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I haven't posted for over a week because I've been trying to keep body and soul together! Depression.  Some days have been far worse than others.  I get so frustrated at trying so hard to function and handle depression at same time as well as trying to control the huge waves of rage it brings up.  Some say depression is anger turned inward, but that makes me ask 'where is the safe place for the expulsion/expression of it, then?'  Certainly not in public.  It's a minefield, although it's not as if this 'black dog' has come out of nowhere, it has its roots in lots of external events - mum's stroke(s), feeling as though I've already said goodbye to her, putting our Dad's headstone up this week after a year and a bit and then financial insecurity, doing freelance work I don't like, and a few other deep disappointments to do with my studying for a PhD this year - it has all served to grind me down.  And as people who suffer prolonged bouts of depression on a regular basis will know you also have to be careful who you speak to about it as it can be horribly misunderstood.
 
I did, however, go out to a friend's birthday party last night, even though I left just before ten! I'm not reading any fiction right now either - I think it's part laziness in that I can't be bothered to see what's out there that would be up my street, and part indifference.  I am reading a book on philosophy, though.  Non-fiction and reference can serve me well when I'm feeling like this.  No emotional investment needed because there's none to give!
 
However, I have heard that James Kelman's latest book, Keiron Smith, Boy has all the swear words censored by himself, i.e. f**k and b*****d! I say leave it in - although it has served to spark a bit of debate on the role of swearing in literature.  I like Kelman.  I think he is a brave, noble man who has worked hard at being true to himself and to the place that helped form him.  Irrational as it may be I still get angry when I remember that Simon Jenkins once called him 'an illiterate savage'.  It's a prime example of how different voices are too often mocked and considered unworthy of being in the so-called sacred space that is 'literature'. 
 
 
 

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Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

BBC World Service The Forum

I am waiting for this flight to Paphos to take off whilst writing. Off for a much needed holiday to hopefully do a bit of twitching (bird-watching - who’d have thought it!?), swimming in the sea with Husby (I promised him), and general lolling around reading and hopefully doing a bit of writing.
A couple of weeks ago I contributed to the BBC World Service’s radio programme the Forum on the subject of Friedrich Engels. It’s available on The Forum’s webpage on the BBC website. Apart from myself, the illustrious Terrell Carver, Jonathan Sperber, and Christian Kell also gave their learned insights. It felt great to be invited and reminded me of my PhD and how I must do more with it!
I am pretty much all set to embark on secondary teacher training this year. What’s a year compared to the seven years previously undertaken? And it will enable me to embark on a new career in Sussex. Teaching hours are long and lesson planning will also require many extra hours on top, but I’m sure it will pro…

My PhD critical paper

The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston University, without which postgraduate study of this nature would have remained firmly beyond reach - as it is - and becomes even more so - for countless others who would relish this hard, yet rewarding journey of growth.
Thanks are due to my brothers and sisters, particularly my older brother, Sean.

Behind this PhD candidate was a fellowship of brilliant friends, whose kind and wise words, often amounting to no more than 'keep going' encouraged me in the low moments. And, of course, to the spirit of Mary Burns (1822-1863) - no mere mistress.


No endeavour is the work of an individual.


SECTION ONE
Revolution, Rom…