August 2017

As I write this, I’m still waiting to hear whether I’ve been granted any money to pay for the images and permission rights for a few illustrations for the book, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the problems of images recently.

My royalties won’t cover the cost of the illustrations (unless, of course, it turns out to be a bestseller that goes to many  print runs…. well, a girl can dream!).  I don’t have a full-time job that I can use to subsidise the cost, so I’m a bit stuck.  Really, I could do with 3 broadside images and a folio from a manuscript to illustrate some of the key points that I want to make, but if I don’t get funding, that might not happen.  I have to think about what I will do if the answer is “No”.

It occurred to me that the simplest solution would be to leave out the broadsides altogether.  There are plenty of freely available images of broadside ballads on the internet these days, so it’s not as if the genre is entirely unfamiliar or even obscure.  There would even be a couple of advantages.  Firstly, it would mean I could focus even more directly on the music: it would free up 4 more images for extra musical examples.  Secondly, I wouldn’t have to wait around for the archives to make the digital images and send them to me, or wait for permission to use them.

As usual, it is the not knowing that is the most frustrating thing.  In the meantime, I’m going to have a few days’ break to let things settle before the final assault on getting the text into the house style, so there might be a hiatus in blogging too…


I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks working on my book, which is due to go to the publishers, Routledge, in the autumn.  The first task was to apply for some money to pay for a few high quality images and the rights to use them, and I’m still waiting to hear about that.  Then there was the task of looking again at the rest of the images, primarily to decide which ones I could afford to lose in order to reduce the number to the required level, but also to try to find manuscript sources that I could transcribe for some of the tunes.  Rather than get rid of lots of musical figures, I decided to combine the manuscript transcriptions with a vocal line and lyrics, which has proved to be a good way of bringing the numbers down to manageable proportions.

Of course, I have also had to spend time addressing the issues that the readers raised – nothing was particularly dramatic, but there seemed to be a lot of it.   At first, I was a bit overwhelmed.  After all, it wasn’t something I’d ever had to do before and I didn’t feel like I knew where to start.  I spent an entire day tinkering with bits and putting them back how they were, basically procrastinating.  I was trying to avoid acknowledging my anxiety.  By the end of the day I couldn’t ignore it any longer, and I had to ring my fiend for advice on how to deal with it.

The answer was to spend the following day breaking down the readers’ reports into their constituent parts and making it into a list that I could tick off.  I even added in some of the things that I knew I wanted to do but hadn’t managed to get to.  It was about 50 items long, ranging from the sublime (looking again at my entire theoretical framework, for example, with a view to making it more my own) to the ridiculous (checking specific little details such as checking that individual footnotes hadn’t wandered away from their point in all the rewrites).  My fiend’s further advice was to start with some of the little ones, so that I knew I was underway.

It seemed to work.  Once I’d got started and ticked a few things off, I felt a lot better. Actually, I didn’t just tick them off, I put a big squiggly crossing-out line through them too, which was much more satisfying, as well as making a note of how I’d approached the changes where necessary.  By the second or third day I was able to tackle some of the bigger things, and I’m well on the way now to having it all ready.

Now most of it just depends on the out come of the grant application…


Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, Research and Innovation (England)
Kirsty Williams AM, Cabinet Secretary for Education (Wales)
Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science (Scotland)
Economy Minister (seat currently vacant, previously Simon Hamilton), Northern Ireland Executive (NI)
Vice-Chancellors of all UKHE institutions
Heads of Humanities Faculties and Departments of all UKHE institutions
The Leverhulme Trust
The Arts and Humanities Research Council
The Economic and Social Research Council
The British Academy
The European Research Council
The Wellcome Trust
The Russell Group
Universities UK.

We write as members (existing staff, students, and graduates) of UK humanities departments to object to the proliferation of precarious short-term teaching contracts across UKHE institutions. As the UCU has reported, nearly half of UK universities now use zero-hours contracts to deliver teaching, and more than…

via To the leaders and major stakeholders of humanities departments within UKHE institutions — Open Letter on Precarious and Unethical Short Term Contracts

With many thanks to Emilie Murphy for organising us all!

I am pleased to tell everyone that I’ve been appointed a Visiting Fellow at the University of Southampton from today.   I’m proud to be associated with a department that includes Professors Anne Curry and, of course, G.W. Bernard, even if most of the time it’s going to be at a distance!

Visiting fellows are senior academics or those with specialist skills who are appointed to collaborate with university staff on research and/or teaching programmes in order to produce significant, measurable outcomes.  My role is to advise on some ballad research in the department.  I’m hoping also that we might be able to organise a conference or workshop on military ballads sometime in the next twelve months.