Thursday, 28 July 2011

Up the irons!

Last night we took a trip out to Nottingham and, after grappling with the world's most claustrophobic car park, we made out way to the Trent Arena to enjoy a night with Iron Maiden. I arrived wondering if I was the only person present who had done a midday yoga class and eaten sushi for lunch. We were certainly two of the few who weren't wearing Eddie t-shirts. And I came away with a hankering for a tattoo. But, as usual with recent gigs, the night totally defied my expectations. Everyone we met was wonderful - polite, kind and totally up for a big rock party. And crikey, it was loud! My ears are still slightly sore this evening!

My highlight of the night was definitely 'Fear of the Dark' which is my favourite Iron Maiden track, although I really enjoyed 'Coming Home' too. There was much air guitar and arms in the air. It was a night that would have challenged anyone's preconceptions of hard rock. Yes, they did sing 'Number of the Beast' but it's a far more interesting song that you might expect and, no, it isn't about worshipping the Devil. Yes, the iconography is all skeletons etc, but it really comes down to a group of nice old rockers and a euphoric, passionate crowd. As D said, the images are more Sharpe than Satan. Bruce even donned an army red coat. Brilliant. Anyways, all in all it was a great night but my poor ears need a break.

My days are full of proofreading and listening to the swimming world championships on the radio. This happy, relaxed lifestyle will continue through August as I get to grips with some new projects. Other than that I've been enjoying the wrestling with Triple H taking over the WWE, the return of JR and CM Punk strutting about in the belt. But that is for another post...

Cup of tea beckons...

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Happy days

Apologies for the lack of posts this week. I've spent most days chained to my computer proofreading so by the evening I've been less than keen to stare at a screen! But here we are. Today was spent with our dear friends from LEC. They have two children so we took them water skiing at Holme Pierrepoint. It was brilliant fun, though I was rubbish. D persevered and definitely got the 'crash of the day' award. It is a really intense sport and you go extremely quickly. Developed a love of wet suits - surely the world's most comfortable garment. We came back for computer games, pizza and homemade ice-cream. A great day, though I must admit I feel pretty sleepy this evening.

So, what else has been occurring in Lincoln? Well, University Challenge is back and we've been enjoying the new series, I've started my flat declutter and feel better about it all already and we've sorted out some of the arrangements for our forthcoming trip Stateside. I am so looking forward to seeing our friends and enjoying two weeks across the pond. It's going to be a very chilled out time of baseball, music festivals and exploring. Lovely! Apart from that it has mostly been work. It seems as if a lot of new projects are coming up at the moment, all with deadlines in the next two weeks. On top of the final book read it is all feeling pretty busy. It is brilliant to feel as if things are really taking off and I'm so glad for all the opportunities.

Anyways, I'm off for a rest and another cuppa. I might even watch telly for a bit. Saturday night chez Warden.

Not another wipeout! 

Monday, 18 July 2011

A day in the library

So, today I've been hanging about the National Library of Scotland, one of my favourite academic dens. And joyfully (and in a first for the NLS) I was even warm enough to take my cardie off! I thought you might like to hear a brief précis of my top three thoughts of the day:

1) I spent a lot of time reading poetry today...which was nice. And I found my new favourite short poem by Auden...

T.S. Eliot is quite at a loss
When clubwomen bustle across
At literary tea
Crying, 'what, if you please,
Did you mean by 'The Mill on the Floss'.

Cracking, huh!? I laughed for two minutes together.

2) I am doing a lot of work on a little known British poet called James Elroy Flecker. His work is a bit up and down to be honest but today I found two of his best: 'Doris' and 'Bryan of Brittany'. I mean, seriously, are there any less poetic names than these? Brilliant!

3) Over a bowl of delish NLS soup I enjoyed a chapter of Richard Feynman's first book. He is a bit of an inspiration for me - an amazing teacher and academic leader. And, rather brilliantly, in the chapter I was reading today he has the same thoughts about dreaming as I have always had. I have always been fascinated by sleep and dreaming, largely because my dreams are so vivid. Feynman did some experiments and found that he could control his dreams. I can do this too! I once died in a dream and then chose which other character I wanted to be. Perhaps this means I too will be a genius, Nobel prize winning academic. Or not...

