Friday, 4 May 2018

Mixed pleasures

Things that have really ground my gears this week:
Unpromising election results;
The most outrageous bullying from management (apparently the word 'bullying' is banned by order);
The threat of redundancy hanging over our heads;
Haven't had a chance to read much;
Taxis - specifically DU03GKE – pulling out of side-roads without checking for oncoming traffic, i.e. me on a bike;
Not having time to write next week's conference paper.

Things that made up for this misery:
Birthday celebrations (not mine);
Seeing Yo La Tengo: they meld live-looping, walls of sound and pure pop hooks for audiences consisting solely of PhD-holders and other bands;

Reading some really excellent UG dissertation drafts;
Fencing again, though I'm really feeling decrepit;
Colleagues and students being lovely about the teaching award I got.

Mind you, I've always been with Slartibartfast on most things: keep going on in exactly the same way and occasionally what you do will seem new and laudable.

Perhaps I’m old and tired, but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is say “hang the sense of it” and just keep yourself occupied. Look at me, I design coastlines, I got an award for Norway. Where’s the sense in that? None that I’ve been able to make out. I’ve been doing fiords all my life, for a fleeting moment they become fashionable and I get a major award. In this replacement Earth we’re building they’ve given me Africa to do, and of course, I’m doing it will all fjords again, because I happen to like them. And I’m old fashioned enough to think that they give a lovely baroque feel to a continent. And they tell me it’s not equatorial enough… what does it matter? Science has achieved some wonderful things of course, but I’d far rather be happy than right any day!
And are you?

No. That’s where it all falls down of course.

It worked for my habitual uniform of cords, cardigans and v-necks, and it works for teaching too. I'm determined to make it come true for Dorothy Edwards and Trembling Blue Stars eventually.

Next week is looking up: I'm going to the Metamodernism conference at Keele University on Tuesday, then off to the Association for Welsh Writing in English annual conference Fri-Sun. It's always a good one, and I'm not just saying that because I take the minutes. It's in a Victorian stately home in mid-Wales, it's friendly, supportive and intellectually challenging, and there are no Manels. My as yet-embryonic piece will be the low point that adds lustre to the other presentations, but for what it's worth I'm looking at kitchens and food in Welsh literature as aspects of perceived national character, from O.M. Edwards's Cartrefi Cymru to Rachel Tresize's Fresh Apples. The tl;dr version is: everyone's obsessed with butter, and blancmange is for English homosexualists. The more meat characters eat, the more neofascist they are. Or perhaps it's the other way round. Don't @ me, this is the product of intensive research.

1 comment:

Alan said...

Nationally, the results seem quite decent for Labour, though you wouldn't realise it from the negative spinning by Chuckup Whoishe and his little friends.

Locally, maybe there's a research project for your colleagues in the sociology dept. Why does the white working class in Walsall and Dudley fall for right-wing populist bullshit, while Sandwell and Wolvo seem immune?