It’s been a busy week. I travelled back from Grange and the poetry carousel after Sunday lunch. This was an unusual writing weekend: only five writing exercises altogether with four tutors; but I feel as if I have five good poems from the weekend. Usually you would have one or two that would make the waste bin. I’ll post one later in this blog, a light-hearted poem about work.
On Monday I went into Manchester to finish my Christmas shopping. It was lovely to ‘do’ the Christmas markets with The Grinch but I didn’t let him steal Christmas. We managed to get our shopping all done. We had lunch in Proper Tea, the old Cathedral cafe. I love it there. We had a glass of gluhwein in Albert Square, with the huge Father Christmas looking down on us from the Town Hall; apparently you can see it from space. That’s nice for Major Tim Peake then, isn’t it? We had a glass of wine in the Royal Exchange bar, by which time The Grinch was beginning to turn slightly less green and relax a bit. We went for dinner in The Rice Bowl before going to Carol Ann Duffy and Friends at the Royal Exchange in the evening, another lovely event. The stand-out reader from the MMU writing school for me was Mark Pajak: make a note of the name. Little Machine had top billing, a group of musicians (guitars, keyboard, drums) who had collaborated with Carol Ann Duffy on Christmas story, The Dark Rose. They performed the work with a backdrop of video representations. It was lovely, some rock, some punk; a really pleasant and different event.
Tuesday saw me settled down to the rewrite of RD1. I had started it in Grange but was determined to finish it on Tuesday, at least as a second draft and email it to my team. I worked for five hours without a break, although I didn’t realise that until I thought it was done and looked at my watch. I read it through a couple of times, corrected a couple of typos, then went to get lunch. I think email is sometimes too instant and regret can set in very quickly after pressing the ‘send’ button. So I waited until after lunch, had another re-read, decided I could trust it and sent it out to earn its keep again. My only concern is that there may not be enough detail in it to satisfy the academics who will judge it. But it is difficult to know where the detail will be until the research is done, so it’s a kind of Catch 22. I await feed back.
On Tuesday evening I went for a lovely meal with two poets friends. We were in Grange together, so apart from the wine, the food and the chat, we also shared the poems we wrote over the weekend, all very different, all well worth a read.
In between all this, I have been carrying on with the Freud reading: Three Essays On The Theory Of Sexuality. I realise I am only surface reading at the moment. After Christmas, when life settles into something approximating to ‘normal’, I will read more critically, really get to grips with his work. But when my son was doing his English A level, too many years ago to be believable, I always told him to just read the books first, get a drift of the story, before doing the analytical thing, which can destroy a work of art by fragmenting it before you have a picture of the whole. So I have been taking my own advice, and in my opinion it still holds true. I can’t wait to deep read now I have the gist.
So, I guess this is the end of term 1. I may still have work to do on RD1, we’ll see. But when I think how intrepidated (is that even a word?) I felt in September, I realise I am feeling much more at ease with this idea of a PhD now. I still have a long way to go; and I still don’t know if I’ll get to the end. But I feel better about taking the steps, one foot in front of the other to cover the ground. And so far I have been true to my promise to self, not to abandon any aspect of my life that is important to who I am.
On that happy note, a lighthearted poem about work:
A Topping Job
When I was old enough to have the confidence
but too young to see the frightening possibilities
I accepted the offer of a job in a canning factory,
first aider, evening shift.
My station, my red cross box, was in the factory
laboratory by a large window where women paid ten bob
a shift less than me worked like slaves
topping and tailing carrots by hand. For my part,
I knitted. In the four months I worked for Chivers-
Hartley-Schweppes my output was four matinee jackets,
three hats and scarves, two jumpers
and a pair of bedsocks for Gran. On the hour,
every hour, this vital work was interrupted by the need
to weigh a can of carrots in brine, compliant with some law.
Once in a while I even applied a Band Aid to a cut thumb.