart presents for each other around the country. Warden Christmas always comes early, always involves something experimental in the kitchen and always means too many presents for me. To celebrate I made Nigella's Mexican lasagne from her new book, Kitchen (we love Nigella and she has rather generously put the recipe online) It's great, easy and it's veggie too! I used half fat cheese so, given that you are really just eating loads of veggies and pulses, it is also very healthy...particularly by Nigella standards. We both did very well. D surprised me with a gorgeous Ugg leather trench coat.

As usual he bagged himself a bargain and I was the beneficiary.

In other news, I recently joined a website called where you can post your academic details and make web-friends with others working in your area. But the truly surprising thing about this online community is that it tells you when someone has Googled you! Emails come through to your inbox to tell you as much. Totally weird! It is a great site though and well worth joining if you have any connection with the academic world. Cheers Joanne and Will for introducing me to it!

Anyways, it feels very late but isn't so I think I'll go and have a snooze in a second. We are able to get our lounge really warm but the rest of the flat is colder than cold. Brr...It doesn't make me want to get up off the sofa and walk across the Arctic region that is our hall!

I'll post again over the festive season!


Friday, 17 December 2010

The start of the Christmas holidays

Today was the final official day of term. We finished off with a jolly school meeting complete with mince pies. I celebrated by fighting through the crowds yesterday to pick up a lovely cardie from Marks - they were on special offer for just £10, down from £35. A proper bargain! The students have exactly 1 hour to hand their essays in and I'm hoping for a couple of weeks of research. I have a pile of books to read and an Introduction to tweak.

We are looking forward to Christmas jollity and, so far, the snow has kept away from Lincoln. It seems to be attacking the other side of the country this time. But there is a chill in the air so what better way to spend our Friday evening than watching the final episode of Kings. We really enjoyed this series. It was beautifully shot and finely acted. It was also really thought-provoking...and virtually impossible to categorise. I love its generic complexity. We couldn't guess how it would end and, with just an hour to go, there seemed to be far too many loose ends. And, brilliantly, they weren't all tied up by the final credits. It was ambiguous and totally compelling. There would definitely have been scope for another series if NBC had realised what a amazing piece of TV they actually had on their hands. But, unfortunately, someone in their wisdom decided that X-Factor/Pop Stars/Celebrity Dancing show would be a better choice. More fool them, I say!

And so we are looking forward to a weekend of tidying, writing and reading. We are off to a Christmas concert tomorrow which is lovely given that for the past decade my December has been chock full of Christmas gigs. This year has felt a little quiet and sad. We are having friends round afterwards which is an excuse for something mulled and some cheese methinks! If you are wondering about my reading list which has been somewhat static for a couple of months then you'll be glad to know that I am also hoping to do a bit of extra-curricular reading during the holidays.

Anyways, enjoy the weekend one and all. I'm off to drink a cuppa and beat D at our basketball computer game. I got close last night...


p.s. students, you now have 50 minutes...tick...tock...tick...tock...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A Handbag?

Goodness, I have watched a lot of Wilde wit and Restoration bawdiness over the last few days! Third year assessment ended at 6.30 this evening. We were suitably impressed by all. I am currently sitting in a lazy, sleepy state in my new Adidas hat. It is brown and like the one that Amy Williams wore at the Winter Olympics. It is an early Christmas pressie from D. How nice! Tomorrow we have site-specific assessments and the new hat may well make an appearance.

We are getting through the American series, Kings, at an alarming rate. At present it is our dinner time treat. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, it is a Biblical allegory though it does take some pretty serious liberties with the original story. Yet it is no less entertaining for that. It didn't take off in the States and was cancelled halfway through the first series. This means that the later episodes feel a little rushed. However, it is a really interesting piece about power, faith, deception and courage. We decided that the reason it was cancelled was probably the incredibly complex characterisation. As audience members we have changed our mind a dozen times about the characters. Sometimes we feel sorry for the King and at others he seems to be a wholly despicable figure. Sometimes our sympathy is with David and then he goes and tells a whopping lie. What about the princess, the prince (goodness, no idea about him!), the queen, the advisors? These are not straightforward characters and I think they would prove extremely confusing for an audience, especially as it was advertised under the banner of sci-fi. We, however, are enjoying it immensely and Ian 'Lovejoy' McShane (who reminds me of childhood Sunday nights) is a revelation. He seems to be part of a growing group of Brits making good across the Pond. And 'hoorah to them', I say.

