Dear Santa, can you hear me?

Dear Santa, can you hear me?.


DITTO FOR ME TOO PLEASE – and as an early request sort my decking tree out!


Christmas is a Feminist Issue.

And the prize for the BAH HUMBUG blog entry in Christmas Week goes to The PhD PIMPERNEL *applause*


I am probably not the first woman,nor will I be the last, to feel that the pressure on the female of the species at this supposedly ‘Festive’ time of year is just incomparable.

I feel as though my head is going to explode and work is just not happening due to the constant demands for other things to get done.

I’d like to share with you an adaptation of the poem ‘IF” by Rudyard Kipling adapted by a fellow Blipper and friend, which for me sums up ( a little too kindly) the current situation for many women.

If You can Keep Your Head when all At Work and all around You
Are Screaming down the phone, and Shouting At You,
If You can trust yourself, to Run past Boots,
Without Buying up half the No 17 counter,
But Still remember to Buy Essentials.
If You can wait, On the 13 Minutes Past,
Even when it comes at 42 minutes Past,
And Not Be Fed up to the Back Teeth,
If They Lie to You, Don’t Accept their Guarantees,
You are better than that.

If You Can Dream, and Live Happily in them.
If You can Think, and Be Pleasantly Surprised,
If you can meet with Dolce & Gabba, and DKYN
And Know Fakes from Genuine and still be
Quite happy to buy the Cheapest Version.
If you can hear what you’ve said to someone
Spoken back and it sounds like utter drivel;
But see you Children fall and be hurt,
STOP and put them back together with your heart.

If you can take everything you have,
And Risk it on the Last Minutes Sales, 48 Hours before Christmas Day
And Find they aren’t Starting til Boxing day.
And Not Cry with Frustration, knowing the Prices will
Be So much better on 28th.
If you can Force a Smile, and Grit Your Teeth
And be nice to Everyone who Says “I’ve done all mine?”.
Go forth and buy everything required at Exorbitant Prices
Even tho your will says ?”Hold On”.

If you can walk down the High Street, and not Loose your head
Or walk through Malmasion, with your pants tucked in your skirt,
If No Evil Shop Assistant, or Vicious Conductor can hurt you,
If your daughter can count on you, to get exactly what she needs,
If you can fill the unforgiving Advent
With 12 Days of Bloody Shopping,
Yours will be Christmas and Everything it brings,
And, which is more, You will be A Mother, You will!

I find this time if year an incredible strain as despite the fact I am meant to be working FULL-TIME on a Ph.D come Christmas I am suddenly expected to make the holiday perfect for everyone else – if I delegate the job simply doesn’t get done the way it should be done, because it seems no one else is really that bothered; well until it isn’t done and then they wonder why!

My tree still isn’t up! My house is still not ready and I am taking a leaf out of the Man’s Handbook to Christmas – and I’m not bothering!

After a long rant to my mother (yes my MOTHER) she enquired if I was ‘on the change’ …

Christmas is most certainly a feminist issue!

The Academic Community

On the back of yesterday’s good news post I began to think of all the times I had been the recipient of another academics generosity. And there have been many.

SO here is my list of things that have made my life as an academic easier

  • My supervisors never fail to respond to emails promptly – which as any fraught student will know is invaluable. Their feedback can bite sometimes but I know when I do submit that my thesis will stand up to any scrutiny as it has already been seen by the most invested and thorough of eyes!
  • Support staff at my institute and others are usually the most accommodating, usually bending over backwards with the skill of a contortionist to provide the help and support I have needed.
  • When attending conferences I usually find the discussions are unrestricted and unguarded – information is freely shared and whilst some academic reticence is necessary there seems to be little jealousy. More a kind of shared enthusiasm for the subject.
  • Librarians – now libraries are usually a source of contention in any HE or FE institution. Book provision has to be the no.1 talked/complained about matter at any student/staff council. But setting that aside I have found librarians (the proper qualified kind with expertise knowledge in your field) to be the most patient  and generous with their time and knowledge. Our specialist librarian once had me in for a one to one session on how to search for information and locate archives. This was of a great help to me when I was floundering. Her name will be included in the acknowledgements to my thesis because it was as important to my research at that time as my supervisor’s feedback
  • National Libraries – busy busy places that deal with all levels of enquiry yet never fail to come up with the goods – they are like specialist librarians on speed – is there anything they don’t know?
  • Archives and repositories – the best place to get in touch with someone as enthusiastic as you are – the curator of any archive that relates to your topic! It’s a reciprocal relationship because you can learn from them but they can also learn from you!
  • Department faith in students – ours recently handed over book ordering responsibilities to the student. This means we can access our Coutts account and order books that we need in order to carry out our research effectively. They may be subject to approval but simply letting us be responsible is a great sign that our faculty trust us to behave in a grown up fashion.
  • Other academics inc. fellow students and bloggerstudents – Apart from yesterday’s wonderful gift I have also been given book chapters before they were published, as well as articles and information relevant to my work. One in particular involved other academics talking to each other so I got an advance copy of a seminal text that was not going to be complete for another 6-10 months – Thank you Peter Brooker and Jean-Michel Rabaté  for you utter selflessness … I bought the book!
  • Family and friends – last on the list maybe but never least. None of us could manage this without their unstinting support.