And my study day was topped off by reading 'I am Baby' with my sweet niece. Definitely my reading highlight.

Back home to D tomorrow evening.


Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Tree of Life

So, if you follow me on Twitter you will know that we are in Edinburgh/Glasgow/Brechin this weekend seeing friends and fam and having a couple of days in the library. It's been a fun time of late nights and plenty of chat so far. Off for a special lunch out in a while at an old haunt: the Open Arms at Dirleton.

On Thursday night we arrived back from Brechin pretty late and went straight to the Cameo to watch Terence Malik's 'The Tree of Life'. Now, due to Lincoln's one cinema situation and distinct lack of independent movie houses (there is a definite business there for anyone who fancies) this film is not showing within a 50m radius. But here in the cultural hotbed that is Edinburgh there are plenty of choices. D was delighted to have the chance to see this film as he really likes Malik. He has dragged me to a number of his films over the years and I've really enjoyed them all.

So, what of 'The Tree of Life'? Well, it is a very weird film and I can understand why it divided the Cannes audience so much. On the one hand it is a film about a family in the 60's, on the other it is about the whole of the universe from start to finish. Hmm... Oh and there are dinosaurs! But what to make of this intriguing film? Well, as you might expect, D and I talked about it for ages and decided that actually there were probably as many reactions as there were people in the cinema. It has a fascinating and poignant Biblical side which meant a great deal to D and I, of course, but might leave an atheist unmoved (in fact I would be really interested to know what you made of it if this is you)and there were some amazing performances especially from the children. The cinematography was incredible, truly breath-taking. It was very long and felt very long, though I wasn't bored. The film contained a strange, unusual moving tempo; sometimes there was super quick cutting and at other times slow scans of the horizon. I enjoyed it very much though, be warned, pretentious hippy nonsense is ones of my favourite genres! Especially if it starts with the book of Job, one of the Bible's more confusing, challenging and, interestingly given the pacing of the film, long-winded books of the Bible.

Anyways, would be intrigued if anyone has seen it.

I'm off to drink first cup of tea of the day. I know it's late for a first one, huh? And to watch the golf. I become an Open junkie at this time of year.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Like a bridge over troubled water

Evening friends,
We had a great time with the family at the weekend - the sun shone and all was well. Since then it has been two days of little faffy book jobs and new projects. I've got three new articles in the pipeline. Spent the morning feeling passionate about the first paper which is based on our spring student project. It connects with the brilliant student as producer initiative at the University.

Apart from that it has been super quiet. We watched a silly film, 'Knight and Day', last night. Thoroughly enjoyable rubbish! And I've been busying myself with house tasks and little jobs (phone calls, booking train tickets and the like). We're off to Edinburgh tomorrow for a work/leisure combo trip and there seem to be a lot of wee jobs to get finished before then. Glad to have one more day of faffing before we head off. As usual I'm looking forward to nearly five hours worth of musical gems as we head up the A1. D has been working on his iPod playlist this evening. I've heard wafts of Simon and Garfunkel and Dave Gilmour so it seems fairly promising!

Hope everyone has a great end of week/weekend. Lots of exciting stuff coming up over the next few weeks so I promise that more exciting blog posts are on their way about such varied subjects as academic blogging, the end of the book, America, BBC workshops and...Iron Maiden. Where else could you find such a mix?


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Is there anybody out there revisited

So here we sit (the whole fam as the Wardens and Youngs the Elder have arrived for the weekend) watching Roger Waters footage on YouTube. D and I reminisce quite a bit about 'The Wall' gig. It was so unbelievable. And when I see that incredible projection in 'Comfortably Numb' I always feel a bit funny inside! We've had a great weekend with the fam - weather has been sunny all day, had a great lunch out at Doddington Hall, ice-cream at Dairy Made in Skellingthorpe and a couple of brief walks around Lincoln. All very jolly.

