Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Got a chest infection - send good vibes to make it go away, please! I haven't time to be ill.

Domestic Goddess in G51

By 10.30 am yesterday morning, the Hogmanay fruit-cake for hubby's workmates was baking in the oven, the bread was in the bread-machine, and the soup just simmering nicely for the boys and their guest to enjoy at lunchtime. Tea-time saw home-made Cornish pasties on the table - ah, the joy of the festive season!

In between times, having attended to everyone's sustenance for the day, the ingredients for chapter 3 of my doctoral thesis still lie expectantly on the hard-drive. (Now for the serious cooking.)

Nigella, eat your heart out. You've got it so EASY!

The good news, the really good news, is that the washing machine engineer fixed our machine yesterday morning. So we're not only well-nourished - we can wear clean clothes, too!
Image from Musings of a Domestic Goddess blogspot, with thanks. Sourced from photobucket (

Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 rolls to an end!

Christmas Day, and everything was fine. Nice meal, everyone happy with gifts - I can now wear my lovely new pink fluffy dressing gown, so the VERY old green one went in the washing machine before heading for the charity shop.

  • Washing machine failure - disaster! It has only just had its first birthday.

I called the warranty people on Saturday morning. BAD NEWS! No Hoover engineers in Scotland, and the first free call-out is ... wait for it ... 15th January 2009!

Sunday - a friend round to dinner. Nice glass of red wine with the roast, and chocolates afterwards. I don't get migraines, I get headaches. Ended the day with a horrendous one.

Woke up today with the same headache. (NOT a migraine, I don't get migraines.) Took car for its MOT - which it may well fail - but good news with the warranty people. I may get the washing machine fixed by the end of the week. Does this mean things are looking up?

The Grand Plan for the next fortnight is to Get Chapter 3 drafted. Unfortunately, the thumping headache isn't conducive to intellectual composition. Think I'll catch up on reading - not much less challenging, but at least saves me having to be creative for a few hours!

Image thanks to

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

At work this week, we had to empty our office, because we're being moved to another one (currently being created out of two small ones). So, by this afternoon, I was dispossessed, wandering around with my handbag and with nowhere to go!

Then my mobile rang. Each boy wanted to tell me what the others had said and done to him while their father was out delivering last-minute gifts and cards. I warned them to calm down and make friends before he got back through the door. No point in upsetting him by reenacting a condensed version of World War 2!

I've said it before - I live in Testosterone Manor. It's a strange, alien environment. Last night I was out buying my own Christmas present from SuperSpouse - a nice pink fluffy dressing-gown. "I never would have thought you'd want a pink one", said a mystified SuperSpouse, when I showed him it. In a sense, its pink fluffiness is an act of defiance. Just letting them know that I am NOT the fifth boy in the house!

All the gifts are bought, all the cards sent. I'm off work for two and a half weeks (the idea being that Chapter 3 starts being written on Saturday!). I just need to write my Christmas Dinner kitchen timetable, then do some gentle tidying up and sorting out.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I was at the supermarket car-park when the policeman approached me and asked to breathalyse me. It was 6 am. "But I only had a half-glass of wine last night", I protested, before slumping over the wheel. (The bottom half of a small, handmade, Fair-Trade glass, to be absolutely accurate.)

He checked the machine - it was clear - before sighing, "Madam, can I suggest you get a bit more sleep?"

Then I woke up to the alarm-clock going off - it was 5.30 am and time to go to Asda! Could it possibly have been preying on my mind as I slept???

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Well, what else do you call the toe next to the big one? Anyway, I leapt out of bed on Monday morning, caught my foot in my nightie, and went flying. What a way to start the week. Spent 4.25 hours at A&E that evening to leave with 2" of surgical tape and a diagnosis that I'd broken the toe. Gee whizz!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friday - Dad's night out. Mum was on parental "taxi" duty.

Saturday - Dad worked a.m., slept p.m., rehearsed evening. Mum to Post Office; also washing, ironing, online supermarket order - and "taxi" again (twice). And 90 minutes' research at the end of it!

Sunday - Dad played at church; Mum slept. Then washing, cooking, "taxi", and more shopping.

Sunday evening - Mum taken for meal by work-related overseas visitors. "Who's making the boys' tea?", SuperSpouse enquired. Go figure!

Ah, Christmas! Working mums fit two lives into one lifetime every week of the year, then triple it during December. And that's the merriment everyone else calls Christmas.

Image from stillthedudeabides at, with thanks. (It's not me, but it could so easily be! I searched on Christmas exhaustion.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Greetings from Testosterone Manor! I'm surrounded by moody males, and it's enough to make me contemplate the alternatives.

Christmas is creeping up on me, and I am only a breath away from drowning in all I have to do. I shouldn't be updating this blog, for a start. I have three-quarters of a doctoral thesis to write, but more pressingly, a Christmas tree to set up. And the ironing. And odd bits of tidying up and shopping and, and, and ....

A friend was telling me about adolescents and their sleep patterns. Apparently puberty trips the "adult sleep time" switch, so they want to go to bed late. But their bodies are still developing and need sleep, therefore they either need to sleep on in the morning, or their families have to put up with the consequences of a sleep-deficited teenager. Great!

And is there also a key to Grumpy Old Men and how to keep them on side, too?!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In the trade, they call it "putting in a dep". Eh?, I hear you say.