Sometimes in life it is just the right time to stop and smell the roses and realise things are never as bad as they seem – that in the darkness of that blinking black cursor and vastness of the empty white screen there is always a glimmer of light

Have a good Wednesday – I am off to write!

UPDATE ON SCRIVENER: it was so good I bought the license – I cannot imagine writing without it now. It just organises all the information you need into these neat little split windows – it shows you any view of the document you want and is adaptable for academic and non-academic writing. Well worth it. Even though I would say it still has a lot to offer that I haven’t tapped into and it is not glitch free or perfect, the forums are fantastic for tips and the software creator is constantly trying to improve the product with regular updates. If you are serious about writing it is well worth downloading the FREE 30 day trial! 

If you don’t ask – you don’t get!

Unexpected Generosity. Yes, it still exists; out there in the cold real world there are still people who surprise you with their kindness and without expectation of any reward. Believe it!

During the course of researching this current section of my thesis, I stumbled upon a paper published in The Women’s History Review in 2002, that was discussing points that I was planning to cover in my own work. I discovered that this paper was an extract from a D.Phil thesis lodge at the Bodleian in Oxford. It is absolutely necessary for me to read and be aware of its contents as to ignore something that was so closely to my topic would not survive scrutiny at VIVA.

So I emailed the relative librarian, who found the thesis in question and forwarded my request onto the Thesis Repository department at the Bodleian, who emailed me back with full instructions as to how I could obtain a copy (living in Scotland I have little opportunity to pop along and visit) They ~whilst being very accommodating and quick to respond ~  sent me a  overcomplicated email informing me that if I wanted to obtain a FREE copy of the thesis then I had to track down the author, get two signatures in person, return the appropriate paperwork, in triplicate (there were 4 attachments of forms with the email) and return it to them at which point they would provide me with a digital copy (no time scale was represented). If I couldn’t get TWO signatures they would do me a photocopy at £120 (yes I gawped too) plus P&P … but I still needed the author’s permission. I was informed I could trace the author through the relevant college’s administration department.

Luckily the first librarian had provided me with this information so I emailed them a polite request to put me in touch with their alumni Dr. F.  I received a very nice email in reply saying my details had been passed on and hopefully Dr. F. would be in touch.

Now I know a lot of academics. December is a busy month, especially if they are marking exams and assessments so I wasn’t holding my breath for an immediate response. But to my delight I received a reply, within hours of the response from Merton, from the (now) Professor asking how she could help.

I replied attaching the Bodleian’s email and attachments – and thought “once she sees that lot of stuff she’ll probably say she is too busy blah blah blah”

But no. I awoke this morning (She is based in America so we have a time difference negotiation going on as well)  to find a PDF copy of her thesis in my inbox witht he most delightful email saying “here is my thesis. After years of trying to negotiate the Bodleian rules I thought this would be far easier. Your research sounds fascinating. Good Luck” …

So a big cheer goes out to Oxford University, The Bodleian, Merton College Admin and the Librarian in the history department (who I have to say went above and beyond as the thesis was lodge with literature not history and technically I had emailed the wrong librarian – but she still helped anyway!) and not least to the wonder Prof. F at the university of Texas for her unparalleled generosity in providing me with a copy of her wonderful thesis!

How bloody wonderful is that! And what good start to the day. It just goes to prove – if you don’t ask you don’t get!

Now – in the spirit of Prof. F’s generosity I am going to attempt to pay it forward and suggest that if each of us did the same we could all make someone’s day a little brighter! So if you can do someone a kindness today then do so – it may change their lives forever, and even if it doesn’t it will make them smile.

Sitting Staring into the blankness …


been a bought week …\I am supposed to be writing – and i have managed do do precisely bugger all all week! I am sat here typing this and giving myself a stern talking to but it doesn’t seem to be working!


This just about sums it up for me this week! –

And I think this is pretty representative of me ..


Though I am trying to be all …

have a good weekend folks!

Time Out

Is very important and I managed to get a break away from study, family and life this weekend which has been fab …

Here are some of my pics from York … I had a ball with a good friend and even got chatted up! Go me – that hasn’t happened for years – they clearly like them chunky in Yorkshire!

A blog and run from me  … Hope the image gallery insert works!