Friday, 15 February 2013


As usual, I am inspired by my daughter's blog. Young as she is, she cannot think more than five years back and three years into the future. I can take a quick glance fifty years back and state that I was finishing primary school and discovering that everybody in the world was in love and if I didn't fall in love soon life wouldn't be worth living.

However, I'll keep to Julia's pattern.

Five years ago I had just applied for a Chair in Cambridge and was apprehensive at the thought of approaching interviews. I had just been diagnosed with something that explained my life neatly to me and wondered whether it would have made any difference if I had known it all along.

Three years ago... goodness, I have no idea. It was my second year in Cambridge, I was still seriously lacking in confidence and kept silent in meeting. The students who were doing their masters are now finishing their PhDs. About this time I went to Finland and Sweden for guest lectures, a conference and a doctoral defence. I also did a keynote talk at a conference in Norway. I was working on a book that I am still working on.

A year ago I was full of energy, having won some battles at work. I was busy with PhD admissions. I was preparing a talk for a conference in Germany. I was also looking forward to my 60th birthday.

Yesterday I was as frustrated as an academic can be.

Tomorrow I will work on my book in the morning and then dig in the garden, weather permitting.

Next year this time I hope that the book will be published. I may have started on a new project, but have no idea what it could be. There will be a new bunch of masters and hopefully a few new PhD students. Kory will have settled in Sweden and hopefully have a job. Our oldest grandchild will be almost eighteen.

In five years I will be finishing my work at Cambridge and planning my retirement. I will not be taking on any new PhD students. I will hopefully have a bunch of younger colleagues who will take over research and teaching of children's literature in Cambridge. My present PhD students will be internationally recognised scholars. The book I am writing at the moment will be the standard work in the area. We will have some more grandchildren and a couple of great-grandchildren. The little olive tree in front of my window will be large.

Conversely, beginning from tomorrow onward, I may be dead. (In fact, I may be dead within the next hour, but that's far too optimistic).

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