Saturday, 21 August 2010

Off on my hols...

Last post for a week or so - I'm off today for a National Trust working holiday in East Hampshire. For those of you who might not know what this entails, basically a group of people who have never met before, turn up to live in what is described as 'basic' dormitory accommodation, and work for a week, living, cooking and eating together. I'm quite looking forward to it - it's an opportunity for an Old Girl to meet new people, while doing something completely different for a week or so.

I'm also a little nervous, I must confess. I'm not very good at meeting people for the first time, and living in a house with people that I don't know is a little daunting. However, I guess that I'm not the only person feeling that way - we're all in it together.

On another note, Polly and I went for a long walk on Thursday, 11 miles down the cliff path. It was a beautiful day (I got a little sunburned), and it was good to get out of Uni for while. I really enjoyed her company, and we had lots of time to chat. But, scrambling up the cliff paths you could really tell that I'm 18 years older than her!

Anyway, I'd better get the car loaded, and head west towards Hampshire. If anyone apart from my mother (WHOD!) is reading this - have a good week all.

Monday, 16 August 2010

It's that time of year again

The media is full of stories of how some prospective students are going to miss out on a university place, because there aren't enough places for them. And, further, that there are an increasing number of mature student applicants for places.

I'm in two minds about this - I am full of sympathy for the 18 year olds coming out of school with the belief that they have to get a degree in order to get a job, and I totally understand why mature students would want to step away from a terrifying non-job market at the moment - I did it after all. But, I also think that there it might not be a bad thing to put the elite back into higher education.

When I look at the range of degree subjects out there (equine psychology anyone?) I think that there's a need for a fundamental review of what a degree is actually for. There are some subjects that are quite specifically aimed at a particular industry or role (Golf Course Management and Nursing come to mind), there are those that seem a little, um, well, just a little really (media studies), while others such as law and medicine are seen to be vocational, while others such as classics or english literature are increasingly seen as being largely irrelevant.

I cannot see how all the above can be classified in the same way. I would suggest that courses leading to a specific career should be classed as training for a specific career, with a different kind of qualification - less "academic" but more practical than the traditional degree subjects, but equally as valuable. These could be taught at establishments focussing on the practical application of learning

Other subjects, such as education, could be taught in places focussing on the application of learning to teaching.

Then, subjects such as the social sciences (including law), classics, the arts and sciences (possibly including medicine) should be classed as academic degrees, and should be taught at specialist establishments.

Those wishing to follow a career in the visual arts, could have specialist institutions focussing on producing excellent artists for the future.

We could call the first type of establishment 'polytechnics', the second kind 'teacher training colleges', and the third type we could call 'universities', while the fourth could be called 'art colleges'.

It's such a simple idea - I wonder why nobody has thought of it before?

Thursday, 12 August 2010

It's a library - shut the f*&*k up!

I'm a bit stressed today - am trying to write a 10,000 word chapter before the end of August, and have only managed 3,500 so far. Eeek. Plus, I've got a holiday coming up, so in effect I've got a week and a half to juggle Foucault, law and normativity, and to do some work on law and literature. It's not going to happen - I just know it.

And downstairs, on the next floor - open to my carrel - are a couple of 'gentlemen' having a chat. They're tucked away in an alcove, and probably don't realise that they're disturbing anyone, but I'm getting close to homicide.

I have a couple of choices - I could get off my fat backside and go down there and snarl at them, I could lob the Oxford Companion to Philosophy at them, I could put my iPod on, or I could ignore them. Obviously, the last option isn't on - my stress levels won't allow it...

I wonder if the Oxford Companion to Philosophy would reach that far, or if I need to construct a catapult....

Update - I've just peered over the end of my carrel, and I have discovered that one of the culprits is a member of teaching staff in the Law School. Grrrrr.

Monday, 9 August 2010

A bit fed up....

Still the folk festival bells go on, and from my front room where I'm trying to work, I can hear the sounds of folkies enjoying themselves. I'm desperately trying to work, but it's not going well. Mindyou, the chapter that I'm struggling with is likely (I hope) to be the most boring of the entire thesis. I don't want to write it, and I'm damn sure that nobody will want to read it!

I've recently made my will, and I have to say that it's quite a depressing experience. Not just because it brings back to you the thoughts of your own mortality, but because - well, who do you leave it all to? The middle aged, single child of an only child with no dependents, and seemingly no chance of any. After I've made sure that the people that I care about will be cared for, there's only charity.

