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Showing posts from 2013

The Doctor and I

With the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary upon us, and my merciless spamming of Who related articles, videos triva and general fangirl squealing, it seems only fitting that I write a blog about what the Doctor means to me. It seemed so simple when I thought of this blog idea, but actually articulating it is much more difficult. For some people Doctor Who is a fun TV show they enjoy, for some, like me it's so much more.

I'm the 'lost generation' of Whovians, the ones who didn't get to hide behind the sofa as children. The ones who didn't play at being Daleks and Cybermen in the playground and who never, as a youngster had to go through the heartbreak of seeing your best friend the Doctor's face change before your eyes and be replaced by someone who just wasn't quite right. Until the next one came along.

That doesn't mean that Doctor Who is any less important or hasn't been any less formative in my life. For me instead of my childhood Doctor Who define…

A real low point

I'm going to try and do more generic 'PhD' updates, just because it might help my sanity at this point, and because I quite like reading other people's so maybe there are people who like mine? (they do say misery loves company)

Also because I'm coming out of a hellish week. This time last week I spent most of the day in tears, and another day later that week. It was directly and indirectly PhD related at once.

Today I sent off a batch of chapters to my one supervisor.  A big part of my stress levels and general unhappy mindset last week, the deadline for this is slightly accelerated from what we'd previously agreed due to one of them leaving to take another job in January. Although this comes with some (mainly logistical and administrative) issues it's actually a blessing because it's really focused the team and me and forced me to submit work faster. Hopefully as well, I'll get detailed feedback too which I can work on over the Christmas 'break…

Being in it.

I think it's fair to say I've had better weeks.

Actually for once the PhD itself isn't the issue. Yes if I think about it too hard I could panic or spiral into a 'it's never going to be finished or good enough' type mindset. But generally if I'm plodding along with it, then it's ok, until I realise how little time I have to plod on with it.

It's the demands of everything else that is the problem. Not even the things themselves so much as the strange effect everything has when you're 'in the thick of it.' and that clawing feeling that so few people understand.

It was like a revelation last week when someone said to me (ok let's be honest my crying self) "Yes but everyone else isn't doing a PhD at the same time" if I wasn't already crying I'd have cried with happiness that someone got it and vocalised it. That someone both said it and was willing to use it as a reason to excuse me, not even excuse maybe just expla…

The National at 50

I've written this because I can't articulate my feelings about the NT50 celebration in any kind of social media format, and because even after sleeping on it I can't stop thinking about it.

I love the National Theatre, it's been a focus of my research for over three years now, and it's very much at the centre of my theatre going life. I admire the work done by those who work there and I think it is very much at the centre of British theatrical life. That said I am not blinkered, sometimes they get things wrong But isn't that the essence of being an arts organisation, you take risks, you get it wrong sometimes. If they weren't getting things wrong they wouldn't be innovating, so I forgive, embrace those things. And anyway one person's wrong in art is another person's just right.

Of course with all celebratory performances/programmes this could have hit the wrong tone. And that worried me. That it would be filled with sycophantic pomp and not enou…

Virtual PhD

I read another PhD related blog the other day about the importance of social media to PhD students in combating loneliness. (here: the conversation ) which resonated all to clearly with me.

For me the social media aspect and the loneliness of the PhD are things I relate to. I had come from four years of a busy job in which I was interacting with people all day, the last year of which teaching in a Secondary school is about as far away from the isolation of sitting at home with a PhD as you can get.  I'm also part of a very small research community in my University, and an even smaller one within my department. And while I get on well with the other people in the School it's hard not having the shared language of the same subject area. Particularly when the disciplines and approach of the people I shared space with were so different. Luckily I've managed to make friends with other PhD students from nearby Universities.

Because the thing is no matter how understanding your f…

The National Theatre...50 years young?

So the National Theatre is 50 years old today.

The National is an important theatre to me. All theatres are important so this one is maybe 'special'. I've spent the last three years researching a production that took place there, I've written conference papers on performances there and all but absorbed the entire history in the process. And it's also given me some great theatrical memories.

I first set foot in the National for, fittingly Caroline or Change Tony Kushner's musical in 2006. As a latecomer to theatre in general (that's for another blog) this was still fairly formative in my theatre going life. My time living in London was spent at several productions, platforms and other events. I even got to sit in on a rehearsal or two with my MA course. (seven years later and a crush on Rory Kinnear later, I curse my 22 year old self for not taking more mental notes in one of those...) And several years down the line, the National has woven itself into my th…

Running away from Men in Roath...and other dating adventures...

So in a possibly misguided burst of enthusiasm a friend and I declared Autumn 'Dating Season' in which we would put more (read, any at all) effort into dating. Another friend was roped in and we thought we had a genius idea.

Yesterday I found myself running from a farmer's market to avoid a man.

