Got through the week ok, despite having a cold. The conference was as I expected, rather a lot of technical 'snags' despite lots of planning, but that's it till next year. It's an unexpected bonus of doing a conference paper when you feel crap - your nervousness disappears, probably with a large proportion of your intellectual capacity and enthusiasm, but ho hum, that's life. Possibly not very sensible to curse quietly to yourself when the laptop goes into 'sleep mode' if you're standing on a stage in front of a microphone either.
First batch of final year dissertation tutorials done too, and a nice mixture of topics. Size zero models to sustainability, mourning jewellery to religious icons and Freud... the latter was nearly going to be about criminals, as her dad's in the Met, but she changed her mind. I'd have preferred the criminology topic, but it's not my choice to make, as they can do whatever they like.
Probably more than half of the students changed their ideas completely over the summer, so I now realise there's not much point doing too much preparation in future. One asked if she could change from doing the body and 'second skin' to chocolate, as she was more excited by it. Fine by me, after the initial wave of utter horror had passed.
'Horror'??? But everyone loves chocolate, don't they??? A colleague said Mmmm, hope she's going to bring you in some samples! Ooh, no thanks, I hope not. I know it's only a written dissertation on paper and she's not going to make me touch, sniff or eat the stuff, but my first reaction was of dicing with danger.... I've got an extreme allergy to anything with cow's milk in it, even microscopic quantities induce anaphylaxis. I swell up, stop breathing and lose consciousness in minutes. And die, if I don't inject myself with adrenaline and get an ambulance in time.
So the sweet smell of chocolate to some is the putrid stench of possible death to me. A bit melodramatic, but it makes my point. I'm finding it mildly amusing that I'm going to be spending time over the next few months on a subject that would kill me. The Anaphylactic Academic's equivalent of extreme sports by proxy, maybe.
When you start doing dissertation tutorials with students, you can't help noticing things related to their topics that maybe might not have registered in your mind before. The chocolate subject is really interesting, as it's only a load of sugar, cocoa and milk. People get so obsessed with it, and the way it's marketed seems totally unrelated to what it actually is. There was a chocolate fountain mentioned in the wedding plans of a young couple in Coronation Street (Brit TV soap opera) the other night (Sarah Platt, the teenage mum). I couldn't help thinking it was written into the script in a snobby social class sort of way - as if it was a tacky, bad taste thing that wealthy but working-class footballer's wives would have, making it something to be aspired to by ordinary people impressed by the trappings of celebrity. Maybe I'm wrong, but will continue thinking about it!
I like the way the chocolate fountain in the image is lit up from underneath that pink plastic base... illuminates the fruit dips beautifully! (I'm not being sarcastic either, it reminds me of fairy lights, which I'm also rather partial to).
Oh yes, nearly forgot!!! Well, no I didn't, but I'm trying not to be too excited, as it's not very modest. I got 'writing up' status for my first draft of my PhD on Friday, after the meeting with the Professors which I was actually dreading. So I'm officially into my *final year* and have saved loads of money in fees. Apparently I write very well and it's a fascinating subject. Absolutely loads of work to do from now on, but it's a good milestone to reach in a project of this size. It's boosted my confidence a bit too, as you start to oscillate between thinking your work could be either total genius or utter bollocks after a while, as you're too close to it to be objective.
Anyway, that's that for now - have to finish stuff for tomorrow (first seminar of my autumn course) and still feel a bit manky, so I think I'll get on with it.