Well, this evening, I had hoped to have the church choir perform Purcell's Evening Hymn. It's a truly beautiful piece of music.

I copied it out. Rehearsed it with them. Just a fortnight before we were to perform it, I discovered that actually, there weren't going to be any ladies available to sing this evening, and the few men weren't keen to become virtual soloists.

No problem - introducing, Plan B. Phone a friend, and persuade his sons to play oboe and cello, and I would still play keyboard.

Until last night. The oboist has broken his ankle. I still have a cellist. Indeed, counting my own son, I have two cellists, but no-one able to play the tune.

We're on Plan C. I shall play oboe, the cellist will still play cello, and my cello-playing eldest son will play keyboard for a change.

The whole aim of the exercise was to showcase other people, not my own family, but it can't be helped. I've promised the minister a beautiful piece of music, and there will be just that.

So - I'd better go and practice!

I've already completely forgotten about my University presentation on Friday night, Roving among the Hebrides, otherwise known as The Alexander Campbell Show. It went very well. Until I got back to the car, late at night, to find both windscreens iced up, three side windows ditto, and one smashed. By the time I'd been to get it repaired it was 2.30 am, so I was asleep by 3 am. Any wonder I've forgotten about Alexander Campbell .....?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The end of a weekend - and I'm shattered.

  • Friday - Mum's taxi to Boys' Brigade and back (2 x 11-mile round trips)
  • Saturday - Shopping Centre for an anniversary gift. (4 mile round trip); Paisley for viola-kid's orchestra (2 x 10-mile round trips); Glasgow for viola-kid's guitar lesson (6-mile trip); Home to tea, then out to a party (not my car).
  • Sunday - church (11-mile round trip); Paisley for sax-kid's wind-band (2 x 10-mile round trips); Glasgow to drop off cello-kid's school stuff. Out to tea (11-mile round trip).

94 miles doing just local running around. You know something? I'm not surprised I haven't had time to do any research, and I'm even less surprised that I don't feel inclined to do any now. I am, truly, knackered. Y-a-w-n!!!


Our youngest son's best friend is half-Chilean, so naturally enough, he speaks Spanish as well as Scots.

"He's taught us some Spanish, Mum!", I was told the other day.

"Oh yes - and what can you say?"

I won't repeat it, but I'm assured it translated as "Chocolate poo". As Viola-Kid commented, that would be of limited use on a Spanish holiday, wouldn't it?
* * * *
image from - with thanks!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Viola-Kid only got out of the shower at 11.30 am - in Govan - and he was meant to be in Paisley with a viola under his chin at 11.45 am. So he turned my car heater and blower on full...

Saturday, November 08, 2008


You wouldn't believe it!

I went to the lecture theatre that I'll be giving my lecture in on Monday, to make sure I could hook up my laptop to the data-projector and sound system. I did it!

I went to the Uni Library to 'self-return' a book. Helped another borrower 'self-issue' a book (because library staff don't start until 13.00 on a Saturday) - wasn't he lucky I'm a librarian at another college?!

And then I went to the supermarket where I couldn't buy a pineapple at the self-check-out. God doesn't barcode pineapples. A guy had to go and fetch me a barcode to scan.

Honestly! After all that clever technological stuff, to be pulled up short by a blooming FRUIT!!! and Morrisons supermarket websites duly acknowledged.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Well, here I am at the end of the weekend. Half of the lecture is written - now I must apply myself for another hour and try to get a few more paragraphs done.

It's so HARD! The laundry keeps creeping up behind me, the boys need taxi-ing hither and yon, shopping has to be done, meals have to appear (I only cook at weekends, so I shouldn't grumble) - and extra little things like ordering books and music, or mending trousers ...

And here I am, feeling increasingly guilty because I really should be writing Chapter 2, but I can't until the lecture is out of the way! I suppose I should be quietly pleased that various software problems are sorted - I've upgraded Adobe Acrobat, which means Moodle works, so I was able to upload a short reading list and lecture introduction for the students. So in that sense at least, I'm ahead of the game. I suppose I'll need to create a PowerPoint as well, though, so I'm not there yet. Sigh! (Or do I mean, squeal ...!!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What can I say? It has been ages since I "checked in" at Pseudo Supermum.

Last week I joined Academic Ladder - it's an American online coaching seminar kind of thing, to encourage doctoral students to get their PhD thesis written. It's good.

Trouble is, logging in once or twice a day to update my progress is helpful, but now I can't be bothered to log into WeightWatchers to update my progress there. (This may be a good thing - my intentions are honourable but I have such a sweet tooth ...!)

Last weekend I went to a literary dinner organised by the Scottish Federation of University Women, Glasgow Branch. That was enjoyable, too. Which reminds me - I have a lunch date to arrange with one of the lady members!

So here I am, no further on with Chapter 2 of the thesis since last week, but I have written my presentation, Roving among the Hebrides, for SoundThought - a weekend of events at the end of November, organised to showcase the work of Glasgow Uni music postgrads. My presentation is on Friday 28th November, in the University Chapel, in the evening. Any of my friends in Glasgow care to come and see it? I can offer a very tasteful PowerPoint to illustrate Alexander Campbell's 1815 tour of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in search of song. A clarsach player, a piper, and a pianist. And me, reading excerpts from Campbell's travel diary. It's going to be good.