So far, not so great then?

I would have thought that online dating was in fact perfect for me. I spend way too much time working at my computer, and way too much time looking for distractions so it seems too good to be true. Sadly it is. Aside from managing to briefly date a member of a well known male voice choir, which felt more like a therapy session than a date,  my online dalliances have been unsuccessful. Earlier in the year I logged onto a dating website, more for the purposes of procrastination than actual intention (and who doesn't window shop a little on every now and then?) the third person down was my old boss. I closed the window and ran (metaphorically)…

Review: The Fifth Estate

It's rare I review a film...actually it's rare I actually make it to a film in the cinema, so 'The Fifth Estate' must have made an impression.
Several people walked out of this film last night. Not that I'm judging, but I don't think it was because of the controversial or potentially upsetting subject matter (they actually left long before the clip of the Afghanistan war footage was even shown) but because the film requires brain power. Now I'm not judging (well ok I'm judging) I'm not being holier than thou about not wanting a film that requires brain power (one glance at my DVD collection will tell you that) but it perhaps should have been obvious from the title/description this film would take a little work.
Though maybe they were there for the Cumberbatch and were disappointed. Because Cumberbatch is essentially gone in this film, replaced by an eerily accurate Assange (Assangebatch if you will) Now obviously as an actor it's expected to in…

"Just get a job"

"Just get a job"

If I had a pound for every time I've heard that in the past 3 years I well, I wouldn't need a job.

There are several strands to this attitude that irritates me as a PhD student.

Firstly that the PhD is in some way an indulgent waste of time, a hobby or a means to delay the 'real' world. Now I can't speak for all PhD students obviously and for some this may indeed be the case. But for myself I've always viewed the PhD as the direct and only route into the work I want to do. I view it as an apprenticeship into the world of academia, a training ground as much as a qualification. So much more so than my previous degrees, in doing the PhD I am gaining the skills and experience to do the job I want to do.

And in my case, just for the record. I took time off between studying, I had professional jobs. I'm a trained teacher, I've taught at University level for several years and I also work with disabled people. It's not that I'…

Feminism (part one)

So a while back I started writing a blog about feminism and what it means to me. I shelved it because it's the kind of thing you want to get right. That one was a more general, and at times light hearted (because it's ok to be light hearted and feminist too)

However something happened this week that made me want to write a more serious version of it, and one that touches on a couple of more serious issues. This is not a personal attack on anyone who was involved in the discussion that elicited this blog, rather see this blog as my 'right of reply' maybe.

This week I heard Feminism equated with anti-abortion and I said quite simply 'That is not feminism as I understand it' Feminism respects the right of an individual to be anti-abortion in their personal life, for whatever reasons they feel. Feminism would not however advocate anti-abortion as a general stance as this removes a woman's right to choose and is as much oppression as men telling women they canno…

Frankenstein's PhD

It may be because I spent far too much of this year thinking about 'Frankenstein' for a conference paper and journal article that never seemed to end, but I'm beginning to see my PhD as an echo of Mary Shelley's creation. The trouble is that I'm not sure if I'm Victor Frankenstein or his Creature.

Actually this came out of a conversation with a friend who has finished her PhD who told me she thought of the PhD as 'an ugly baby' and while it was ugly it was her baby so she was going to defend it always. I liked that, and I like my analogy of Frankenstein's creation.

Firstly because my PhD is very much a mish-mash of styles and approaches. It's not pure English or Drama it's not pure History or Sociology. And while few PhDs are 'pure' anything (except perhaps the purer sciences) mine feels more of a strange creation than many. What a PhD also needs is that drive, that obsession and determination to give life to what may considered life…

On Writing

A couple of things happened this week that made me want to write a little about writing.

I always loved writing stories. At Primary School 'Creative Writing' class was with History the only class I really liked (dyslexia already meaning that maths and formal English were a nightmare, and PE was a lost cause from day one) Reading always came naturally to me, and I read voraciously from a young age. I had a vocabulary beyond my years as a result and frequently was accused of somehow 'cheating' on assignments (though how a 7 year old 'cheats' at writing a poem about the Great Fire of London is still beyond me) I actually remember censoring myself then, telling myself 'don't use that word it'll make you sound too clever'

My love of writing wasn't beaten out of my by High School (most everything else was figuratively and literally at times) and reading and writing still remained my love and my escape. Though as time went on I lost some of my love…

PhD updates

I warn readers this is a not particularly interesting blog post (not that I'm suggesting many of them are what you'd term 'fascinating') but I decided I'd written very little about the actual PhD in a while.

So, after a Summer spent locked away with the thesis-and by the way what joker decided to give us the warmest Summer in years while I was chained, somewhat sweatily I must say, to my computer? I have produced what could be considered a full draft.

Woo! Yay! Rejoice! Etc..etc...

