Saturday, 29 January 2011

Snoozy Saturdays

Goodness, it's been a busy week! I finished working at 1.30 this morning. D stayed up with me and we enjoyed some great vintage Yes. I realised that Endless Dream actually makes my come over all emotional, though it might have been the combination of amazing music, extreme tiredness and a looming deadline.

After the craziness of the week, it's been a pretty slow start to Saturday. We had a bit of a long lie and then I spent the morning rereading Wole Soyinka's strange, incredible play, Death and the King's Horseman. Although British and Nigerian cultures are, to a certain extent, juxtaposed, this is not really a 'clash of cultures' play. In fact Soyinka himself thinks that just presuming it is a play about colonial relations is a bit reductionary. Rather, it is a study of the Yoruba culture. The language is beautiful and it confronts a number of really difficult issues. We'll see what the students make of it on Monday. I heard Soyinka speak in Edinburgh a couple of years ago. He is incredibly charismatic and passionate. I didn't agree with everything he said but he was extremely inspirational. I am also teaching classes on Brecht, the Theatre of the Absurd, and the Living Newspaper tradition over the course of the next few days.

I'm trying to couple this with some proper research work, though, I must admit, this week the teaching took priority. Because of the way my teaching falls, I actually have two research days this week and am looking forward to finishing the first draft of the Book and preparing two book proposals. Phew!

Other than work and workouts, life has passed me by this week. We did get to LEC's first ever homegroup on Thursday. It was an exciting moment in the life of our church. We are in a lovely group and had some good chat about fellowship. D's reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm also continue apace. I think we have just entered series 3. I even found myself feeling sorry for Larry the other night. Blimey!

Anyways, I'm off to do a bit of cleaning and listen to the football. D is watching Aberdeen-Celtic and, given that Aberdeen are already down 4-0, I think the poor boy might need a coffee! Have a great weekend one and all.


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Do you know the offside rule?

In light of the recent Sky controversy, this was posted on Twitter...

Fantastic! I particularly like the Henry vacuum. It reminds me of cleaning between the chairs at Carrubbers! For your information, I do know the offside rule.

Hope it made you smile - in an ironic way, of course. I only wish I was writing a book on feminism and sport. This would make the perfect front cover.


Sunday, 23 January 2011

"You can blow out a candle, but you can't blow out a fire" - Peter Gabriel

It's Sunday night and I am sitting in a relatively tidy lounge listening to an amazing Peter Gabriel gig from Wolfgang's Vault and enjoying a cup of camomile tea. Pretty brilliant start to the week! I love Peter Gabriel. D and I were just chatting and I realised that I always turn to his music when I need a 'pick-me-up'. His tunes are challenging, beautiful, politically-engaged, poetic and uplifting. I adore his mix of Western rock and world music. He is totally mega! It's fascinating to see the way music affects mood. It is such a powerful thing.

We've had a lovely day with a good couple of church folks. The day included some incredible pork crackling (difficult to get right!), a refreshing walk round Skellingthorpe and a conversation about a stroke club (don't ask) that made me laugh until my sides hurt. Unfortunately it also included a super flat tyre which meant our wonderful Pastor's wife came out to collect us. Here's hoping the folk at Kwik fit can do something about that tomorrow.

The puncture was presumably picked up while out on our Warden trip yesterday. We had such a great day. First stop was the lovely town of Oakham. We did a bit of food shopping as there are some great local produce shops and had a wander round the centre. And then it was off for lunch at Chequers. Great meal, wood burning fires and some lovely chat. A perfect Saturday.

And so it's off with the new term tomorrow. I'm not teaching until the afternoon so I'll spend the morning at home doing some prep. I'm really looking forward to seeing all the students again and getting on with the new courses. It's going to be a good term. The projects are coming along nicely and I now have the skeleton version of my Walter Greenwood paper up and running. It's taken a bit of time to hone this one but I'm feeling happier about it now.