Anyways, I think I'll take another cuppa and go for an early snooze. Looking forward to a half research day tomorrow. It'll be a happy couple of hours on the Book. And it looks like the snow is on the way again so batten down the proverbial hatches. A White Christmas is just fine but a White Christmas Eve (given our planned Chris Rea-style 'travelling home for Christmas') could be a little problematic.


p.s. Many apologies if you have not yet received a Warden Christmas card - they are on their way!
p.p.s. If you get the gist of tonight's title then we should eat cucumber sandwiches together at a later date.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

And another post-Asia

Why is there a blog post appearing, you may ask, on an Asia gig night? Well, good question. We should have been in Holmfirth tonight but poor ol' Steve Howe has hurt his back so the concert was cancelled. Gutted! But at least we got to see an amazing gig on Friday night in Edinburgh. Glad we made the effort to get through the fast-thawing snow and up to Auld Reekie. The gig was incredible. Our seats were on the front row and the whole band sounded terrific. John's vocals were better than ever and Steve even played the guitar with his teeth, which is totally out of character! The new Omega stuff was particularly great. End of the World has been in my head ever since. Here's hoping that the Holmfirth gig will be rescheduled.

In fact, the Edinburgh gig was the start of a great weekend. We enjoyed a happy night with the in-laws on the Friday and even got to see our niece who has grown so much in just a couple of months. We then drove down to Stockport to celebrate Grandad's 90th birthday in style. The whole family descended and it was lovely to see everyone. It was only arriving back last night after his birthday meal out that we learnt of Steve's injury. So, while the weekend was tinged with disappointment, it was all so great that it was very difficult to feel sad.

So, in honour of the Asia boys here are two pictures of me at previous gigs with John in a Glasgow car park...

.,.and Geoff at last February's London gig.

Ah, good times!

From showbiz pictures to student assessment. And we start at 9 tomorrow with the third years. Roll on rakes, fops and swooning ladies!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Pre-Asia post

And so we're off to Edinburgh tomorrow after I've taught a first year class on Hedda Gabler. D still has to dig the car out of the snow - I believe I only have a trowel in my tool kit. Hmm...good luck with that!

We're looking forward to a lovely weekend of family and music far away from the current madness of student politics. I love a good protest; in fact, I am passionate about allowing free protest in a civilised country and particularly about speaking out for those who cannot speak out for themselves. It's Biblical and it's right. But I am so disappointed about what passes for political rebellion in our rather unpleasant consumer society. The laudable anti-war sentiment of the Spirit of '68? Following the incredible, vibrant fervour of 1926? I think not! Our current breed of activists seem to only care enough to revolt when it hits their own pocket. Advice for the protestors? Go to lectures! Protest needs to be organised and informed. This current movement is neither. Alongside the mob that jumps on the bandwaggon there are a number of great, informed speakers. Some of these are affiliated with the NUS. I'm hoping that these voices are the ones which are heard. My shower thought of the morning? Whatever happened to the art of the real debate?

Rant concluded! I'll perhaps write something a little more comprehensive on this subject at a later date if the mood takes me and I find a parapet to cower beneath. As usual I partly agree and partly disagree with governmental policy but this isn't really the point. I just wish that the revolution could just be a little more witty and intelligent.

Anyways, to bed, I think. I have my 1984 vintage Yes t-shirt ready for tomorrow's gig. Can't wait! Reviews coming up!

Monday, 6 December 2010

"Are you sixteen, duck?"

This was the question directed at this increasingly elderly lecturer while trying to buy PVA glue in Poundland. I much trouble could anyone cause with a small bottle of PVA? I was, however, utterly delighted! This was really the highlight of the weekend! Due to the snow D and I spent most of Saturday and Sunday indoors enjoying our books. We didn't even get to church so, instead, listened to Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill. We did decide to brave the icy pavements on Saturday night though and wandered down to Nando's for a bit of spicy chicken. D then convinced me to accompany him to watch the new Denzel Washington vehicle Unstoppable at the cinema. It was fairly predictable but enjoyable stuff. Actually I felt that it was a more interesting film than it thought it was - generally I feel the exact opposite! The relationships were so nicely crafted and convincing but, for some reason, the director insisted on mediating the action through the cameras of Fox news and I don't think it was a satirical comment. This was a bit of a shame as it turned the audience member into a voyeur. Oh goodness, that just sounds magnificently poncy...sorry about that!

