Monday, October 22, 2007

Reading and Writing

When the Tories talked about 'Back to Basics' I'm sure one of their things was emphasising reading and writing. They didn't mention what rate at what level. Anyway, I'm doing reading about ten thousand a day (that's words) and writing about a thousand. I've calculated at that rate I should have three essays written in about 48 hours. So actually only one week off work. So I've negotiated with my boss to keep my hours up. I'm turning into the bastard child of myself. Anarchist come feminist come socialist with a healthy bit of cynicism and death monitoring. I want to read Frankenstein but am a bit worried as it's out of our era (twentieth century girls/boys). I just think it's a bit ironic that a 'horror' story which presumably was a moral tale was written by the ok, legitimate child of arguably the world's first anarchist and feminist (Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin). There's a lesson there, but I don't know what it is.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Getting back to a history of dementia

I'm happy again with my dementia idea. Pleased to be going to the national archives today and hopefully look at some real death certificates. Deciding now my first essay will be "A history of 'dying from old age'". I will look at any trends and ask if there is comfort in that final diagnosis or whether it's better to be more scientific. It could even be a brief history of the death certificate I suppose. Second essay will be A historiogaphy of dying and third will be an oral history and dying. I'm starting to wonder how many words we're supposed to be reading and how many words writing. Presumably we have to read about 100,000 a month and write about a tenth of that.

One thing's for sure. I haven't got time to think about whether the alphabet is random or not. Who cares anyway?

Monday, October 15, 2007

The alphabet

I think I can talk about why today was excellent. I 'skim-read' a whole journal article written by a bit of a prat and summarised it in about ten nano-seconds. Work is a four letter word. So is Rent. And Land. And Lord. And Lady. Carpet, boiler and plumber are longer words than four letters. Death has five.

The alphabet is a funny old thing. We like to think of its randomness, but is it? For example I had my Ipod on what I thought was random but it was playing everything in artist order from A-Z. I only needed to get from A to B to get fully satiated. In fact the world wouldn't be too bad if all the artists were obliterated from C onwards. I had, for example, Abba, AC/DC, Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles (under B confusingly) Aretha Franklin. And then you've got Life itself. As a teenager you feel at ease with the alphabet. You feel ingratiated with all the letters from a to z of course. And I spent my twenties disproving this and just getting to know A to B. Then C crops up. We've got enough Connies in the world to write a few internationally renowned comedy scripts. And some more four letter words and six letter ones beginning with c that we can't mention at this juncture. And it's only now approaching the mid-thirties mark that I feel strong enough to even start writing some of these d-words down. Death. Dementia.

And at the other end of the spectrum I've decided that all the words ending in ie are my favourites. Especially my favourite names. Of course I'm biassed because they're my favourite people. Aunties and the rest of you know who you are and I won't embarass you here.

And what would have happened if the musical language had gone up to I? Is this possible? Has anyone ever tried it? Why not from A-Z? Invent a piano where middle L is the key we all know. Random my A***.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

An excellent and terrible week

I can't go into detail about why the week was terrible or excellent. This is one of the things about blogging. You're your own censor. And probably tougher than Mary Whitehouse as the very people who read this thing are the people you least want to offend. To be honest if Mary Whitehouse was my reader I'd be more entertaining. But being called dull has never been much of an insult. But I can talk about the football and rugby. But I won't. Anyway, I'm back into dementia which I'm sure is a good thing. Essay one will be a study of deaths due to old age, essay two, a historioraphy of dying and the dissertation 'a history of dementia' as it has been all along apart from one or two days last week when I was feeling morbid. Suffice to say life is full of good and bad things.

Tomorrow I'm going to print off my blog so I can delete all the polls. I think I was the only person who enjoyed them so they're being evicted. Airbrushed right out of history (except I'm keeping a hard copy).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cheered up by a 'Social History of Dying'

Believe it or not I've been cheered up by the above book released this year by Allan Kellehear which I just bought at Waterstones.

1) I agree with him
2) He mentions dementia A LOT
3) studying death isn't that depressing
4) you can prepare for death and there are well managed, good, deaths
5) It would be a waste of four years research not to do a history of dementia
6) It's a fact we're all going to die, there's no point denying it
7) A history of dementia hasn't been done before in this country
8) I'm already an expert in it

A History of Death

My history of dementia may as well be a history of death. How come it's only taken me until now to realise what a depressing topic it is? In fact a history of death would be better, slightly more hope as you'd be able to talk about the after-life which I can't really in history of dementia.

It's a pretty well known fact everyone dies, yet debatable whether we can prepare for it at all.

Anyway in Africa so my friends tell me, death is not as much of a taboo. My friend C went back there a couple of years ago and one of her friends had attended 200 funerals that year. She missed her father's funeral and had a video of it instead from her family. Perhaps we can prepare for it more than we think. I'm got a brilliant book called 'Dying Well' by Richard Reoch. I thought 'I'd better read this to get ready for studying dementia'. But it needs to be read with a box of tissues to hand.

A History of Love is much more appealing. Skip the social just like Blaglady said. Nothing you can do that can't be done. Nothing you can make that can't be made.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Will the Professor Sir sign my book?

A bit like Oliver Twist going to back for more (alright nothing like it) I approached Professor Sir Roderick Floud to ask him if he would mind signing my book 'Quantiative Methods for Historians'. Anyway he said 'of course'. In fact it was much easier than getting more porridge or even, a better analogy, easier than getting Richard Bacon to sign an autograph in Whitby the other week - husband had to fake a headache in the hotel corridor. In this case I just simply asked. Or perhaps it was the absence of embarrased husband present which did the trick. Anyway I'm taking it in on Wednesday.

The course is outstanding. I'm certainly not disappointed. In fact the opposite. We were told all day today that this course is not only the nation-leader, it's the world-leader. In fact the whole 'school' is. There's only nine of us on the whole course (which is absolutely ridiculous as this is the only twentieth century history department in the whole country) and one of those is part time. We get one to one tuition on our options (surely only matched by Oxbridge) and we pick our essays for the Core Courses. As long as they don't overlap, much, but they can interweave. So for example I could do a 'Twenty-first century history of dementia' for my dissertation, with my Core Course 1 essay 'A history of age discrimination in the 1990s' with Core Course 2 essay being 'A post-war historiography of geriatrics'. I was going to do Madness & Society as an option at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the history of medicine but it's only available next term. So I'm going to do 'Interview Skills for historians' as I'm hoping to interview geriatricians etc.

Everyone on the course seems very nice indeed. We're a mixed bunch which is quite nice, and we all like a beer, but not too much of it.