Friday, June 29, 2007

Mergers and acquisitions

And the day has finally come when I've finally merged my Book blog and Film blog archives into this blog. I was an over ambitious blogger when I started these things nearly a year ago.... as I think many of us are when we start on this blogging journey. So I thought it was time to rationalise my blog universe and transfer all my posts into the archive of this blog. I'm hoping this will reinvigorate my desire to rant about films and books, as doing so certainly helps me remember what I've watched and read.

I seem to have hit a mental road block where it comes to fiction. At the moment I'm happily ploughing through all my work related reading but cannot seem to get into any of the stack of novels I have sitting on by my bed. I also have £50 of book vouchers burning a hole into the top of my computer cabinet - my lovely and very generous leaving present from my last job. I also now have access to an academic library for the first time in a few years so some of the more obscure books from my amazon wish list are no longer inaccessible. So what am I going to spend my vouchers on? I have a great urge to buy two books on Judaism, which I lent to a fellow student at Uni and never saw again.... not perhaps the most useful things to clutter my house up with, but they were so lovely....

Friday, June 22, 2007

When I was 26....

As it was my birthday last Sunday, I'm going to steal doctor/woman's post idea and think about all the new experiences that I've had this year:

.... bought my first house

.... owned pets

.... traveled to Denmark, Belgium, Austria and Ireland

.... had my writing published

.... had my writing cited for the first time

.... bought an Mp3 player (and then another, damn you Windows Vista)

.... grown something (successfully) from seed

.... had heatstroke

.... made friends with someone who has a child

.... started a blog

.... peppermint tea

.... started a new job

I'm sure there are more but its getting late...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The shock of the old

Now firstly, don't get me wrong, my new job is looking like it was definitely the right move - lots to get my teeth into, a friendly team and a bearable commute. But let's just say it hadn't really occurred to me just how different some of the little things would be.

I've worked at a couple of universities before and I knew that things were unlikely to be as shiny, new and well resourced as working for a government funded organisation. However I thought I'd share my observations on the little differences so far.... (so be prepared for pointless bitching):

1. No kichen on our floor. I don't know how many people work on mh floor - it is all little separate offices - but I reckon at least 50. The fridge is in the head of service's PA's office, mugs are washed in the disabled toilet down the hall and water is boiled and tea making equipment stored on a rickety trolley in the corner of my office.

2. No central IT purchasing/renewal. Where I used to work we had a replacement cycle of 3 years (4 at a push), we had access to new technology: smart phones, smart boards, big LCD monitors etc. At my new work if you want a new computer, your office has to buy it, spec it, and install it. I currently have a beige (that says it all) quite early Pentium 4. I just got rid of my middle years Pentium 4 at home. It has at most a 14 inch screen with appauling resolution. I work from home at least 1 day a week and commute about 3 hours a day so... I need a laptop, with docking station and a decent sized monitor on my desk to work at my best. It has been moote but I don't want to push it as even my boss has the same crappy PC as me.

3. Library facilities are at least 20 years out of date. Book selection as far as I can tell is ok but IT resources are non-existent and the lighting and layout are horrible. Worst of all it is half the size of the library of where I did my MA but we have nearly twice as many students.

Yes, I know I'm moaning.... I feel like it god damn it! I probably shouldn't be, after all it looks as though I'm going to be happy here. They are upgrading some of the facilities - new sports centre, new (but rather small) student's union. But no library renewal, no IT upgrades for staff - admin or academic. I work in a fairly prestigious institution, well attended, brings in enough research money, good reputation... but they seem so behind in so many ways. At least they have ducks.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Two things in the last 24 hours have made me think again about parental relationships - something I pondered quite a bit last year after reading "Mother, Missing" by Joyce Carol Oates - and what the absence of a parent can mean.

On the news yesterday was a piece about a deal that the NHS has made with the manufacturer of a drug for the treatment of bone cancer. I think as cancers go this is one that is pretty impossible to cure outright, but it is possible to use treatment to extend survival time, and this new drug can improve that further by 6-12 months. A good friend of mine's mother was diagnosed with bone cancer this time last year. She's had surgery and radiotherapy I think, and is back at work part-time - but she is definitely not cured.... As the GP who let the phrase "Let's try and make your remaining time more comfortable" slip indicated.

My friend is permanently estranged from her father and not particularly close to her sibling, who lives several hundred miles away. If her Mum dies, actually that should be when her Mum dies, that will be it for her close family.

A flash-forward example of a young woman who had lost her Mum and didn't know her father was on a dreadful C4 documentary last night, entitled "Animal Au Pair". It followed the fortunes of a woman farm-owner come reindeer breeder (?) and her search for an au pair both for her son and her animals. It became clear quite quickly that she was the least tolerant and sympathetic woman possible - basically wanting a live in farm-hand and nanny (two full time jobs) who she could pay a pittance to and order around.

The girl who lasted the longest (7 weeks) was from Zimbabwe, she looked bout 19. Her mother had died of lung cancer at the age of 49. She had some family in Zim, but wanted to come back to England, where she was born, and as it developed, find her long lost father. She was a beautiful young woman, still obviously reeling from her mother's death, living with this nightmare woman. Luckily, she found her father, and he seemed to want to know her again - so hopefully she will have a new "home".

I can't imagine losing - in whatever way - both parents as a child or young adult. To not have a "home" to visit and people who were there everyday when you were growing up. Now that I'm building my own family, my husband provides that safe haven more than my parents, but that is only a recent development.

To me, my parents are my anchors, we don't speak as often as we should or I'd like; and with an ocean between us (even only a little one), it has been nearly a year since I've seen them. I must fix that this summer. But they are still there, a repository of memories, a place to retreat for comfort if something bad were to happen. They are the 2nd people I call, after my husband, when I have big news like a new job, or even silly things like having re-decorated the hallway.

They're both in their late 50s so I guess they could well be around for another 20 years or so in them yet, but then there might not be. I'll miss them so much when they are gone.