So, other than that there isn't a great deal of news. This is the last week of teaching and we have an exciting weekend ahead. We are off for an adventure, traveling up to Edinburgh on Friday for our first gig of the weekend, over to Stockport on Saturday for Grandad's 90th birthday party and through to Holmfirth for out second gig. We are following Asia across the country! Can't wait to see John, Geoff, CP and Steve again. I'm off for a cuppa and a re-read of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest which I'm teaching tomorrow. What a great play!


Saturday, 4 December 2010

I like to be in America!

To see more photos, check out our new photo section or the slide show on the right.

So, finally here is the full story of our trip to Seattle...

We arrived in Seattle to find a chaffeur-driven car waiting for us. I fulfilled a happy dream to arrive at an airport to be met buy a man with our name on a board. Surely this means you've made it. It was a lovely gesture from our hosts, Anne and Tim. In fact the whole trip was filled with lovely gestures from these two generous folks. Leaving our friends, Will and Joanne to rest after their journey, we spent our first full day exploring Seattle. In his usual organised way D had a plan and had booked a food tour round Pike Place Market. Now, the food in Seattle started well and got better. Man, we ate some wonderful food! From amazing chowder and spiced tea to crab cakes and smoked salmon, this tour had it all.

How huge are those crabs?

Seattle is a very cool, West coast city with a laid back vibe. It is very welcoming and we were greeted everywhere we went. It does help to have a Scotsman along for the ride. Although Americans are largely pretty proud of their nation they often seem to have a particular affinity with another nation, viewing their great-great-great-great grandfather's birthplace as a homeland. For some reason those with a Scottish pedigree seem particularly proud...which means we get wonderful service and freebies wherever we go - even in Macy's!  We did quite a bit of shopping that day. Prices are generally a lot cheaper than in the UK! We also went up the Space Needle that afternoon (jet lag? what jet lag!). It was unbelievably windy! You travel up to the top in a glass elevator (yes, just like Charlie) which was a little surprising/terrifying. We enjoyed a fab pumpkin eclair from Dalia's bakery at the top.

The end of a busy day on top of the Space Needle

Our conference started on the Thursday. In fact it was a day of firsts as we both ate sushi for the first time (NB actually this isn't quite true. As an undergraduate we had a sushi party in celebration of the Japan World Cup. We made so much that we left some on our neighbour's doorstep. I must admit that this overdose has caused me to steer away from raw fish until this restaurant in Seattle) and D went to his first American football match. He had a great time watching the Washington Huskies beat UCLA and returned with many Huskies related gifts as the all have a big 'W' on the front - Warden merchandise! This was college football and the crowd was just huge. Remembering back to cold Aberystwyth hockey matches where the spectators consisted of the sub trying to keep warm, I was again in awe of American university sport.

Go Huskies!

While D cheered on the boys in gold and purple I was participating in my working group. It was an enjoyable affair, if slightly left-field at times. In fact this summed up the whole conference really. There were some strange political tensions that I remained almost oblivious to and some established hierarchies that I haven't really experienced before. That said, I met some very cool folks and had some wonderful quiet time to explore my own research. In fact academic plenaries are extremely good places for thinking. Generally there is one good paper and two not so great - so some inspiration and some time for 'academic chilling'. One of the highlights of the conference was on the final day where we had the privilege of hearing the good folks of Mabou Mines. I had seen their incredible (yes, I do mean that) version of Peter Pan at the Edinburgh Festival last year. Hearing about their vision for a free and fair ensemble company was truly inspirational.

The conference lasted until the Sunday but D left me to enjoy the intellectual rigours alone while he journeyed up to Vancouver on the train. He loved Canada and came back buzzing with stories and with a bag of cool Lululemon sports gear for me.

Vancouver skyline

When he returned on the Sunday we visited Mars Hill Church. This will mean very little to some of you and a great deal to others. Mars Hill is an amazing church (actually churches, plural) in Seattle and the surrounding area. It's headed up by a guy called Mark Driscoll and D and I have admired his straight-talking style for a while now. The church is theologically sound (Bible-believing) while also having a very open, modern attitude. This is a very rare combo in the UK. As we entered the building the band were rehearsing. If the first thing you hear when you enter a church is 'I think we need a bit more bass' you know you are in for a great service ;-). We really enjoyed our evening there. Check out their blog if you're interested. If you don't think church is your thing then definitely check it out - it is a little different from Songs of Praise!