Now I have to write a lecture for a couple of weeks hence, for the University - and get back to Chapter 2 - and decide whether to give a paper for the RMA Research Students' Conference in the New Year. (Only if I can derive the material from Chapter 2, or I'll get too distracted from my purpose.)

I have four weeks' sabbatical agreed, to help with my writing up! Isn't that great? A week at Christmas, and three at Easter. I'm very grateful. Must make the most of it!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

"If you do what you have always done, you will get what you always got."

Remind me of this from time to time - I'm sure it is a great truth!

Image from Sidona Observer - with thanks.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Feeling blue. I worked so hard at work that I've no get-up-and-go left for the research at home. Throw into the melting pot a moody pre-teen and miserable, wet weather ... AND I've put on half the weight I carefully lost last year.

As they say in Weight Watchers - draw a line and start again. Here's my line:-

I have to get a grip, cut out the sweet treats, and get back on track. Sigh!

Would-be parents! Before you conceive that gorgeous little bundle, let me offer some advice. Go and spend a few minutes with a bolshie 12-year old. Think hard. And mentally prepare yourself for the future. (Is this what they call future-proofing?)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

In a word - I'm shattered! I've spent the week covering for the absence of a colleague. Nearly there (for this week, at least) - but no energy left.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Well, I've tried! There's this electronic database of eighteenth century printed sources, called Eighteenth Century Collections Online. It is fabulous - I can't get enough of it, and I find it really exciting. I can access it through my Glasgow University Library account. Hundreds and hundreds of digitised books from the C18th. I tried to explain the romance of it all to my boss today. I'm not convinced that I convinced her.

I tried to explain it to my middle son, aged 12, just now. He could just about understand how exciting it was to be sitting in a warm house with electric light and a computer, looking at an electronic "photocopy" of something that was first read 218 years ago by candle or oil-lamp in Edinburgh town.

When I tried to explain it to SuperSpouse, though, he was as bemused as my boss. So I won't try to explain to any of them the excitement of finding a squashed fly between the folios of a mediaeval plainsong manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and wondering if it was actually a mediaeval fly ...

I ask you - where's their sense of history? Do they not have that feeling of being somehow connected with real people from all those years ago?
Images from Gale Digital Collections, with very grateful acknowledgements.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weight Watchers have a lot to answer for. Specifically, their ginger and coconut creme caramel - which I tried to cook last night. I needed preserved ginger. I ordered it in my online shopping, a couple of weeks ago. The first week, it came in sunflower oil, so last week I went to Asda and bought something more suitable ...

... or at least, it looked very suitable, until I tried to cook with it last night. At this stage I realised with horror that it wasn't in syrup. Making the caramel, I was deeply suspicious of the thin 'syrup' that I was measuring out of the jar - until I realised that it wasn't syrup at all. Can't make caramel out of vinegar. Hmmm....

Any minute now, SuperSpouse will come home from Gourock, our friend Ian will appear from Bishopton, and we'll have a nice Sunday lunch. With Apricot creme caramel to follow. Hope it tastes okay! Any suggestions what I am to do with two opened jars of ginger, one in sunflower oil and the other in vinegar? Use the COMMENTS box and let's get a debate going!
As to losing weight - well, what do you think? It goes on much easier than it falls off.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A weekend in Leeds, a week in Glasgow, then a weekend in Halifax - well, I've had a great time, but it was tiring.

Faced with the harsh reality of having got little research written up, I looked at my annual leave total and realised that I did actually have three days still to take before the end of September.

I took them. The word-count is now up to nearly 10,000, and it feels as though I'm back on track.

Not that I've been glued to my desk all the time, I might add. We've had two birthdays in ten days in our house. I've done all the routine domesticity. I've played for a funeral. And I've been "Mum's taxi" with a vengeance.

To be continued.... when I'm more awake!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Destination: Halifax, Yorkshire

(More anon ...)

Leeds last weekend, Glasgow all week, and down to Halifax tomorrow - what a hectic social whirl!

I was in Leeds for a conference called "Music and the Idea of the North" - organised by the University in commemoration of Leeds Town Hall's 150th anniversary. I spoke about Alexander Campbell's Highland song-collecting. (What else? Sometimes I feel like his reincarnation!)On Saturday night, we all went to a fabulous concert in the Town Hall. And on Sunday morning, nice and early, I cadged a shot at the equally fabulous 3-manual organ there. (Widor's Toccata in trainers with no music? I managed the first two pages from memory, and that was all. Managed the whole of the Bach D minor Toccata, which was better.)

* (If you hadn't guessed, I just LOVE town hall architecture. Victorian civic pride at its best!)

It seemed a shame to head back home for a mere six nights before heading down to a place only 20 miles from Leeds. However, work had to be done, and Glasgow is home.


This weekend, I'm taking Viola-Kid and Saxophone-Kid down to my college room-mate's 25th wedding anniversary celebrations. Cello-Kid is doing a Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award trek. SuperSpouse is staying at home to collect the trekkers at the end of the trek.


Viola-Kid isn't at all excited about a 4-hour train journey, even though he's never been on a train further than Edinburgh in his life, and I'd have thought tomorrow would have some novelty value. Ah well! Watch this space to find out how it all went.


