January 2011

Since we returned to Manchester just over a week ago, I’ve been running pretty much on automatic. Then, of course, the focus was getting my essay written. That, I did on the Sunday after we got back, and although I would’ve handed it in on the Monday, the college printers were down and in the event, i didn’t get it in till Thursday. Still, I’ve been running on automatic. focusing on getting through the days, rediscovering the joy of learning and reading.

The rest of this entry is pretty emotional. If you’re going through a hard time, you may not want to read it. For that reason, I’m sticking it behind a cut.



a third uni has responded.. another conditional offer, this time they want me to pass the course I’m on, with Distinction in 45 Credits at Level 3 including 12 Credits at Merit or above at Level 3 in History.

I’m not sure whether they want 45 Distinction credits or 12 Credits at Merit (or above), but if you get the former, surely you get the latter? hmmm. confooozing. I think maybe the Distinction part is an error, as 45 Distinctions is very very tough, but I may have to contact them to be sure. Anyway. this is for my third choice, i think, so.. still two more to hear from.. watch this space!

got the results back from the assignment from the second module of the Archaeology side, the one where I had to write about an archaeological object and describe an archaeological specialist.

Triple Distinctions. Each distinction is for a particular quality of the assignment – on the briefing sheet, we’re told what qualities the assignment is being graded for. In detail:

Use of Information: Distinction. Good explanations of the form and function of objects, and the work of the archaeological specialist in question.

Use of knowledge: Distinction. Excellent awareness of techniques and specialist roles, and how they fit together.

Quality: Distinction. An individual response to the question, with exemplary attention to detail and a great written style.

Or as Dad said about the last assignment I got three distinctions for: “I’m very pleased i have such a smartarse cleverclogs for a daughter”. so that’s what i’ll be from now on. a smartarse cleverclogs daughter. 🙂

I also found out the conditions for the two universities that have given me conditional offers. One just wants me to pass this course. the other wants me to pass this course, get 45 credits at level 3 (which is equivalent to A Level. the vast majority of the modules on this course are level 3 anyway, so if i pass (60 credits) then I’ll have achieved this part regardless), and of those 45, 30 of them need to be at distinction. Ah. a bit harder.

Never mind. 7 down. 23 to go…


ahh.. i do love village life.. we went to the village quiz with Mum this evening. Best evening’s entertainment I’ve had in a long time. Yes, some people might think that a sad thing, but in all honesty, i don’t. It was fun, I got to spend time with Michiel and Mum and a new friend, and we walked home through the bracing cold with smiles on our faces. It was the perfect pick-me-up end to the two weeks we’ve spent here, two weeks of a real range of emotions, but I felt happy tonight. And while there will still be, inevitably, moments of grief about Dad, tears in the eyes sort of thing, and moments of worry about Mum, the future feels brighter. She has good friends looking out for her, she’s going to be kept busy over the next few months, and while nothing will ever replace Dad, she’s not going to stop living. And that i think is the best thing to hope for. A character in a book once said it very well. Just because you can no longer feast at a banquet, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a different kind of meal at a different table.

I’ve also heard from another university. Another conditional offer… two down, three to go. Fingers crossed for the rest!!!

Tomorrow: we go home. Home to some really hard work – i’ve been neglecting my studies the last two weeks. and while understandable.. it can’t continue. So.. time to knuckle back down!

Mum pulled out a couple of boxes tonight, with all our old documents: old letters, cards, wedding stuff, school stuff, both hers, dad’s, and mine. We’ve spent a lovely evening reminiscing, the pair of us, and I came across a story that I had written at school, which mum carefully copied out. Its not dated, but it is signed by me, and from the style of signature, I think I must have been about 11 or 12. So… to hear from my 11 year old self, a story set on the ‘Victory’, the famous ship that Horatio Nelson died on at the Battle of Trafalgar.

“I was on the ship “Victory” on October 21st, 1805. In the morning of the day, everyone was very glum and quiet. No man laughed, no mouse squeaked. Every man, every boy was saying his prayers. A few talked quietly, but not many. Everyone knew that when the drummers started drumming, the battle would begin.

I was all tensed up, wondering if i would come out alive from the battle. There were many men, some from Spain, Italy, and men from all different countries. There was one man, called Joshua, a black man who I liked the look of. But he came from Africa and no one could understand what he said.

‘Lunch!’ cried someone, probably an officer and we were all handed a piece of pork. This was a treat as we only used to get oats with maggots in.

There was a lot of shouting and singing and I enjoyed myself tremendously. The only drawback was the thought of battle.

‘Drrrrrrrrruuuummmm!’ … ‘Drrrrrrrruuuuuum!’ came the sound of the drums. Everyone instantly jumped jup and started to load the cannons. It was hard work and the balls were heavy and precious. If you dropped one it would break through the wood and the water would come rushing in. Then the ship would sink. One man dead. Two men dead already. Would I ever come out of this alive? Three men dead. All the guns were loaded and it was time to fire. It was my job to pull the cord.

‘Fire!’ … ‘Fire!’ … ‘Fire!’ and so on. When it was our cannon’s turn to fire, I pulled the cord and jumped back. As we were loading the cannon again, someone was carried through, and I got a glimpse of the face. It was Lord Nelson.

