Well, this week the children were back at school, which meant I had a bit more time, but my husband was still at home, which meant there was a bit of a distraction.  But I’ve got quite a lot done, partly because it’s been reading week so I haven’t had Spanish or the MA course to go to.  Also because I had a husband at home to make my brews!

For the MA course I’ve skimmed through a couple of articles on the Atlantic world.   Normally I would do this preparatory reading on Mondays, but next Monday I have a funeral to go to.  I’ve also done a bit of Spanish homework, on my study routine and learning Spanish.  I’ve read about George Marsh and the arrival of Protestantism in Lancashire.  I read a really appalling biography of Margaret Clitherow too.  Two or three times on every page I was told that a character ‘must have felt’ something or ‘must have done’ something or ‘must have thought’ something.  The appearance of the two words ‘must have’ immediately put me off.  If they are followed by ‘felt’ or ‘thought’ I am instantly irritated and have to overcome an almost overwhelming urge to throw the book out of the closest window.

For my literature review, I’ve read a book of essays edited by Anna Whitelock and Alice Hunt, some of which were very interesting, others less so.  I was surprised by how little in the way of primary source material some of them used.  I’ve also read about 200 pages of Alexandra Walsham’s ‘Charitable Hatred’.  After reading about 100 pages, I skipped to the end and read the conclusion.  Then I went back to read the rest.  It was much easier then, and I think this might be the way forward.  After all, it’s not like reading a novel, where it spoils it if you know the ending; by reading the conclusion first you can then see if the book fulfils its stated aims and whether it really has made the case effectively for its conclusions.  I’ve decided it’s good to know where you’re going.

Apart from the studying, I’ve been on a pencil-sharpening course: ‘Improve Your Presentation Skills’.  It was quite amusing, and some of the participants were clearly out of their comfort zone when asked to make strange phonic noises and breathe from their diaphragms.  Happily, having done so much singing, such things are normal for me!  But it was good to have things reinforced.  And it all counts towards training hours.  Oh, and at least there wasn’t a dead mouse under my desk.

this morning my husband insisted that we went to Ikea and bought a new swivelly-office chair for me, as I’ve been using a cheap plastic one for the lat couple of years.  Consequently, as I write this this evening I am much more comfortable.  After school I went shopping in Bury.  Having lived in jeans for the last 9 years, I had to get some clothes suitable for a funeral.  I bought a pair of grey trousers from M&S on the grounds that they’d do for anything else that I had to do that required relatively smart clothes.  Thinking ahead, there.  Afterwards we all went to the Scout fireworks at church, where we watched a few fireworks go off and more of them not, while we got extremely wet.

At the beginning of the week I sent my supervisors and head of postgraduate studies an email saying how unhappy I was last week.  IT listed all the ideas that I had had or had been suggested over the last 2 years that I could develop into a PhD, along with reasons why I had discounted them.  I got a nice, placatory message back from my supervisor, and went back to work with renewed enthusiasm.  I still, however, have no idea what I’m going to spend the remainder of my three years working on, and although I am told that the prescribed reading will be useful whatever I decide to do, I can’t help feeling like I’m rather wasting my time.  It’s not as if I can overrun on the three years.  I don’t have the time or the money.