Monday, August 31, 2009

The Days Thou Gavest....

Well.....that's the summer hols over for another year, and needless to say I am riven with guilt about not appreciating it more at the time blah blah blah. As per usual. Actually it was great: I loved every moment of our foreign sojourn. The fact that we've been to the same mediterranean island for the past six years (...I know - how predictable) lent the strange illusion that the total weeks spent on vacation had consolidated into one six-week long visit, and by the end of our second day we could not believe that we'd only been there a mere 48 hours. So we ate and drank and sunbathed far more than would be deemed good for our bodies, but it was immensely healing and nourishing to the soul - and that's what holidays are all about. But back to this grey and bickering small island with its cold drizzle and unappetising diet......We are already planning our next escape.
At the moment, I feel quite tired out and unenthused about rejoining the fray: the Bright-Eyed Boy returns to school later this week, leaving daughter #3 and myself to make a few desultory trips for new school uniform before she goes back next week. Then I am on my own again, facing the HUGE responsibility of becoming a full-time, fully-funded PhD student at the beginning of October. Ulp! (That, and daughter #2's wedding which is scheduled for a fortnight's time) No doubt I'll perk up once relieved of my quotidien maternal resposibility. Perhaps I should buy some new stationery goods to symbolise my new 'start'. I remember from my schooldays that a new pencil-case and jotter always seemed to promise a new, improved term-time identity, a new commitment to study and enthusiasm. I was always baffled by those who chose to cling on to their scruffy old pencil-cases and eschewed new goods: were they deliberately embracing asceticism as a style-choice or simply unable to appreciate the frisson generated by minor self-indulgence? Probably neither - they just weren't as neurotic as me, and no doubt their lives have gone on to be models of rectitude and fiscal commonsense.
I was mesmerised in the outbound airport by a rack of Moleskine goods of every size. Had I not been going on my holidays (rather than returning from them) I would no doubt have plundered the display for another large floppy-back 18-month diary (week per page). I've been using one of these for over a year now and am very conscious that it runs out at Christmas and I haven't seen one locally. I love it: it's now covered in my erratic handwriting in various different inks and is full of useful website addresses, quotes, references and bibliographic essentials. My supervisor expressed a modicum of surprise that I 'did everything longhand'. I don't - at least not 'proper' work -but I've never mastered the art of cyber-notes - where do they all go? Everything that has caught my imagination or attention is there to see and, most usefully, I can usually visualise a particular item's whereabouts on the page or pen-colour which makes its retrieval much easier than snatching it back out of the ether. It is a real vade mecum, a commonplace, a forum, a repository of knowledge, ideas and the springboard of thought. And much as I love the functionality and range of my laptop, it will never replace my diary.

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