I’ve had notification of the annual review process this week. This will be my last review. Three years seems a long time when you start out on this journey, but oh my, it rushes past you like a train. I’ve transferred to part-time for this last year to give me a bit more time, but still the sand is running out rapidly. I think I’ll get it done, I’m not worried about that. But will it achieve a PhD? That’s for next May; this year I need to just knock on and get it done.
And I have been knocking on this week. I’m quite pleased with my little self; which is not necessarily a good thing. The old proverb ‘pride come before a fall’ is a true one in my experience. I meet my team in a few weeks for feedback on the work I’ve been doing, so I won’t get too pleased with myself until then. I meant to work on the thesis last Sunday, but a nagging headache when I got up didn’t go away with a couple of paracetemol so I decided to leave brain work and do my ironing instead. Later in the day, headache a distant memory, I watched the Manchester Utd match against Arsenal, Arsene’s last visit to the Theatre of Dreams. I’m proud of the warm welcome Utd fans gave him as he came out onto the field: he has been a long-time committed and hard-working manager of Arsenal. Utd fans are the best.
I did get down to some work on Monday morning though. I had two laptops running: the Black Ladd laptop was installing a latest version of the Sage software the accountant had sent me. I was a bit worried about this process: the accountant said it didn’t need pass codes etc to install, but I remember what a pain the original installation was, so I was sceptical. But it went without a hitch. It’s a long job waiting for a programme to install, so I had my thesis laptop on my knee, working on it at the same time: this woman’s a Superwoman! I was mostly changing the position of work I’d already done: I woke up just knowing some of the poems I’d included needed to be in an earlier position, for instance. I was right. I moved them to the place I’d thought of and the whole thing read better for it. So that was the kind of job I was doing to the thesis on Monday: cut and pasting pieces, removing some quotes into footnotes because I felt they broke the flow. I didn’t add work, but I was pleased with the work I’d redrafted. When the Sage software installed at last, I had to work out how to install the back up of my accounts that the accountant had sent after going through them for the quarterly VAT. Again, Superwoman! I worked it out: it took a couple of unsuccessful attempts, but I did it in the end. Sage all up to date and running well and the thesis improved: I call that a good morning’s work.
On Tuesday I got down to the thesis with renewed vigour. I was at my desk for 8.00 a.m. I’m really enjoying this integrated approach to the writing. I’ve been thinking some theory, analysing some of Hill’s or Petit’s poetry to back-up the theory then including some of my own poems to illustrate what I’ve written about their work. It’s not perfect, but I keep working on it and polishing it up a bit. By lunchtime I had increased the word count to 14000 words. I told my Director of Studies I’d send him 16000 words in the summer. It’s summer already. My plan is to work on it for two more days, then send off whatever I have next week prior to going to Scarborough for a writing week. That way I won’t have to drag it along to work on in the early hours. I can concentrate on adding to the creative aspect while I’m away.
Wednesday was all taken up with my little job at the Black Ladd. It went well, but there was a lot to do, catching up with work I didn’t get done while I was in St. Ives. I’m determined to be up to date before I go to Scarborough, so I worked until late afternoon. That’s the problem with the new tax year: so much added work setting up the year’s standing orders etc. By the time I left work everything—even the filing—was up to date. Next week should be easier for it. On Thursday life got in the way again. I had a dental appointment at 8.00 then we took Bill’s car for its MOT and annual service. I met Hilary in Uppermill for coffee afterwards, to plan our route to Eccles for the Greenpeace reading on Friday. Yes, OK, it was an excuse. We took our coffee al fresco: it was a lovely morning. After lunch Bill had the bad news from the garage. He knew he needed work on the brake pads; but the salted roads in winter had taken their toll on the undercarriage and springs and the bill for potential work would be £2400. Ouch! He has a service plan with Pentagon though, which comes with discounts on any work that needs doing, so the discounts reduced that by half, which was heart-warming. Thatcher used to do that, didn’t she? Give you a huge figure for costs, then when it only came to a big, not a huge, figure, you’d think you’d got off lightly as taxpayers. Well that’s how Bill felt on Thursday. The work’s being done next week.
Friday was the best day of the week. It involved poetry, which is always a good day. Hilary and I went to Eccles, where Ann Heathcote had organised a poetry event to raise funds for Greenpeace. She was angry and desperate after watching David Attenborough’s Blue Planet earlier in the year; we all were, but she did something about it. She enlisted Clare Shaw and Kim Moore to donate their time to the evening. Clare ran a poetry workshop in the early evening: Hilary and I both went. It was good stuff; I think I may have some poems. In the evening Clare and Kim both read; it goes without saying, they were brilliant. There were musicians: the thirteen year old violinist was an inspiration and the woman who sang Portuguese songs: what a voice! I’m sorry I can’t remember their names and the publicity can’t be accessed, but they were brilliant. There was an open mic as well: Hilary and I both read. We took copies of the hand-stitched pamphlet we’d made of our poetry and sold them on the night; all proceeds to Greenpeace. Our pamphlets added £33 to the pot. There was a tombola with signed poetry books that Clare had cadged from her poet friends; there was a raffle with wonderful prizes that Ann had begged: poetry books, stationery, afternoon tea, Waterstones tokens, bottles of booze. It was such a good night. And all the money taken went into the pot. The Eccles Masonic Hall venue was donated too; and they offered to top the fund by 5%. Altogether the event raised £1317.47: what a brilliant result and a brilliant evening. Thank you Ann for organising it. You are a Superwoman too. Your hard work really paid off. It was well after midnight when we got home, too buzzed up with poetry to even think of sleeping.
So, Bank Holiday weekend: they’re all bank holidays when you’re retired. Saturday I was back at my desk; another really good day on the thesis. I also checked all my footnotes to make sure they made sense. When you take a ‘cut and paste’ approach it can mess with your referencing so I checked them thoroughly. I think they are OK now; and I used the Style Guide so I think they are all present and correct and in the house style. I will have a substantial piece of work to send to the team next week. Which will be in very good time for the annual review. That will be my next big job: preparing the documentation for that. Well, what else have I got to do?
Later today I’m off to Stamford to see my sister. It’s her birthday on Tuesday. She retired last Tuesday, so we’re taking her out to lunch to celebrate both events. I hope she enjoys retirement as much as I do. It really has been the best time of my life: just a shame you have to be an old bugger before you get to indulge. So, I don’t have a poem this week. I have lots of drafts of poems from workshops I’ve been on lately, but nothing I want to share yet. Sorry. I promise to try harder next week, but Bill has just got up, so I think it’s time to get moving. I won’t get to Stamford if I sit in bed redrafting poems all day!
Have a good week.