Anyways, the Gabriel concert has finished with a rousing rendition of Biko and now we are on to Yes. It's thrills a minute chez Warden. I've finished my tea and am off to bed. It's a busy week ahead, filled to the brim with fun stuff. I need my beauty sleep.


p.s. I take it back - D has found a very controversial 80's Bowie concert to listen to. I am going to make the wild presumption that he is the only man in the know universe currently listening to - and more importantly enjoying - this gig! D has a knack of enjoying the anomalies in artists' careers, those sell-out moments. It means I get to listen to some weird stuff!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Enthusiastic about Twitter

How do you like the new blog look? D has done another reworking job. It looks like the kind of place I wouldn't mind spending a jolly holiday in the sunshine, so it seems a good background to choose as we approach warmer climes (I hope!).

We have just arrived back from a jolly jazz event at the University. Every Friday night the Lincoln School of Performing Arts is hosting local jazz musicians as part of its Commuter Jazz series. What a great idea - a couple of hours of jazz on your way home before heading into the weekend! It concluded a busy working week full of third year performances, careers week and teaching prep. Looking forward to getting back to teaching next week.

So, what has been going on chez Warden? Well, D has been working his way through the Curb Your Enthusiasm box sets. D loves Larry David! I love bits of this show. I find comedy a difficult genre! The more Curb  D watches, the more he turns into Larry. It is a slightly disturbing transformation. While D enjoys the wonders of HBO, I have been rereading Elmer Rice's The Adding Machine. Like last year, I am again teaching a performance module cryptically entitled Creation and Realisation (eh?). In 2010 we did a version of Ewan MacColl's mad, nuclear physics play, Uranium 235. So this year I'm after something equally interesting. The Adding Machine is a possibility, as is Capek's R.U.R. (though I think this is too difficult) and Auden and Isherwood's The Dog Beneath the Skin (surely too poetic for a short first year piece). Hmm...this will occupy my thoughts for the next few weeks. We start the module in March so I've got a bit of time yet. All suggestions gratefully received.

D has also enjoyed his time on Twitter this week. He has just joined and is keeping up with all sorts of people. I've never been on Twitter before and am amazed and confused in equal measure! There is just too much going on - everything moves all the time! And everyone is having inane conversations that you can listen in to. I'm not on Facebook (no point in looking for me there) but Twitter does seem a little bit more interesting.

And tomorrow we are off on a Warden outing. We have booked lunch at Chequers, just outside Grantham and I think we'll take a trip out to Stamford and Oakham before that. A lovely day in prospect!
Tonight it is washing (clothes not myself!), a bit of tidying and a bit of work on my Walter Greenwood paper. This article is coming on quite well, though it needs a bit of tweaking yet.

I'm off for a cup of tea...scrap that...a cup of tea arrived of its own accord attached to the arm of D. Huzzah!


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

"Nature is cruel but we don't have to be" - Temple Grandin

We had a lovely quiet weekend - a brief visit to the local market, some reading, some office tidying, enjoying a good Sunday preach, church lunch (the key lime pie went down well - hoorah!) and a great film. We watched a fairly new HBO flick called Temple Grandin with the gorgeous Clare Danes in the lead role. It was based on the life of the eponymous title character who was born with autism. It tells of her struggles as she advances in her career, finally becoming a professor at Colorado State. It was really inspirational and cleverly narrated with little imaginative flashes.

It's careers week in the department and today D and his boss came in to talk to the students about CVs. All very jolly fun. On top of this the third years are busy with their group performances. There is A LOT of thick face makeup and lavish costumes. I love working here! I have a bit of teaching prep to do, although this term it is all really good fun - a couple of lovely option modules which I'm team teaching with some buddies and a great introductory first year course. Somewhat surprisingly, it all feels very organised! As far as research goes, I'm going to take a few hours out of teaching prep each day this week to do a bit of work on this new book proposal and a paper that I want to send off before the end of next month.