I usually manage to stay quite positive about being single, but for the past couple of days I just haven't been able to. The internet dating hasn't so much gone quiet, but my profile appears to have fossilised - I put it down to the fact that I'm not slim and beautiful, and that there are many many more women on there than there are men, so the chaps get a wide choice, and people like me fade into the background. And, there's nothing worse than feeling down when you can hear the sound of people enjoying themselves around you.

Because I work so damn hard, I don't get out and about very much, and next academic year (due to the possibility of teaching), I'm going to have even less spare time than I have now. But, I'm going to have to find the time to sort myself out a bit. I intend to start running in September when the weather's cooled down a bit and there are fewer people on the streets.

I'll try and cheer up before I post again!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

The bells, the bells...

Seasidetown is suffering or enjoying, dependent on your point of view, its annual folk festival. I'm in two minds about it - it's good for the town, and some businesses rely on the income from this week of festivities to be able to survive for the rest of the year, and a lot of people have a lot of fun joining in.

And, then there's the rest of us. Grudgingly we welcome it - we want our favourite shops to survive after all - but if I find whoever it was who had the bright idea to sell long ribbons with bells on the end of them to small children, I will...... I will...... Probably end up on remand in Holloway.

I know that I'm miserable about this, but I get fed up of having to take long detours so that I can get from one end of the town to another without my way being blocked by men wearing ribbons and bells, and shaking a pig's bladder in my face. In addition, I've never liked hobby horses (used to scare the bejasus out of me when I was a child - nasty experience in front of the west front of a cathedral in the north of England - but that's a whole other story), and as I get older, the sound of the accordion brings out the reflex to scream.

And, there's another thing. From my meandering this morning, a question came to mind. If the morris dance is all about fertility, why does it tend to be danced by old men?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

What on earth do they expect?

Now, I'm a bit of a woolly headed left wing old girl, trying to see the positive in everyone, believing strongly that the prison system in its current form does not work (for a multitude of reasons - too many to put on here), so I'm not totally convinced that every offender should be sent to prison as the default punishment. But then, I read this.

I'm in my hutch in the library, and I spluttered. Quite amusing as it happens, when I'm in my hutch, those in level three downstairs can hear me, but not necessarily see me, leading to much craning of necks as they try to find the perpetrator.

Anyway, what made me splutter is that the young gentleman admitted to 600 offences. 600! He's a crime wave in his own right. And, this totally amazes me, he was given a "rent-free flat" after he "promised to change his ways". Oh well, that's all right then.

I wonder about the level of supervision that he had - I know that probation services are cut to the wire with punishing work loads for probation officers. It strikes me that with the level of cuts about to be experienced in the public sector, we're either going to see a lot more cases like this, or we're never going to find out about them, because they'll never be detected because the police are going to suffer similar cuts.

When I'm in charge of the world, and I have to look for savings, I think that I'll start by abolishing the whole of the Criminal Justice System (CJS), and start again from scratch, creating a joined up system, that is a damned sight more efficient than the one we've got now, where all parts of it work to the same standards, can benefit from economies of scale, and are all going in the same direction.

Just for good measure, I'd then do the same with education and social services, and make them create better links with the CJS.


I'm just sorry that no political party would ever have the bottle to look at the whole of the public sector in this way. Clearly, it is a process that would go over more than one government term, so our pants political system means that, in effect, this will never happen.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Another week, another section of my chapter

Back in the library working hard on my chapter - I need to get a draft to The Supervisor before the end of August. I managed to write about 3,000 respectable words before I dried up and realised that I needed more research. I texted FHB asking for some references, which he sent to me, and I'm happily following them up now. He really is very generous with his knowledge and his time - a totally nice chap.

On Saturday morning, I met the man from the internet for a walk in a local beauty spot. Interesting how your opinion of someone changes dependent on the location that you meet them. I suddenly decided that he really isn't the man for me - he just seemed so "old". That's totally bizarre, in years he's not much older than me, but I think that because I spend my time with people so much younger than me, a lot of people are going to seem old who really aren't. The kicker came when he told me that my ideal walk (between two coastal towns - about 11 miles) sounded like a real challenge. It isn't. Most of it is on the flat, on a well defined footpath with only a couple of steep climbs up the cliffs.

Oh well. Maybe I'm destined to be wedded to my books. Mindyou, I've started talking on-line with a man who seems to be really nice. I need to chill out a bit and relax, I think and just take life as it comes.

The library is surprisingly busy this week - it looks as though there are a few undergrads in. Not totally surprising as it's re-takes this week. FHB suspects that some of those that he taught last year have only just started revising for the exam. If that's the case, they probably won't pass! Still, they seem to be very quiet, which means that I don't have to snarl at anyone!