Sunday, 21 December 2014

Highlights of the year

This has been a very good year. Thinking back, I cannot recall anything that wasn't good, although in my age you can always complain of poor health, and that's boring. Also, I have, like so many others, been worried about politics. But for me personally, the year has been good.

In terms of academic achievements, I have published a book. It was the most difficult book I had ever written, and I am very pleased with it. It's too early to say whether it has shifted the paradigm, but the students are referring to it. I have also published several articles and book chapters, most of them written so long ago that I had forgotten about them. Still always nice to see a book with your contribution. Whatever research councils say, books are more important in our branch.

Teaching has been good. Two PhD students have successfully completed their theses. Both have good jobs. Of course my colleague, friend and benefactor, Morag, retired this year, and I miss her, but we have managed to get her replaced, and I am very pleased with my new colleague, even if at the moment I have to do far too much before she is settled. With a newly appointed lecturer in children's literature, chances are good that our course will not be closed down.We also have a new Head of Faculty who so far is promising.

I have attended two conferences, which feels reasonable. One was fun because of good company, but a waste of time professionally. The other went well beyond my expectations. I am going to far too many conferences next year, which you may say is in the future, but it means I haven't been as good as I should have been in saying no this year.

Travel highlight was doubtless Madagascar, but I won't repeat what I have already written.

Closer to home, I spent some lovely days in Kent. An unexpected bonus there was E. Nesbit'sgrave.

I have only been to theatre a couple of times. Emil and the Detectives was great. Blithe Spirit was fun too. I haven't been to a movie, and I haven't watched as many movies at home this year. I think the one that made strongest impression on me was The Pianist, mostly because I had not read the blurb and didn't know that it was a true story and that the protagonist survives. The exhibition Silent Partners at Firzwilliam Museum was fascinating. Otherwise, I am not very good at museums. I don't think I've visited my favourite V&A a single time this year.

I have already written about books of the year.

Our children and grandchildren visited in various constellations, but otherwise it has been quiet on the visitors' front. There have been many parties, but nothing extraordinary. Sadly, I missed Anton's thirtieth birthday party. However, I've had the most extravagant gastronomic experience: The Fat Duck. Once in a lifetime. Not just the best meal of the year, but the best meal I have eaten in my whole life. Not just a meal, an experience for all senses. No words to describe it.

I have been reminded of my mortality by getting a senior bus pass. Unlike senior rail card, you don't get it at 60, but there is a very complicated calculation: I had to be sixty-two years, three months and eight days. I never use a bus, but if I am entitled to it, I got my bus pass.

I bought some new summer clothes that people noticed, and I bought a handbag which I haven't used yet.

I have exercised regularly, but haven't been very good at power walking. This will have to be my new year resulution.

I haven't done a lot of gardening this year because of a bad shoulder. I started another small flower border, and I planted a couple of shrubs. My roses were even better this year, and two are still in bloom. There has been a good harvest of raspberries and blackcurrants, but almost no vegetables.

I have bought my dream dollhouse and have been working on it with great joy. 

I have grown older, wiser and calmer. 

Warm thanks to family, friends and students who have made this year so pleasant.

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