If one thing is certain - no research has been done for a few days. I hang my head in shame, but if there's no time, then there's no time. Can't put extra hours in the day.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Night of the Tacky-back Plastic

Last night, Viola-Kid was assigned the task of decorating his new Geography manilla wallet. He did it in oil-pastels, and was none too pleased to discover that the colour came off on the hands of anyone touching it. Did I say, none too pleased? He was panic-stricken.

And so it happened that Pseudosupermum abandoned Chapter 1 of her thesis, and leapt into her car at 10.35 pm. Off to the 24-hour supermarket in search of tacky-back plastic.

It wasn't easy to find, but I did find some. I bought three rolls (to be on the safe side), and proudly bore them home. The wallet was covered, the crisis averted, and Viola-Kid went off to bed.

We got up early this morning, so I could take him to school early for a music practice. I needn't have expected gratitude for my efforts of last night. That was last night. Now I had cruelly woken him up to go to a practice that HE had wanted to attend, and I was all things bad! I found out later that everything went pear-shaped after I left him at school. The teacher leading the practice was off sick, but the school forgot to notify the musicians, who all sat waiting for quite a while before anyone else turned up and worked out what had gone wrong.

I walked for about 100 minutes today. I feel so virtuous! I took the car for repairs, walked to work, made an unscheduled visit to the university mid-day, and walked back to the garage after work. Is it any wonder I can't concentrate and have achieved precisely nothing this evening?

Friday, August 29, 2008


The conference is over. Had a great trip to visit the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall in Glasgow's Trongate this afternoon. Fascinating!

I'm speaking at a conference in Leeds next weekend - the conference is on Music and the Idea of the North, and my talk is about Alexander Campbell's song-collecting in the Western Isles of Scotland. I sent off the PowerPoint to the organiser today - it is a good way of making sure I can't spend any more time revising the basic structure! I've written and re-written the paper, and now reduced it to notes so that I have to speak it rather than read it. Just a question of going over and over and over again, now.

This evening, I've -
  • Done the shopping order;
  • Put two loads of washing through the machine;
  • Done some corrections to Thesis Chapter 1;
  • Dealt with the school letters which I eventually wrestled from the boys' school-bags .... (!)

Now it's time for supper and bed!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

This week, it has been the SIBMAS international conference in Glasgow. I took Saxophone Kid with me to the civic reception and ceilidh at the City Chambers this evening, after he'd been for his saxophone lesson. He was suitably impressed by the fantastic decor, marble, and vaulted, decorated ceilings. So was I.

He declined to dance with me, though, so I was very pleased to dance with a colleague before, Cinderella-like, we fled home before it was too late! (Believe me, a Citroen Xantia is more comfy than a pumpkin with a few mice ... )

Image from, with thanks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Took my laptop to work, and worked on Chapter 1 in my lunchbreak. The word-count is up to 6,337. Okay, it's quality not quantity I should be aiming for, but hey! let's just get something down on paper first, shall we?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chapter 1 is now over 5,000 words. Only another 70,000 or so more to go ...
Thanks to for the Chapter 1 image!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Here we go again -

I'm back to writing Chapter 1 of the thesis. Covered the Scottish Enlightenment as much as I think I need to. Now - those gaps in square brackets. I have to finish writing about Ritson then look at the gaps!

Encouraging words always welcome ...

Monday, August 11, 2008

I never thought I'd find myself reading an entire book on the Scottish Enlightenment.

What is more surprising, though, is that I actually understood what I was reading! Such are the benefits of doctoral research, I suppose. Alexander Broadie, the author, must himself have a brilliant mind, as much as the brilliant group of eighteenth-century minds that made up the Scottish Enlightenment.

Alexander Broadie - The Scottish Enlightenment (9781841586403), published Birlinn. Highly recommended.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

The illusive Lauchlan Maclaine

I've just been ransacking Gloucester Archives for documents about Lauchlan Maclaine - a Mull man who lived in the early 1800's. I know there was a diary circa 1815. It turned out to be missing. I know there was correspondence from around that time. No trace of that either. I know there's a notebook of songs that he took down. Seen it, but it wasn't what I hoped it would be. Aaaargh! You win some, you lose some.

At least I had a mini-break, nice B&B, no hitches with my travel arrangements. Indeed the Archives, B&B and station were all within a mile of each other, so I congratulated myself on some very excellent arrangements!

Eating in Gloucester

... it isn't easy finding somewhere to eat in the middle of Gloucester of an evening. I did find a very nice pub serving a superb minted lamb suet pudding (with vegetables and no less than TWELVE whole new potatoes on my plate!) on Thursday night. On Friday night I visited Cafe Rene, which I can thoroughly recommend. I was healthily vegetarian, and had a mushroom spaghetti dish. Both nights I made the most of being in the West Country (near enough) and had cider. I know what's good for me! Not good for the diet, I hasten to add, but definitely good for the soul...

Finally ...

Here I am back home again - mountains of washing and potentially, ironing, all around me, and it's pouring with rain. Back to what the Scots would call "auld claes and parritch". Also, I fear, back to the diet. Sigh!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hang on, there! Is this July or April? Then WHY the April showers today? By the time I got to church today, my outfit reflected the weather changes:-

  • * Got up, looked out of the window, dressed and put on my flip-flops

  • * Downstairs, looked out of the door, and pulled on a lightweight anorak

  • * Drove through a cloudburst, pulled up at church and seized my umbrella ...!