‘The Lord Nelson!’ I shouted above all the rumbling noises. In fact I was so busy, I didn’t notice that the cannon was loaded.

‘Wake up, Billy!’ a friend shouted in my ear, and I got ready to pull the cord.

‘Fire!’ … ‘Fire!’ … ‘Fire!’ once again. I was so busy wondering what had happened to Nelson that I forgot to jump back.

‘Ahhhhhhh!’, I yelled. ‘Quick, get it off!’ I was carried into the cockpit. It was my turn soon.

‘You are lucky’, the surgeon told me. ‘We can save your leg. You will only have to lose two toes.’

‘Oh No!’, I thought. ‘How long will I be able to bear the pain?’ Then I passed out and I knew nothing more.

When I woke up I found myself on the floor. I wanted to see the sun, so I crawled up to where the guns were firing. I looked out of the window, but what did I see? No beautiful sun, just clouds, wreckage, and a pig swimming through the water.

Then, as a ship blew up, a splinter went through my head and I fainted, thinking I was going to die, and I quickly said some prayers. In my heart I suddenly knew I was going to die…..

What’s interesting for me, reading back over this, is both the holes in the story (I fainted AND said my prayers? and there are no windows on board ship!) and the way that things are not explained, is also the groping towards good writing techniques.. and the imagination! I remember visiting the Victory during a school trip, so I would have learned some things from that trip, but honestly, where does the imagination pull a pig swimming through the water, or a black man on board? What’s interesting is that i learned recently from a television programme that there were often black men (slaves) serving aboard Royal Navy ships of the time, and a ship consisting of mostly black men served with honours at Trafalgar, and what happened afterwards to the men who survived was very sad. But I’m not sure my 11 year old self would’ve known all this. How fascinating…

Sadness: tomorrow is Dad’s funeral.

Joy: I heard from one of the universities I’ve applied for. A Conditional offer, although i don’t know what the conditions are at this point. I hope not too high, as this university, I regard as my “backup” university. 1 down.. 4 to go. So now i’m in at at least one of them: all i have to do is to meet the conditions they ask for….

Michiel and I went into Ludlow (the nearest town to where Mum lives) yesterday, to spend the afternoon looking around the church, exploring the back alleys and little shops that make up 90% of the shops in Ludlow. Very few chain stores: the only “names” I knew were Timpsons (the shoe heeler/key cutter) and Stead and Simpson, who sell shoes. There were lots of little deli-type shops: selling cheese, meats (two butchers had rabbits and pheasants hanging outside their door which was great to see, and you could buy mixed game, venision.. great!), breads and cakes, all sorts. Lots of charity shops too – we had a good rummage and I came away with some great books for studying. Got some other stuff done too: got my Dad’s watch resized to fit my wrist, my coat dry cleaned, picked up another pair of leggings. But best of all was the food we had at a charming little cafe/restaurant called ‘Aragons’. They don’t have a website or I’d point you towards it, but if you’re inclined towards a meal in Ludlow, and you don’t want to pay through the nose, then you could do a lot worse than to eat here. Michiel had a gorgeous mixed grill, all made with good local meats: Gammon, Steak (a thin one, but expertly cooked), bacon, some of *the* best sausages i’ve tasted in a long time, proper onion rings, fried mushrooms and a decent fried egg. All for the princely sum of £12.75, which is not bad going. oh, with a side of chunky chips. I had scampi and chips. Proper scampi, as in prawns dipped in batter and breadcrumbs and fried, not the stuff that is passed off as scampi in so many bad pubs (reformed “prawns”.. *shudder*), and the chips.. oohhh the chips were gorgeous. chunky cut, fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside.. serious nomable. And then there was pudding. Award winning warm honey cake, served with organic honey and ginger icecream… it was the kind of pudding where, on first bite, your toes curl, your eyes roll back in your head, you close your eyes, and the world just recedes, there’s just you, and the mouthful of food, communing in silent, orgasmic bliss. yes, it was THAT good!!

The Tower of St. Laurence's Church, Ludlow

St. Laurence, over the main entrance to St. Laurence's Church in Ludlow. St. Laurence was a Roman who worked with the poor, orphans n the disabled. When asked by the Emperor Valerian to turn over the treasures of the church, he presented them with the poor, saying that these were the treasures of the church. For this, he was tortured and roasted on a grid iron.

West Window of St. Laurence's Church in Ludlow, a beautiful stained glass window

Detail of the West stained glass window of St. Laurence's Church in Ludlow. Prince Arthur of Wales was the son of Henry VII, who died in Ludlow Castle in 1502, six months after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. His death set in procession the reformation: his younger brother, Henry, became Prince of Wales instead, and on the death of their father, Henry VIII. He proceeded to marry the Spanish Catherine of Aragon and, 30 years later, ripped apart the church in England, and much of England, in his quest to end his marriage to Catherine, on the basis of that she'd been married to his brother before him (and he wanted a son by another woman.. one Anne Boleyn).

Standing underneath the tower of St. Laurence's, Ludlow, looking up.




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