It’s nice to be able to sit out in the garden blogging in October. I’m not even wearing a jumper! We now have an enormous number of birdfeeders, which my husband is busy cleaning while I sit here typing. As well as the usual array of tits, sparrows and golfinches, we have a siskin, a robin and a blackbird with a mop of white feathers on his head whom we have named Boris. Anyway, back to the work.
On Wednesday I went into Manchester to the university for my first meeting with Glyn Redworth to discuss my work, and very productive it was too. Lots of fun, in fact. It made me think though – I’m very lucky to have such a good relationship with my supervisor. I look at friends who go to their supervisory meetings worried that their ideas and work will be rubbished, and I know that’s something I no longer have to worry about. Which is not to say that my work is perfect and all my ideas are fantastic, but at least I know that they will be respected and challenged politely. I’ve seen people come away from supervision meetings ready to throw themselves under the fist 147 bus to pass down Oxford Road because they don’t feel like the criticism has been constructive. For me, instead, talking to my supervisor is like mental gymnastics: it involves a lot of quick and agile thinking, and gives me plenty to work on afterwards. But there’s also a lot of laughter. After my meeting on Wednesday, I slept really badly on Wednesday night, mainly because I had so many ideas buzzing round in my head! Surely this is the way that PhD study should be? Although I will grant you that insomnia probably isn’t best practice!  But I am sure that happy students are more productive and creative ones.

Most of the ballad musicology I’ve been reading this week and last is very old, and I’m happy to report it doesn’t say anything particularly earth-shattering. We talked about it at my meeting and agreed that this was probably A Good Thing. We also decided that while we look into making some alterations to my plans, it would be better for me to concentrate on getting my John Roberts article ready for submission to a journal. So that’s what I spent most of Thursday and Friday doing.
I also have to make some plans for a visit to some archives in London. London is not my favourite place, so I’m not really looking forward to it, and I’ve been putting it off. In the words of Dr Seuss, I’m a north-going zax and I prefer to head north into the country than south into the city. But I don’t think I can put it off any longer. I need to visit the Society of Antiquaries of London, and probably the British Library. I could also do with a visit to the Vaughan Wiliams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House. I’m not going to have very long there – two and a half days at most. So I think that before I head to the big archives in London I need to practise on a local one, so I think I might head into Preston to the Lancashire County Record Office. I think for the next few days I need to spend some time trawling the archive catalogues to see what there is.
Is it right to enjoy a PhD this much?!

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