Skip to main content

Moving, madness and maudlin

I've not got much news today. I've been busy looking for somewhere new to live. I went to see a little place (tiny! but about an inch bigger than what I have now) a mile from where I am. The area is fantastic. The rent is high. But there is some serious storage going on - as well as lots of shelves for my ever-expanding book collection - that's what did it really. The extra rent is worth it for extra shelving - especially when I consider I may (hope) be doing a PhD this year. Actually I received a letter from Goldsmith's yesterday to say I had been unsuccessful in securing help with the fees/bursary. I was actually quite nonchalant about it. After not having been put forward for AHRC funding with Manchester (still waiting to here from them re bursary) I was incredibly down for a while as I was dealing with the same situation as I had on my MA - and it makes me angry that postgraduate education is so DIFFICULT to undertake, simply because it always, always, boils down to money. In the end, on the MA, I returned to the University where I had done my BA simply because they offered me a half scholarship, which basically meant they waived half the fees. I still had to work full-time whilst also studying full-time which takes a lot of the pleasure - and energy needed - out of it. Anyway, I'm going to wait and see what Manchester say. I've also applied to undertake a PhD studentship with Royal Holloway which would actually see them paying me a maintenance grant to carry out work on one particular project and a related thesis. It's four years, which is a year longer, but what's a year?
I've also been steeped this week in continuing to research - and trying to write a few hundred words each day during my lunch break - my Mum's book. I bought the old classic, Foucault's Madness and Civilisation. We studied it on one of the BA modules, but didn't go into it in great detail. I'm also aware that I need to be careful about being too biased either way in relation to my Mum's story - it's now going to be a novel anyway as I think I posted on here before - but I don't want to get too sentimental or maudlin about anything - about her loss of freedom during that most liberating of decades, the sixties, or about seeing potential in her that may never have been there to begin with. Talking about madness I had a couple of my own episodes last week where I couldn't see the woods for the trees and where I felt so incredibly angry and bleak - depressed, in short, and anxious. It's hard not to think that there is something inherently wrong in one when those episodes descend, yet, as Pascal wisely said: 'Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness'. I take comfort from it. Sometimes, what we take to be 'madness' - a hazy term at the best of times - is actually just a logical response to the madness and sickness of the entire world we live in.

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Booker Shortlist announced

It's been a while... I know. Dog walking on the Downs, a bit of theatre, a bit of baking, a bit of writing etcetera etcetera. I also managed to read two complete books in the past month, which I was so pleased about. I had not read a whole book for about a year. The first was A Lie About My Father by Scottish poet/writer, John Burnside; a very well written memoir about father and son, but like all memoirs, some unreliability I felt. Poignant and tragic in equal measure. Then my husband returned from Cyprus (too hot for me this time of year, I can barely cope with England!) with Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong. He loved it. And then I read it and also loved it. I had originally picked it up several years ago but didn't get beyond Amiens, where the first section is set, but was really glad I did this time around. Another incredibly well written book in the style of a good Victorian! I felt a bit unsure about bits of Elizabeth, in the later section, but I have never learnt so muc…

Days Without End and Mosul's Avengers

So fed up am I of buying books that I don't finish, that I decided I would go to the local library for a copy of Sebastian Barry's latest novel, Days Without End, which has just been awarded the Costa Prize. Unfortunately, I could only borrow it on the proviso that it was return by 1 February. I returned it the day after, without having finished it. I was about three quarters through, and will now have to go out and buy it for the final quarter. I loved Barry's The Secret Scripture, and on every publication of a new work, his star rises. Days Without End follows two boys, one descended from native Americans, and the other having arrived on one of the notorious coffin ships from famine struck Sligo. The tale is brave, funny, touching, but most of all Barry has achieved the perfect pitch. It is quite remarkable.

Another remarkable work comes in the form of reportage in the New Yorker (February 6, 2017) The Avengers of Mosul, by Luke Mogelson 'A Reporter at Large'.

Mo…