Summer solstice, 2016 – allegedly. Not that I see much of the outside world. In the words of an ancient song of the sixties, ‘It might as well rain until September.’
Thesis housekeeping proceeds apace. There are twenty-eight files on my desktop, the magnum opus entire. The summer months are simply going to be bread and butter work – minus remuneration. Abstract is finished, and the Acknowledgements done, plus a lengthy, if still somewhat scrambled bibliography with numerous lacunae: twelve and a bit pages at present, typed single spacing, 11 pt font, and close on 6000 words. It’s currently divided into one and a half pages of ‘Ancients,’ seven pages of ‘Scholarship,’ another 4 pages of ‘Internet, Journals and Online Sources,’ two items of ‘Multi-media,’ and, finally, ‘Fictions.’ It will be expanded or contracted to a prescribed form anon, but ‘Figures, maps and Illustrations / Plates’ are yet to be finalised and listed.
Citations are still a bore. No one replied to my pleas for a ruling, so I’ll go with the Chicago system – it’s my default choice, and straightforward. Harvard in-lines are irritating to reader, and writer.
Next is a double-check of pagination, to marry up the discrete sections into one whole ‘book,’ the rough completed copy of which is due at the uni by end August. Pagination will mean fiddling with those sections that require Roman numerals, ahead of the thesis’s actual first No. 1 page. So, it will be longer than its current two hundred and fifty seven pages.
However, I foresee a potential fankle. I have two ‘fair’ copies of chapters to date – and a plethora of bits and pieces to incorporate or move / remove. Should be fun. Not.
The saga of internal / external examiners hasn’t, as yet, reached a conclusion, and I’m experiencing qualms about ‘who is my reader’? The audience is important to me. It’s my imagination, but it sort of sets the tone. Even for the driest of academic prose the rules of writing obtain, and after years of picturing silent readers out there sitting in judgement it’s impossible to shift him, her or them.
Books – when this four year learnéd exercise is over, I shall have a sale on Abe and Amazon: the many volumes I shall no longer need or want. Living space in this cottage is under siege, and one must make room on the shelves, let alone clear the floor.
Every so often I prune the Kindle ‘library,’ too. It’s not that the K won’t hold enough books to fill a stack at another British Library, it’s simply that many downloads are discarded, unfinished. I tend to comb through free or cheap books on offer, and occasionally alight on gems. Others are mere dross, and not worth the reading.
The ebook publishing phenomenon has been a gift to every Tom, Dick or Harriet who ever dreamed of writing a novel. Now they have. All of ‘em.
You’ll have better luck if the book’s been conventionally published as well as electronically. Titles tend to be properly edited, for starters. Self-publishers stick out a mile, and can make readers grind their teeth. As I’m a pedant and a stickler, just a couple of infelicities make for the swift but effective Dorothy Parker reaction.
June began with an almost universal condemnation of the BBC’s coverage of the death of Muhammad Ali (it went on, and on, for 24 hours). Then we had HM the Queen’s more important celebrations (which didn’t). After weeks of hot sunshine, normal service (grey rain) resumed, but sadly not normal service on the BBC. Weeks and weeks of sport are scheduled, with programming all over the place (except for the soaps, those grim opiates for the masses). I’ve laid in DVDs, but not enough to cover the wretched football in France, the tennis at Wimbledon and the Rio Olympics. By 21 August I shall have become a gibbering mindless wreck.
Perhaps I should write another novel! Except I’ve had enough of this computer to last a lifetime.
The first weekend of June I was over in Glasgow, and someone went into the rear of my little car. The damage wasn’t major, but O! the hassle that’s ensued. In the old days, you obtained three estimates, bunged these to your insurers and your car was fixed as soon as humanly possible. Not so now.
To start with, my insurers recommended handing over the no-fault claim to an auto-assistance company. By doing so, I could avoid paying my hefty excess. OK – fine.
I regretted it almost immediately, but digital contracts had been ‘signed,’ the ‘paperwork’ returned, and rescinding would mean more hassle.
It was the gentleman who was despatched hither to estimate and photograph the damage who really put the lid on the whole thing. First, he was supposed to be here sometime between six and 8.00pm.
He wasn’t. He was late.
Secondly, he roared up in a bright red Ferrari, of all things. A long low fume-spewing dragon of a car that will have surprised the village residents, let alone such a vehicle landing outside my humble door!
Don’t ask me which model it was – I haven’t a clue.
Estimator-man leapt out, Apple phone in hand, and snapped away. By this time I was experiencing serious reservations. What is so lucrative about the auto-assistance world that its inspection guys can speed around the countryside in snarling Ferraris? He and his female passenger then shot off again in a cloud of exhaust that probably broke all emission records, and disappeared around the corner at FTL warp speed. I could hear them for a long, long time after, as they burned up Main Street.
You know when you see the prancing pony on the front bonnet (hood) that it probably spells trouble with a capital ‘F.’
Incidentally, fluffy orange cat’s still around. He eats, sleeps and keeps watch on our kitchen doorstep. He’s attempting to gain admittance to the house – but however sorry I feel for him, wet and bedraggled in the rain, his long coat in such a mess, I cannot let him in. For all her advanced age, Bonnie would go for him, a hissing spitting growling virago. She eyes him through the windows. If he didn’t possess a microchip I would have taken him to the cat shelter weeks ago. It’s such a shame. People who can’t look after animals properly shouldn’t keep them.
I did contact the SSPCA, but (as has always been my invariable experience) no action’s been taken – or, if it was, I’m not aware of it. Neither is the cat: he’s still here, rain or shine, 24/7. He sleeps on the doormat, or under the dogwoods when it’s wet.
The SSPCA said they’d let me know what their findings were, but ...
Zilch. Nada. ‘Tis ever thus with that lot. The English RSPCA would’ve done something positive by now, and resolved the poor cat’s problem, as well as my concerns for his welfare.
Apart from the insane murder of one of our parliamentary MPs on 16 June, for which there are no words, there is that damn’ referendum this week, the ‘in / out’ vote on Europe. The ‘pro-remain’ intellectuals’ arguments worry me – not because they aren’t cogent: they are – but because no one’s listening. The Conservatives have answers, but don’t want these questioned, and the rest of us are full of questions. It’s all overwrought black and white emotionalism, and consequently (for me, anyway) invalid.
I despair of this dim-witted little country, with its narrow obsessions and its less-than-educated populace at the mercy of the Daily Mail or its ilk. #1 daughter blogged last week about her country, and what’s really important.
But how many voters are like the 90 year old lady who thinks full employment will return to the East End if she puts her cross in the ‘out’ box? We can’t all go back overnight to some Shangri-la of the seventies, or even the fifties, that lost land of content where we can never ‘come again’:
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
– A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad, 1896
Who are the British, anyway, when citizenship can be bought? I shall not stay up to watch the breathless coverage, the guessing games and talking heads. What’s the point? We’ll all know the result a mere couple of hours ahead of the breakfast news bulletins. You cannot change anything, so why bother?
Picture credits: Orpheus coin: Staatliche Muzeen du Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Thrace 3.0: exhibition, Coinage in the land of Orpheus, 16.10.2015 to 15.10.2016, Bode-Museum, http://www.smb.museum/en/exhibitions/detail/thrakien-30-muenzpraegung-im-land-des-orpheus.html (Thracian coins in the holdings of the Berlin Münzkabinett);
Ferrari badge: Google Images;
Louise Shaw Ankers: http://jiltedgeneration.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/my-britain-is-britain-of-pied-beauty.html;
Home of the Greek word, http://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/physis/platotimaeus/default.asp;