“you can dance and I will sing and merrily pass the day”

Snowdrops begin to shoot up through leaf litter. Fletcher Moss Park, Didsbury. January 2018.

Snowdrops begin to shoot up through leaf litter. Fletcher Moss Park, Didsbury. January 2018.

February is a month of pearl: the snow has nearly been completely replaced by the sheen of gold or royal purple croci. The bright white bells of snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) droop down as if contemplating the earth.

I submitted my PhD thesis on the 13th Feb, hooray! (Even after being hit with flu again just before finishing – who gets flu twice in less than 2 months? Seriously?! Me obviously…) Anyway, a chunk of goal 1 has been met! It will take anywhere from 6 – 10 weeks (perhaps longer) before I have to defend it. Trying to suspend panicking about this.


I’ve been trying to have a small break from thinking about: Rochdale or place theories or maps or the Northern Powerhouse (of course I’ve thought about all of these things). However, I have been trying to indulge in goal 3 (make stuff) over the last week through knitting a pair of socks. But have RSI in my middle finger which I’m going to blame on too much tension while sock knitting and watching some of the breathtaking, and incredible, Olympic snowboarding/skiing tricks. Annoyingly, this has coincided with the – expected but hard to take – post-thesis hand-in comedown after last week’s joyful relief of slam dunking it in. Knitting was keeping me sane! Ah well.

As for other goals:

  • Goal 3 (make stuff): Current RSI in finger has put knitting on hold, going to sew up my mum’s birthday present this evening.
  • Goal 4 (friends): Working on it! Sorry friends. Went to a family party in Bristol, though, so getting back into being sociable.
  • Goal 5 (make music): I’m not singing – yet. Will rectify this when I’m feeling a bit more up-for-it (winter = never a good time). It WILL happen. Yes.
  • Goal 6 (avoid despair, do stuff): Erg, with the current torrent of poo that is politics I suspect that this one may be a deal breaker. However, much solidarity with those affected by Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS pensions) who’re striking for their and their colleagues – and their colleagues to come – futures.

Goal 2 is currently in progress, however, I’m trying to take on more tutoring while looking for something a little more steady. I have had an application rejected recently which I was a little surprised about as I thought I was qualified enough to at least get to the interview stage – hey ho, one of those things. In the meantime, I am tutoring one student at the moment who is capable, creative and funny but a bit stubborn in completing homework tasks. When asked to give the synopsis of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde this was the response: “Jekyll’s just, like, chillin’ while Hyde does the killin’.” Teenagers are ace. I love teaching. (I have advised that this is perhaps not the best context to use when in exam conditions!)

Exciting writing collaborations and commissions are still happening so will post more when things are firmed up. And my heart is warmed by the return of blackbird song. Spring is definitely getting louder.

Song inspiration:
Samson & Delilah, ‘Begone Dull Care’, And Straight On Till Morning.

‘the blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me’

It’s been a while!

Moon on 1st January, not quite a super moon but still brilliant through the silver birch.

Moon on 1st January, not quite a super moon, still brilliant through the silver birch.

That new year freshness, a small glimmer, even in the constant Yorkshire rain. Not a blank page, perhaps a hopeful continuation.

These are not resolutions per se, more loose goals for this year (well, except goals 1 & 2; they’re fixed). Writing more is taken as a given so I’ve not included ‘write more’ as writing is part of who I am regardless of sharing it. I’ve not included more walking in wildlife too as above.

2018 Goals
1. Finish PhD thesis, hand it in, try to pass PhD. Take a short break after this to recover.
2. Find a job/some sort of paid work that draws upon goal 1.
3. Make at least one thing a month; crafting keeps me focussed and stops feelings of inadequacy; I can be joyfully amateur in this pursuit. Expect pictures of knitted objects/dresses over on Instagram.
4. Reconnect with friends.
5. Start singing again (I’ve now promised 2 people that I’d do this and I hate breaking promises).
6. Try not to get depressed about ongoing crappy political bobbins, but take action when possible/able.

There are continuing projects (two writing groups, some teaching and tutoring), and I’ve some ideas for projects – the sort of stuff to make the heart satisfied if not happy and not necessarily for cash. I’m trying to balance expectations, including my own. I can overstretch myself by being over-ambitious – sometimes too ambitious for my skill set – & this, as I discovered in December, leads to burnout & then succumbing to every bug that’s floating around northern England.

I am excited about an upcoming writing collaboration which I’ll share more of when it gets going (ooo, intrigue!).

Finally, I mentioned this site is changing last year. So, when blogging personal stuff, I’m going back to a convention I used over a decade ago when Livejournalling: trying to find song lyrics to sum up the blog post I’m writing. I’ll note the artist, song & album (where relevant) in case you want to look it up.

Song inspiration:
B.J Thomas / Burt Bacharach ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head’, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Original Score