Mars Hill Downtown

I had taken Monday as annual leave so we could go and explore the surrounding countryside. So off we went into the cascades in Washington State. Snow shoeing through the mountains was one of the top ten experiences of my life!

Me and our great guide Dan traversing the snowy mountain.

On we went to Leavenworth, a little Baverian-style town. Sounds naff? Actually it was really quite sweet. So, how to describe our journey home? Well, as we started on the drive back the snow began to get worse until we found ourselves in the middle of a blizzard. When your guide's voice is inflected with panic you know things are bad. Actually he said it was the worst storm he'd ever seen in Washington State! So, we ended up with him driving, me staring at the sat nav in a vain attempt to interpret the roads and D with his head out of the window giving directions to stop us driving right off the mountain road. It was all a little scary really and kinda focuses the mind on prayer and only prayer. Well, we arrived back safely in the end to be greeted by our hosts, massive steaks and the joys of Dancing with the Stars. Hoorah!

So, all in all a great trip. We so enjoyed meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with old. The conference provided me with some real space to explore my own research and a chance to find out a little more about American academia. All in all it was well worth the ten hour flight.

Well, that's all folks - the end of my first trans-Atlantic academic experience. Hope you enjoyed the chronicle.


In the red corridor at Seattle Library

p.s. and the highlight? Well, call me a geek but Seattle public library is one of the most inspiring and amazing buildings I have ever been in. It completely sums up the city's attitude to learning - books are for everyone!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The new and improved Molemaison

Having been writing this blog for a year now I felt it was time for some spring cleaning. Wonderful D took it upon himself to make some improvements and here you have it! The idea is to keep the slightly quirky, personal angle while also including a bit of academic gumph. If you have no interest in this side of Warden life (and, quite frankly, why should you?) then feel free to ignore it. I've found over the past year that my blogging intentions have changed slightly. At first I just wanted to keep our friends up to date with all that was going on. Gradually, however, it has become a place to put my occasional rants/thoughts and to document my own academic experience in the hope that it might help others. So, the blog has now grown with me. If The Book is of particular interest to you then it now has its own bespoke page which will document the journey. I'll update this every week. If you just like photos of snow then you are in the right place! Hopefully it is still really easy to find your way around. Let me know if it works for you.

In other news...the university has taken the unprecedented step of closing campus until Monday. The snow is truly unbelievable here. D and I cleared the car with a broom tonight - we are talking feet not inches! So tomorrow is another unscheduled research day. Today was very productive so here's hoping tomorrow will be just as good.

We finished watching From the Earth to the Moon box set the other night. We've been enjoying this wonderful HBO series for a little while now. It is a beautifully directed and written set of programmes. We both learnt a great deal about 1960s/70s space travel. As a child my uncle and I worked out the distance from the earth to the moon and back and how long it would take us to travel it. I've always loved space travel so this was right up my street. D and I ended up having a hypothetical conversation about whether we would become an astronaut if we could. So now we are on to a new series, Kings. Taking the lead is Ian 'Lovejoy' McShane. It is, somewhat surprisingly, a Biblical allegory, basing the story on the life of King David. We are really enjoying it so far. I'll post a proper review at a later date.

Anyways, enough already! Promise I will post our America photos this weekend. They'll be worth the wait.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Just call me John Kettley

Our flat

(Imagine the weather map behind me) Just to fill you in on the latest snow report from Lincoln. Well, given that the police have apparently put road blocks up to stop people getting in to the city, I think it is safe to say that we are well and truly cut off. Fortunately (due to D's penchant for buying in bulk when he sees an offer) we have enough toilet roll and cup-a-soups to last until next summer. The snow here is unbelievable!

Trees on the way to D's work

As predicted university was closed today though the good people of Job Centre Plus (D's work) valiantly turned up to serve the folks of Lincolnshire. After working at home all day I decided to take a walk down to meet D at his work. It was strangely quiet except for the laughter of a bunch of sledging kids and the chatter of two snowboarders (I know...weird huh!?). It is so beautiful though. We seem to be getting the worst/best of it in the East Midlands. It looks like another day at home for me tomorrow and we are not getting the car out for a good couple of days yet. I'm off to make dinner and flick the heating on again. Brr...

This is the view from our balcony window this morning!