And, other than that, it's all quiet on the Warden front. I realise that I haven't posted anything particularly thought-provoking or witty or ground-breaking over the past few weeks. Sorry about that! Normal service will resume momentarily :-)


Friday, 14 January 2011

Loving London and back to Lincoln

Hey folks!
So I made it back to Lincoln after another day in the archive and a brief coffee with my old Aber buddie, Becca, at Embankment Starbucks. Had a lovely trip home reading Trollope's Barchester Towers on my Kindle. I have never read this book before though it is one of my Grandad's favourites so I thought I'd give it a go. It is a wonderfully satirical take on the Church of England and religious pretense. Give it a go if you like big Victorian novels!

After spending a happy three days in the Capital I realised why I like it so much down there:
1) there are always things to do and there is excitement in the air, especially around Leicester Square which is really a Southern urban version of Blackpool...with great theatres.
2) there is an incredible work ethic. When I sit in a coffee shop in London I definitely get proportionately more work done than in the equivalent cafe elsewhere. I know that these TV home programmes are littered with people wanting to escape the demands of London life, but I really like the hard work concept. Folks are ambitious and, while this doesn't always manifest itself in the most positive ways, there is something quite inspiring about that.

But then there is the terrible air quality, fighting for a seat on the tube and the eye-watering prices, so it isn't all good. I'm certainly not sure if I could live there.

Since returning I have mostly spent my time marking. I have now finished! Tomorrow is set for research - I'm nearing that Holy Grail 70,000 word mark. I might even head up to the Farmers' Market for an ostrich burger or two. We have a couple of films to watch, books to read, a flat to tidy (my office is a bombsite!) and a cake to make for church lunch. I'm going for something spectacular a la Nigella.

Oh and guess who's back at WWE Raw...

Shaun is back, ladies and gents! Hoorah and hooray! It was only a brief return to celebrate his admission into the Hall of Fame but even so...His sweet chin music (that's his signature kick move for those non-wrestling fans out there) on Del Rio proves the old guy's still got it. HBK, HBK!

Feeling much better today. Still a little bit weird but much better. Think I'll attempt a work out in a minute and see how I get on. I'm enjoying the EA sports active software. I have started a 9 week challenge and so far, so good. It really mixes it up so there's no time for boredom and the skipping sessions are brutal!

Enjoy the weekend guys!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Country Girl - Review

I arrived at the archive yesterday to find it all closed up. Rather frustrating (make that very frustrating) but at least it gave me the chance to head out to the University of East London to meet a colleague. Then it was back into town for a performance of The Country Girl and here is a review in case you are interested:

Well, it was a very enjoyable play, very depressing but enjoyable none the less. During the performance I began to realise what a tough play it is to pull off. The central character, Frank (played by the lovely Martin Shaw who has surprisingly buff arms for a 65 year old!) has to be both thoroughly obnoxious and loveably engaging all at the same time. His wife Georgie (pity poor ol’ Jenny Seagrove who spends most of the night in tears) is equally complex. You have to be convinced that Frank’s stories about her suicide attempts might be true but she has to remain the most independent, spirited character onstage. So far, so tough. But couple this with potential infidelity, alcoholism and the backdrop of the theatrical world and you have a really difficult play. As you might expect from two actors who have worked so much together, the leads are terrific and you are totally convinced by their relationship. At times it was really tough to watch, particularly when Frank is at his drunken snivelling worst. As the play takes place in small rooms or cramped backstage areas, it was also incredibly claustrophobic. This mirrored the experience of the characters onstage who are almost all trapped by circumstance and/or their own character flaws. I don't think I'll see a more enjoyably depressing play all year!

And so on to today and back to the archive. Looking forward to a day in the Unity Newsletters. Full service will resume over the weekend. For any concerned for my health after yesterday’s post, you’ll be glad to know that I am feeling much better. I’m not quite firing on all cylinders but we’re on the way up.


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

In London

So, contrary to my last post which said you wouldn't receive any new updates until my return on Friday, here I am sitting in the front room of my hotel, listening to Classic FM and taking advantage of free Wifi. Hoorah! And if you are looking at the time of the post and thinking 'academics are lazy good-fer-nothins' then, for your information, the archive doesn't open until 10.15. If you want to imagine where I am then I'm staying on Holland Road, just off Kensington High Street.

