All my days start with the cat urging me to get up. She has already had her first breakfast, but she hopes I don't know and will give her more. Unless I am in a hurry I stroke her for a while – they say it keeps your blood pressure down. Then I do a quick Asian self-massage, which is basically patting yourself all over. It's amazing what a difference it makes. Staffan prepares breakfast while I take a shower. We eat in the kitchen and drink coffee in the living room. I dress and make up my face. Before leaving, I sit down with a three-minute hourglass.
The traffic was really slow this morning, but I don't mind. I listen to Classic FM. I have been training for a long time to actually listen and not let my thoughts stray away. It is harder than you can imagine.
I had several activities planned for the day. This is a family joke. Some years ago one of our granddaughters went to a two-day camp and was very excited because they had had five activities before lunch. My first activity today was a Formative Talk. This is the part of my job that I like least. It implies talking to my research group members and telling them that they must work harder and Comrade Napoleon is always right.* I have to report to Director of Research that we are all working as hard as we can. Actually, the Formative Talk turned out to be quite pleasant. We went to Combination Room for a cup of coffee and talked about all kinds of things, mostly related to working harder. I had another Formative Talk later on that also went well (more coffee in Combination Room). Before that, I sent my secretary abstracts for two research seminars, and since she is so amazingly efficient she had put them on the web almost before I sent them. There were about three million urgent emails to respond to, three student essay drafts, one (only one today!) recommendation letter, one masters application, two visiting scholar applications and a few inquiries from overseas students. I also managed to write to the College Principal and the Faculty Head asking for money for my research centre and explaining why this should be their highest priority. Every morning I write a list of urgent things to do on a piece of paper. I do have a proper planner in my computer, but it is never just as satisfactory as ticking off something on paper. Today I never even got halfway through my list.
During lunch I had to explain to a colleague who had not heard it before what I did for a living. As soon as I mentioned children's literature he started asking me what he should read for his two-year-old and was clearly disappointed when he realised that it wasn't what my work was about. Some people had seen my BBC interview about President Obama's children's book and made caustic comments.
I had a brief supervision session with a student, and then I taught a class. It is my favourite class: first introduction to picturebooks. It's always a revelation. The students have these preconceived ideas that picturebooks are for babies and get a shock when I start discussing the complexities. By the time I got through my slide show they were awed. Then I told them to pick a book each from a pile on my desk and spend the last hour of the class looking at it. At the end of the hour they felt they had just begun. Which was exactly my intention.
I took a brief look at my email before I turned off the computer to make sure that nobody had given me the Nobel Prize today either. There were loads of messages which I will deal with tomorrow.
Staffan made a delicious stew for dinner, and the cat is getting better. It was a very satisfactory day with many activities, and I am very, very tired. I am going to bed and read a non-work-related book. If there is such a thing.
* quoting Boxer in Animal Farm