Thursday, February 10, 2011

Living Stole

I saw a ginger tom cat draped across the shoulders of his similarly red-headed and bearded owner last night on the bus. The tom was wearing a bright blue knitted cat jumper. His owner was getting quite irritable as the traffic was bad, but he couldn't get off because the driver wouldn't open the door between stops. The cat was flicking his tail in irritable sympathy with his owner, but he still looked very comfy slung around his owner's neck. What a nice way for a cat to see the sights of central London life!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Tiny Output

There's an enthusiastic comment in a video about my paper from a young man who attended a conference I did last autumn at the Horniman Museum (wrong surname, but I know who he means). He did a great summary of the discussion at the end as well and his comments are very nice. I'm sure he will go far in whatever he chooses to do in life. We had to give a copy of our papers to groups of young people at the museum to read beforehand, then do discussion sessions with them a few weeks later at the conference. Mine wasn't recorded because we had a last minute room change. It's an interesting format for an event for anyone working in Higher Education, especially as there is a preoccupation with audience engagement (amongst other things) in relation to research at the moment. It's useful to think about how, or indeed whether, your own subject is relevant to anyone outside academia's so-called ivory towers, even for embryonic 'early-career' researchers such as myself. It's a good thing to have to write for different audiences too, avoiding as much jargon as possible.

I know it's an 'output' (as they are called in research jargon) albeit a modest one, but I wish I had done it better. It was not one of my best conferences unfortunately as I had a stomach bug and felt really sick. Queasy, like I wanted to vomit. Spew. (But I didn't). Swigging large quantities of water throughout the event got me through it, but it's a shame I didn't manage to attend more of the events planned as they looked really varied and interesting.  Aah well, ifs and wishes and buts are pointless and I suppose it's all part of the lengthy learning experience of trying to be a researcher in academia. Maybe seasoned conference-presenters have a spectrum of techniques to draw on in these situations to save the day.

One naively thinks some significant conclusion has been reached with the completion of one's PhD, but then the realisation dawns that it's just the beginning  [a slightly sinister and knowing post-doctoral laugh would finish this sentence off nicely].  I don't know if I have the energy or the motivation to think about all this right now, but I am very tired of working seven days a week for what seems like little money or reward. Perhaps after a better night's sleep, things will seem better too....or maybe it's an expected part of the ongoing malaise affecting HE. I don't know. Back soon in a hopefully cheerier mood.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Crimson Trousers

My doctor was wearing an impressive richly coloured pair of crimson jumbo cord trousers when I visited him recently. They coordinated well with the red and gold swagged curtains and red velvet screen. Quite flamboyant, considering the circumstances. Not very GP-ish, but a suitable colour for sickly patients I think, a much healthier looking shade than anaemic whiteish-beigey-magnolia for the usual decor of NHS rooms and conservative, rather dull dress.

It reminded me of Winston Churchill's red velvet one piece siren suit (left). It's difficult to imagine him lounging around in red velvet when the usual image of him is the cigar-smoking, overcoat clad, portly figure in photographs from WW2.  I saw the suit displayed in an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum once. We did a double-take when we read the label to that exhibit as it seemed so odd, but there it was. Apparently he also had blue and green ones made up for him by a Savile Row tailor. Garments are an interesting starting point for taking you on unexpected journeys into people's lives, or questioning one's own preexisting stereotypes, aren't they.

Image from Culture24 -  24 Hour museum.