SuperSpouse is bringing Cello Kid back from his music course in England today. Don't envy them the drive, especially if the weather down in England is like the weather up here in Scotland.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are exhausted. We had a Grand Clearout of the boys' bedroom yesterday afternoon and evening. Enticed by the thought of a healthy eBay profit, they parted with loads of disused toys. Meanwhile, I carved out space in the wardrobe, now divested of junk, for their school uniforms. (Including the mountain which we bought for Viola-Kid yesterday - new school, new uniform, and a whole load of nametag sewing for PseudoSupermum!)

Funny how Viola-Kid can spend the entire day and most of the night on computer or X-Box without adverse effect, but a few hours' heavy labour (tidying up) has left him totally shattered...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sound advice (from Monageer Boolavogue Monamolin Amenity Group Newsletter)

We are just back from our Irish holiday in Courtown (near Wexford). I've done eight loads of washing and a MOUNTAIN of ironing since our return. Now for the weekly online shopping. But before that, I'll share this little piece of advice with you - I thought it was good:-

Difficult children, like difficult laundry, can turn out great if given special attention, before the stains set.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Gulp! Two of the family passports expired at the end of June. On Tuesday I'll be impoverishing myself getting "same day" renewals. If I was richer, it wouldn't hurt so much! But what else can I do?

There's too much happening this week. Physio. Audiology. Doctoral end-of-year assessment. Preparing for the family holiday.

I was challenged to learn to play the pipes before we went to Fingal's Cave. (In Victorian times, tourists took a piper with them to play in the cave, so they could hear the echo. That's tourism for you!) I want to hear that echo - but I cannae play the pipes! I can get a tune from a chanter. I can fill the pipes with air. But as for getting:-

  • the equivalent of an octopus with rigor mortis under my arm,

  • the pipe into my mouth,

  • three drones over my shoulders,

  • and my fingers round the chanter at the other end of the bag ...

  • and then PLAY the thing ...

... well, how am I supposed to coordinate all that?!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Dad's funeral took place in Horsham St Faith's, Norfolk, on Friday 6th June. We drove down from Scotland on Thursday, and back again on Saturday.

On Thursday evening, SuperSpouse and I went to the funeral parlour to see Dad one last time. He looked peaceful - we were glad to have gone.

Everything went according to plan on Friday. The church was full - it was heartwarming to realise how many people had turned out to commemorate a long life, well-lived.

My uncle gave an affectionate eulogy; I read a psalm; and Cello-Kid played the cello very movingly. Super-Spouse played the organ. Everything had been chosen by Pa.

The family went out for a meal in the evening, which was a good end to the day, even though we didn't really have much of an appetite. It was certainly better than sitting around in the house.

We both played at church this morning, but were really too tired. By the end of the weekend, we're both literally just wrung out! I think we just need time to rest.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The order of service is done - in its first draft. I have to wait for my Mum to send me the hymn texts so I can check that the words in Dad's old Baptist hymnal are the same as the ones in the slightly newer Anglican one.

That's how I spent most of my evening. My lunchtime was busy too, though: I bought smart new shirts for the boys, and took SuperSpouse's suit to the dry-cleaners.

I haven't done any research all week. Perhaps this isn't surprising. Maybe I should call it officially a week off, then I wouldn't have to agonise about why I've done nothing. I have had other things on my mind.

The picture is Horsham St Faiths Parish Church, where the funeral will take place next Friday, 6th June.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

One day on, and I'm making progress.

  • * I've heard back from the vicar;
  • * I've found the perfect outgoing organ voluntary (a setting of the hymn my father specified);
  • * and I've asked Mum to send me the hymns.
  • * I've got the cover of the order of service almost perfect
  • * and the rest is just waiting for me to put in the hymn texts.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm so tired! I was up late last night sorting out Dad's list of hymns etc that he wanted for his funeral. As the only member of his family who attends church - not to mention being an organist myself - it has fallen to me to sort out details of the service with the vicar. And I want it to be "just right", naturally.

I found perfect CD tracks for the crematorium committal service - I'm quietly proud of that. So today, I emailed the vicar and sent the CDs to the undertaker, and must now just wait patiently.

Time for an early night

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My dear father, Revd. Ronald Eric Manley, died this afternoon at 2.20 pm in the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital after a series of mini-strokes, and many years of poor health. That he lived to the age of 81 is a tribute to a vast number of different health professionals.

Gifted musician, modern languages teacher and United Reformed Church minister, he led a full and active life and touched the lives of many.
This morning - knowing I was likely to hear the worst today - the words of the Nunc Dimittis came to mind - "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace." And he has. The struggle is over.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


SuperSpouse went to Croydon then Dover yesterday, so he and his pals could ride the Belgian Coast Tram today.

Last night, therefore, it was me that took Cello-Kid back to his halls of residence. Got halfway there, had to turn round for a black shirt that he needed, then back to the halls we went again ... Boys!

Today? This morning I insisted we had to be out of the house by 7.50 am. I was ready and shouting for the boys by 8 am. They had already been ready for at least 5 minutes but spent another ten buzzing up and down stairs getting things they'd forgotten.