The full draft comprises of some chapters that have been written and redrafted many times over and is structurally and argument-wise pretty close to how I hope it will stay. I refined my argument in this draft and while I know there are points it isn't that clear, I know what it should be now, which is most of the battle. There are bits where, no the theory isn't strong but for me I work from my 'evidence' back to theory, not the other way around. As Mr Sherlock Holmes said …

Zero hours zero pay

In the last couple of months I have: lost one job (my main source of income) applied and been rejected from approximately 12 jobs. Including 2 at places I currently work.

In the belief that there's a 'Friends' quote for every occasion, this time I'm going for "Rock bottom...fifty feet of crap....and then me."

That sounds flippant, but believe me when I say I've spent far too much of this past weekend and couple of days either in tears or staring blankly into space wondering why bother any more.

Now admittedly some of those jobs were academic jobs I know really I'm not ready for. At least one I was hoping to get an interview, just to be seen, hopefully do well and be remembered next time when hopefully it would be the right time to work there. And it's true that most of these jobs I can rationalise why I didn't get them, why I didn't even get an interview. But you know what? when it comes down to it that doesn't make me any less unemplo…

The Child Taboo

I wrote a while ago about children and marriage and how not having either of those means I'm somehow a leper of sorts in some circles. (seen here.

Anyway I'm beginning to feel like I'm perceived as some child hating monster, simply because I dare to voice an opinion about children that cross my path occasionally.

Today I got attacked by the Mummy brigade (well one of their representatives) again. I saw a child going to the toilet in the street, commented on Facebook (and twitter, where actually I got nothing but support!)  that this was, well a little disgusting. Particularly, though this didn't admittedly fit in a status update, because there were public toilets across the street, and a park with bushes come to that. The child didn't have an 'accident' it was being encouraged to do so, I say it because I honestly I quickly felt embarrassed and looked away without working out whether it…

Wasting my Time

So was doing my PhD (and more specifically when and where I did it) the biggest mistake of my life? Right now I'm inclined to say probably.

Partly because I've been stuck at home working on it for nearly two months now. Partly because I find myself soon to be 29, PhD-less, essentially unemployed, broke, single and living with my Mum. Oh and my car started making a funny noise this morning, which is unrelated but also fairly rubbish.

Now I know it was my decision. I know I got myself into this mess. But doing a PhD was the one consistent 'dream' I had. It was also the thing I thought I could be good at. And I am quite good, I think. Independent input at conferences and from colleagues I trust tells me so, but I can't help thinking I could have been better. I could have been better if I'd been able to choose the right place to do my PhD. If I'd been able to concentrate fully on it rather than running around trying to get by financially as a self funded studen…

The Internet is for....

Prime Minister David Cameron today is to announce controls on internet pornography. Plenty of news coverage you can read for yourself but here is the Guardain

And the BBC story

I made this post just because I can't succinctly put my concerns in social media platform. This does concern me.

Let's get something out of the way: obviously child pornography is wrong, it's child abuse and disgusting and of course should be stopped. That's a given. Let's not also forget the kind of porn that depicts disgusting and violent acts towards grown women-I'm talking violent material, rape and anything else on the spectrum of 'illegal' and 'immoral'

I'm also against the general misogyny of pornography, the using of women as objects and the general demeaning nature of most mainstream pornography.

I am not however against pornograph…

Conferences and Cosplayers

I attended a conference last week that was probably the best conference experience I've had to date. In my pre-PhD imaginings a conference was a place where people went to share information, where you had a chance to show off your research publicly and get feedback. But that also you were spending a day or two or three in the company of other academic types who wanted to share information and talk about well, academic things.

Sadly my conference experience to date has not been that. I've had some good experiences,  yes. The one prior to this, on television detective drama was a positive experience, others have been frankly hellish. I spent five days in Manchester last year where I think I had a conversation with two people at the conference the whole time. Now part of this I realise is my own growth, I'm incredibly introverted and shy in situations that conferences present. Give me a paper or a class to address and I'm fine. Give me a room full of people having coffee …

What is a 'weekend' ?

Aside from an excuse to do my best Maggie Smith impression, this post is about non-traditional working patterns and those of us who have them (and by default those who don't too) or those of us who just have lives that are a bit outside the 'norm'.

Partly borne out of annoyance (I'll get to that) this blog post was in part inspired by a friend's Facebook status  earlier today, which detailed his thinking he was late, getting up, rushing to get dressed...before realising that particular workplace (he has several) wasn't open on Sundays. Part amusing story, part the same sort of 'ditziness' that I share, but also the curse  of those juggling several jobs all of which are outside the 9-5: you're never quite sure what day it is or even time of day, and the weekend very often falls on a Tuesday.

The 'annoyed' part of this comes from, once again getting the distinct impression that I've annoyed a friend by not being available to meet up for a …