The lack of posts since Tuesday have been largely down to two things: 1) a distinct lack of anything particularly interesting to say and 2) focusing on the last stages if the book.
My chapter five restructure has proven to be a good move and I feel so much happier with it. There have been some new projects and I've had the great privilege of writing a guest article for a brilliant site called phd2published which will be up and about in a week and a bit. Check out the website if you are between the Phd and your first big publication. These guys give super advice.

Anyways, more tea beckons and a wee bit of washing up to finish. Goodbye cruel world...

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Raised in Captivity from a tidier office...

...after many weeks of home office chaos I finally decided that I could cope no longer and had a big tidy up. While things are still in piles, at least all my playscripts are organised and I can find my research notes. The latter was particularly important today as, after many months of concentrating almost entirely on the Book, I finally decided that an afternoon on other projects may prove beneficial to my state of mind. I was right! Three new journal articles in the pipeline and they all feel a lot clearer now. The new ipad has been extremely helpful as I reorganise my research plans. Finally everything is in the same place in beautiful files. Ah, there is nothing like a spring clean for the mind!

I am writing this while listening to the new John Wetton album, 'Raised in Captivity' which arrived today. Now I have adored lovely John for a few years now and of all the music on my computer, his back catalogue is the stuff I listen to most. His lyrics are always beautiful and his tunes are so stunningly melodic. As you would expect for a guy who plied his trade with UK and King Crimson, he is an incredible musician. If anything his voice is getting better as he gets older. And after a brush with death and finally dealing with his demons, his music is consistently positive - all about living well, breaking away from past troubles, honouring others and making the most of opportunities. I have only listened to this album once but it is definitely a keeper. There are a few more nods to his proggy roots than you'd find in his Asia/Icon stuff, unsurprising given some of the top names he's worked with here. There are less ballads and more rock which I appreciate and I'm pretty sure it'll go down well with the UK/KC fans. D seems pretty happy with it anyways if he is anything to go by. But there's also some jolly folkie influences and, as this is my background, I'm always glad to hear some strummed acoustic chords. Go John!

It's 9pm on a Tuesday - I've got some green tea in my wee Chinese teapot to keep me company and my HEA fellowship material to get to grips with. It's rock n' roll all the way chez Warden! I have a few days of library faff, yoga, tea with friends, more work on the new projects and house sorting. We're looking forward to having the Warden/Young clan to stay at the weekend (the other reason for cleaning the office!) and are hoping the weather stays jolly. Lincoln is the warmest place in the world right now!

Have a great few days one and all.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Taking a break... I sit at my desk proofreading the final chapter. The sun is shining and I am catching up with Kermode and Mayo's film review on BBC iplayer. Man, I love those guys! So I thought I'd take a wee break and fill you in on the comings and goings of this week. Highlights? Being retweeted by the Guardian  (fame at last!), faculty research day (a mix of inspiration and terror!), tennis (hoorah for Rafa, poor old Roger), book rejigging (in a fit of pique I have totally redesigned chapter 5 - I must be mad!) and D's birthday. Also much fun and fascination with the Guardian's live chat yesterday. Check it out if you are interested in academic publishing. It was really helpful.

Last night (after D's belated birthday tea) we watched 'The King's Speech'. I've wanted to watch this film for a while now and have heard unanimously positive things about it. So I guess I had very high expectations. I wasn't blown away (says I, ducking under the parapet while friends throw things). Colin Firth is good, but he is really playing Colin Firth with a stammer. I didn't find any of the characters particularly endearing and there is a bit in Westminster Abbey which doesn't make any sense at all. Historically it was very dodgy indeed. And, while I've spent the past few weeks watching inspirational and beautiful Chinese films, 'The King's Speech' just didn't move me at all. How the Tom Hooper beat Christopher Nolan to Best Director I will never, ever know. Sorry guys, I was quite disappointed.

Anyways, after that revelation I think I should get back to chapter 6. Kermode and Mayo are reviewing 'Transformers 3' - totally hilarious! As I battle through the final stage of the proofreading process, I am beginning to yearn for new projects. I have a long list and can't wait to get started. But my birdy friends outside my office window are keeping me company. There are three nests in the trees and they all seem to get along famously. The blue tits are currently playing silly games in the sunshine.

Enjoy the weekend