Off we went. I didn't know there was a diversion meaning I couldn't go along the Renfrew Road. Back we went and tried a different way. Reached the childminder, late. I was then seriously delayed in traffic. Got to work a mere 5 minutes late, which was a miracle but not good enough. At least I didn't get ticked off. (I'm a grown woman, a professional career-woman, of nearly 50, but scared of getting in trouble for poor timekeeping. Wo-man or wo-mouse?)

The working day was unremarkable. I got in the car and set off to collect the boys from the childminder. I thought I had an hour to take them to McDonald's and then to the school concert. Not so. Traffic was horrendous. When I got to the childminder's, Viola-Kid informed me that he had to be at school half an hour early. Right. We did it, somehow, guzzle guzzle guzzle ...

Eventually, we got back home again after the concert. SuperSpouse rang up to say he'd been to Belgium and back, but somewhere since leaving Glasgow airport, he has lost his car-key. And he didn't care about my stupid, pathetic failure to get out of the house on time because anything I had to say was unimportant and petty. And all my own fault in any case. Right again.

Well, since then I've found the spare car keys. After which, I discovered that Viola-Kid actually had homework to do ... and while I was being berated for my inadequacies, the boys had done their own thing so now Saxophone-Kid AND Viola-Kid were late for bed.

Excuse me while I scream. They only have to be up EARLIER than 7 am tomorrow morning, so we can be out of the house EARLIER than 8.10 am and I can get to work EARLIER than 5 minutes late.


Okay, I'll go and have a coffee then a bath. I think I've had enough of today.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

This week it was Viola-Kid's birthday. He got an X-box, which he's delighted with - but he's not letting his brothers near it. The shouting and arguments are driving us demented. No-one said parenting was easy, but does it have to be so HARD? Sometimes I feel as though I'm his least favourite person in the world.

I'm so tired! I've given four presentations in three weeks, in Canterbury, Plockton and Glasgow. Today I gave the last two of them. They all went well, and I got good feedback.

I'm sad. After a good day talking about research with kindred spirits, I should be feeling up-beat. Instead, I'm knackered and depressed.

It's Viola-Kid's birthday treat tomorrow. I hope I at least get that right! Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This weekend, I'm at the International Association of Music Librarians (UK & Ireland Branch) Annual Study Weekend at the University of Kent in Canterbury.
Flickr image from Robjtak, with thanks.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

It's Mother's Day in the UK. Yesterday, I got flowers and a fabulous pair of earrings. This morning, SuperSpouse gave me a card, then off he went to church. I tidied up after our breakfast then woke the boys.

Cello-Kid gave me a card from all three of them, but forgot to tell his brothers. The middle one didn't speak to me for the next hour, and the little one gave me a row for waking him up, but not telling him to get dressed and have breakfast. (He's NINE! He knows he has to get dressed and have breakfast before we go to church ...)

That was a good start, wasn't it?!

There were two baptisms at church today, but Mother's Day never got a mention. And when we got home, I sorted more washing, cooked lunch, made bread and a cake for tea. It was shaping up to be a normal day. Then the rain began. Oh, woe!

I'd hoped we would go out for afternoon tea, but it didn't look promising. However, I'm happy to relate that the weather dried up, and we had a wonderful afternoon tea in a tea-shop that we hadn't been to in about 13 years! So the day wasn't quite such a wash-out after all. Phew!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hallelujah! Viola-Kid has a second audition to music school.

(Please keep praying and hoping, while we keep practising.)

Image - acknowledgements to

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I went to two postgrad courses today - one on writer's block, and the other on editing, proofreading and referencing.

They never had courses like this when I was a postgrad the first time round! The "Blocked" course was possibly the most useful. It was good being obliged to sit and think about the reasons for NOT sitting down and writing.

I dutifully came up with all the reasons, such as lacking in confidence, feeling as though you're not yet ready, not yet equipped with all the facts, etc, etc. Then I started thinking about other reasons - like, not having enough time. Feeling that I had to get all my domesticity up to date before I could allow myself to think serious Doctoral Thoughts, and so on.

"Not enough time?!", another student commented. "That's not an excuse - anyone can see you don't have enough time!" So there we are - I'm officially time-challenged! Can anyone tell me where I can gain a few hours a week? (You'll agree that I am blogging far less frequently these days, as it is ... )

Right. It's late. I've done nothing doctoral this evening. Instead, I've taken Small-Fry to Boys' Brigade, come home with Viola-Kid and wrapped up two birthday presents, written three cards, set up Mum's new Mothering Sunday phone, fetched Small-Fry home again, organised supper, a viola practice session and two boys to bed. True - I don't have much time to myself!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


So I sit down to help Small-Fry with his piano practice. No, wait a minute - I can deal with paperwork at the same time, so long as it doesn't involve too much concentration.

"Mum - can you fill in this permission slip?"
"Mum - here are details of our Festival entry."
"Mum - - - "
"Hello! Are you there? Hey, answer me!"


Just a minute. "Hey, Viola-Kid! You've done plenty of viola-playing, but shouldn't you do a bit of guitar practice today?"

"Mum - - - "

This image is from Seriykotik1970's photostream at YouTube. Stormy sky to convey the atmosphere when I suggested the "P" word - practice. Groans all round!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Twirling like a top again, Saxophone-Kid and I have been family chauffeurs again today:-

But first, I made lentil soup, set the bread machine going, and processed some laundry.