It was a good day yesterday filled with some totally amazing documents. I spent a good couple of hours on one file which contained three lovely Workers' Theatre Movement newsletters from the 1930s. I've already found some great potential graphics for the front of the book. I want to have a nice striking cover and, fortunately, the fab 1930s print block designs of Unity Theatre totally lend themselves to this. Watch this space!

So, am just about to walk back down to Blythe House (V&A archive) and do some work on the Unity Newsletters which are waiting for me. It is the first archive I have visited where they actually weigh each file to make sure you haven't taken anything. Every library has its own funny ways of doing things. Everyone there has been super helpful and kind. Tonight I'm off to Theatreland to see a play and then it's back to Lincoln tomorrow. Good times! Am not feeling quite at my best today. Was a bit sick and headach-y last night and, although I feel heaps better, it has knocked me about a bit. It is very unusual for me to be ill like this. I haven't caught any sort of bug for about 4 years so it was probably my time. Here's hoping that it'll be onwards and upwards today.

Enjoy the day, whatever you do.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

I'm the King of the Swingers

Evening folks,
Having just finished my workout for the night (EA Sport Active on the PS3 - seriously tough!) I thought I'd sit back and write a wee post. Apologies for the lack of news over the past few days. So, I just about finished the 3rd year marking on Friday - a jolly mixed bag. It has been a quiet weekend chez Warden. On Friday night I made popcorn (Amish Rainbow popcorn actually, bought at a wee market in snowy Washington State) and watched The Jungle Book. I have never seen this film so it was a bit of a treat. It is so psychedelic! You could have guessed in was produced in 1967 - a year of free love and too much hash! On top of this, we've done a couple of workouts, watched a lot of darts (Wolfie was victorious in the end), caught up with the ironing and completely reorganised and cleaned my bathroom. The latter is part of my new year tidy up. I'm giving myself a few jobs each week.

This week, however, I'm not going to get a lot of house sorting done as I am off to London for a research trip. I'm leaving a large, fierce Scotsman at home so I shouldn't bother to rob us! I'm visiting a nice wee archive at the V&A. I'm even catching a play while I'm there -  The Country Girl by Clifford Odets. I might even get to Bodeans if I'm feeling particularly adventurous. Looking forward to reading some plays and finding some good photos for the book. Exciting times.

It was great to get back to our church this morning. I awoke to find a lovely Spring day. The sun was shining and it felt as if the Winter was slowly waving goodbye. We saw all our friends and heard some great preaching, as always. I love this time of year, especially after such a hard Winter (weather-wise, that is). So, I think I'll watch the football highlights and then head to bed in preparation for a long day marking tomorrow. You might not get another post until I return from the Capital so enjoy the week in my absence.


Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Entering the New Year

Copious apologies for not posting sooner. We only returned to Lincoln last night after a week and a half away. It was good to see family and friends, try out my snowboarding skills and read some jolly books on my Kindle. We only got to watch one film all holiday - Inception. It was just as good the second time around.

At chez Warden the tree is still up and dusty Christmas cards still sit on our coffee table. I am going to 'de-festivize' the place at the weekend. But first I have a few days of hard work ahead. It began today with some book writing, some new book proposal writing (more of that at a later date!), some book reviews  and some planning. I am a mad planner and list-maker so I enjoyed my first hour of the day. And tomorrow I'm off to university to get on with a pile of marking. I'm hoping for some fun essays to read.

While the PDC darts championship has finished, we are now enjoying the BDO version. D affectionately calls it 'council darts' and the standard is certainly a lot lower. But it's all good fun. Both my Stockport boys went out first round though. Boo!

So, as for New Year resolutions...well, I always manage to keep them for about 2 and a half days so I think I'll do without this year. We're pretty contented with the way life is going right now. We've both set wee challenges for ourselves over the coming months. Targets in all areas of life are really beneficial. I use them all the time in an academic context - deadlines and word counts. It is great to branch out and apply them to life more generally.

Anyways, I have washing to sort and D has challenged me to a PS3 rematch. I lost our basketball game miserably last night so am quite determined.

I'll post at the weekend, hopefully with something more interesting!