  • Took Viola-Kid to orchestra;
  • Took SuperSpouse's suit to the cleaner;
  • Took Cello-Kid to his music course;
  • Failed to find Cello-Kid's cello mute. He thought it was still on the old cello that is waiting for someone to buy it from the music shop. We went. It wasn't. The shop didn't have any new cello mutes either;
  • Took Viola-Kid for his guitar lesson;
  • Got Cello-Kid's phone topped up;
Any wonder I've had a tension headache all afternoon?!

Image thanks to

Friday, February 22, 2008

Keep praying and/ or hoping!

"Dear Lord, If it is Your will that this is to happen, then we trust that you will make it possible. If it is not Your will, then please help us to accept it, and to trust that you have another grand plan that we don't even know about yet. Amen."

The audition was on Wednesday. Now we have to wait to see if there will be a second audition (which would be good news) or not (bad).

No-one knows what to expect. The suspense is killing us!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

If you have a faith, please pray! (If not, then just hope hard ...)

This is the countdown. Viola-Kid has his first music school audition on Wednesday morning.

Please pray (or hope) for dedication, determination, application ...

Not forgetting patience, toleration and encouragement from us, his parents and brothers!

Can't ask for much more than that, really. If he gets through to the second auditions, then we'll need a double dose of the same. Here's hoping (and praying).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I have to get this off my chest!

I took a half-day's holiday yesterday afternoon, in order to get everything ready for my two biggest boys to go to Glencoe outdoor education centre for the weekend. Then, once I had dropped them off at the meeting point, I planned to go home and have four hours peacefully doing my research. Meanwhile, SuperSpouse and Saxophone-Kid would go to see The Wizard of Oz.

Everything went according to plan.

EXCEPT! a nasty little tyke repeatedly kicked my middle son's shin, when they were playing football after schoo - and Middleman ended up having great difficulty walking.

So - was he in a fit state to go to Glencoe? No. We took his big brother to the meeting-point, then I took Middleman to Accident and Emergency at our local hospital. Three hours later, we had established that he only had soft-tissue injuries (as I thought) - but there was little point in driving to catch up with the rest of the group in the Highlands, if he wasn't fit.

Our childminder phoned the parents of the NLT. But when they tackled him, he developed convenient amnesia. A dishonest NLT, indeed.

Middleman was upset at missing something he'd looked forward to. We were upset for him, upset that we'd committed £85, and furious at the NLT.

AND I had lost my peaceful, studious evening.

24 hours later, the suffering sportsman has conceded that his leg is less painful now, which is a good sign. However, he found himself playing Gooseberry to our Valentine's meal this evening, because we had made arrangements for his little brother to go to a friend's house, but we hadn't bargained on Middleman being around at all!

Even the Valentine's meal didn't go according to plan. I phoned the restaurant to book a third place, and it was all sorted out. Until we got there, to be told that children weren't allowed in the restaurant after 8 pm. Humph. Luckily, I came up with a Plan B, and we went to our favourite Indian restaurant - which just happened to be five minutes' drive from Saxophone-Kid's friend's house.
And now, at 10 pm, I suppose I ought, belatedly, to do some research. If I can find the energy and motivation to get started ...

Images from flickkgrr, ~bunny~, and outnbout, all on, with thanks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What a woman's left hand is for

You don't realise how useful your hands are, until something happens to them. My carpal tunnel operation has certainly fixed the problem - I managed to sew name-tapes into five pairs of socks with no pins and needles, the other night. The first time in years, I might add.

But some tasks are now off-limit until I regain the strength in my wrist.

  • Ironing

  • Holding a full jug or kettle

  • Using the handbrake (but I manage fine by using both hands)

  • Lifting anything heavy

Using a computer keyboard in short bursts is seen as good physiotherapy. Well, naturally, that's how I use a computer. I use it all day at work - in short bursts, of course - and quite regularly at home. So why, oh why, should it be uncomfortable playing the piano or organ? I can play easy stuff. I can play difficult stuff. But if I play difficult stuff, then my wrist protests. ("Give me a rest, I'm not ready for this yet.")

I'll keep this short - why should I not blog in short bursts, too?!

Image from Alberta Bible College, with thanks.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Tell me something:

Why does Mother Nature arrange for mothers to reach the perimenopause at precisely the same time as their kids reach puberty? Is she having a laugh at humankind's expense?

Of course, this only happens because we women have claimed our right to work! We marry later, have kids later ...

Oh, and by the way - now that we're so modern and advanced, Mother Nature has also arranged that we will be looking after our elderly parents at the same time as we're balancing the tightrope of simultaneous perimenopause and puberty.

I have struggled and worked to get to where I am. I'll go on struggling and working to get to where I feel I should be. But I have to say that it's an uphill struggle!
The image is from the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome, a UK organisation. I hope they won't mind. It looks a very useful group, and I may well revisit the website!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Voluntary redundancies

Do those words strike a chill into your bones? You bet! As does the inevitable threat that, if this doesn't achieve savings, then ...

I would like to log the story here as it unfolds - not just the facts, but also my reactions. However, I can't. Just keep an eye open for media reports.

You can imagine the atmosphere - it really isn't necessary to describe it in detail here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hey, Sisters!

I'm feeling hard-done-by. SuperSpouse commented - and I had to agree - that our stairs were looking scruffy. He has arthritic knees. I have a surgical dressing on one hand. No choice. I got the hand-held vacuum out, and went as far UP as I could go, before I ran out of flex. I've never vacuumed right-handed before.

Then I went upstairs, plugged in, and started on my way DOWN. Supervisor SuperSpouse appears on the scene, and minutely inspects the middle section.


My response was to sweep up all the books, files and papers awaiting his attention, and dump them on the bed. "And this is what the vacuum wouldn't pick up."

Honestly, men! They're not brought up to be helpful, are they?!

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I went back to work yesterday, wearing my sling so that underground passengers would (hopefully) give me a wide berth. It worked - a nice man offered me a seat on the way home. Just as well - I can't stand and hold a handrail, and I wouldn't want to fall against my hand if I lost my balance.

My hand is improving. I can't open a tin of Weight Watchers tuna salad or lift a mug, but I can type. (Good physiotherapy in short bursts, the consultant said.) I can't wash up. I can't iron. I can't hang up washing. Poor SuperSpouse.

This morning, he went to the Transport Museum while I pottered at home with the kids. I didn't take Viola-Kid to orchestra, and felt slightly guilty - but if I'd taken him by bus, I'd have had to hang around until it was over. It's been a wet, horrible day - it just seemed like one thing too many.

This afternoon, Viola-Kid, Saxophone-Boy and I went first to Viola-Kid's guitar lesson and then to Saxophone-Boy's optician's appointment, whilst SuperSpouse took Cello-Kid to the Cello-repair man to get the spike seen to. What a rush! But we made it, and were home at a sensible time for tea.

And I've printed out my transcription of Alexander Campbell's 1815 travel journal - 26,000+ words of it, over 48 typed pages. Boy, do I feel proud of myself! I've marked up any words I find hard to read. I've highlighted any passages about his music collecting for his Albyn's Anthology. And now I can tidy up my desk and start getting my research (and the rest of my life) back in order. I've been totally obsessive about this transcription, but then again, I do want to publish it one day - so it was worth it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cut Up

On Monday I got 36 hours' notice to go and get a carpal tunnel release operation this morning. No time to panic - barely time to get organised.

Then yesterday, Viola Kid's brace needed a repair - nothing for it, I had to take time off to take him to the orthodontist, knowing I wouldn't be able to drive today. Worked very late to make up the time.

Here I am, home again - very numb - having been told not to drive for TWO weeks. What on earth am I to do?

Worse, for the next couple of days I'm typing one-handed with the left arm in a sling. This is dreadful! I can't touch-type with only one hand. And it feels as though I'm going cross-eyed, peering at the keyboard. I only want to get on with my transcription of Alexander Campbell's journal!

Someone say something encouraging, please!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Somewhere in the Western Isles ...

I've been transcribing an early nineteenth century travel journal, in connection with my doctoral research. I'm utterly transfixed by it - I have now typed nearly 20,000 words of it. That's about 71%. I can barely drag myself away. His name is Alexander Campbell, and he travelled over 1200 miles, mostly on foot, collecting Gaelic music in the Highlands and Islands in 1815. (The hyperlink gives you information derived from the Gazetteer for Scotland, and is on the website.)

To my horror, the CD-rom scanned copy is missing two sides - I'm sure only by accident, since it amounts to the left and right sides of the opened journal, rather than a missing leaf. SuperSpouse is politely amused by my extreme frustration that I've been deprived of these vital pages until I can get hold of them. Watch this space.

My hero, notwithstanding this inconvenience, has just survived a horrendous storm and has been drinking the parson's best "Conniack" (well, this is a Highlander describing a French tipple!) before retiring to bed early for the night.

I have NOT been enduring a storm (though the roofer is returning tomorrow to fix our guttering and sundry bits of masonry after a storm about 10 days ago) - but I'm going to follow my hero's example and suggest to SuperSpouse that we should enjoy a very nice Mosel wine before similarly retiring to bed.

The image is a cartoon of Alexander Campbell (on the left, playing a portable organ), together with his brother and a friend.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cold virus in all its glory...?

I'm lurking at home with a stinking rotten cold, feeling sorry for myself. Send sympathy please!

Well, I went to a conference at the University of Guildford after New Year. Discovered my new sat-nav expects me to have four wheels, so it wasn't much use when I flew down and wanted to walk the last mile and a half from Guildford Station to the campus! "Turn at the next available opportunity", the computer-voice advised. "Like now?", I asked her. Silence. Hmmm - better luck when I try her out in the car!

Back to work last week, where one of the colleagues with whom I share an office had a stinking rotten cold. Need I say more.

Yesterday (Sunday), I took my stinking rotten cold to two church services - I didn't hugely enjoy the first and certainly not the second - and in between times, we had visitors to dinner. That at least was successful and enjoyable.

By the time I'd dashed out to the second service and back again, the visitors were gone, and I just slumped. Did you know that "alcohol may affect the performance" of Lemsip Max? I stuck to Lemsip. The red wine would have been nice, but the Lemsip did more for my sinuses!

Back to bed now, before the hot water-bottle cools. Snuffle!