April 2011


I’ve been reading through my grandmother’s journals, the last couple of days. These are journals from about 20-30 years ago, that she wrote every night. She’s not very well these days – she has memory problems and often struggles to remember who important people in her life are, which is a great shame, as she was a very intelligent and talented lady. Her journals are very interesting: full of little nuggets about village life, the interactions between people and I long to turn these into proper books. But the latest journals were written in 1990, and concern events that would still upset the individuals involved, who are undoubtedly still alive today, so publication, as it is, cannot happen – unless I change all details to protect people’s privacy.

She writes a great deal about the village ins n outs, as I have said, but also observations on her family (including events I honestly do not remember about myself, and other ones I do, and one I have very cherished memories of, so it was lovely to read her side of the experience as well), notations on the weather (as a keen gardener, always a priority!) and observations on international politics. She had quite a unique take on international events, including once referring to Noregia as “a bad boy”! But best of all, she’s brought my grandfather alive again, and brought the grandmother that I knew when I was young back, in a way that I cherish very much. My mother is under strict orders not to dispose of these – when Grannie is gone, I’m going to find these a deep comfort, I think. I may well share more nuggets from these in the future. but for now, in re-reading the first in the set last night, I ran across two entries which I want to share here, which are safe to share here, and which I think are very timely, given what is about to occur on Friday…

‘Thursday November 5th, 1981

…We heard on the news tonight that the Princess of Wales is to have a baby in June next year. I remember the day Prince Charles was born, so well. Mickey (my grandfather) brought my morning tea, and said “Princess Elizabeth has got a son!”

Monday June 20th, 1982

Tonight we had the news that all the nation has been awaiting with pleasurable anticipation – the Princess of Wales has given birth to the long awaited baby – and it is a boy, 7 lbs and a little bit, with fair hair and blue eyes. The poor girl was in labour for 15 hours, and Prince Charles was at the birth. He was interviewed afterwards as he left the hospital and said amongst other things that “it makes you grow up”. We are both very happy for them, and delighted that it is a boy. I wonder what he will be called? There is a bet on, apparently, that he will be called ‘George’. I hope not – it is not a pretty name and I hope they go for something more English-sounding – Edward would be much better, I think, if they have to choose a family name. But I think a John, a Robert or a David would be nice, and all suitably ‘connected’. But I think I’d choose Richard, as the best of all, if I had a say.

Tuesday June 21st, 1982

On the T.V. news today, we saw the first picture of the new baby prince – or rather, of the top of his head, as his mother and father brought him home from the nursing home. It seems incredible that they get mothers up and about so early these days. Both parents looked proud and delighted, but I expect all they want now is to be left alone to enjoy their baby and each other….’

She never does say what she thinks of William as a name, but I find it interesting that she likes Edward, John and Richard – all names with less than ideal connections, Edward (as in Edward VIII, he of the Duke of Windsor, and Wallis Simpson) would have made William Edward IX instead, John, of course, from Prince John, Robin Hood fame, and Richard – well, we all know what happened to Richard III! It surprises me as she was something of a historian – it is from her that I get my love of history.

I wonder, when will we see the next generation?

well… the news is in. and I guess I know now where I’m heading to in September: Leicester University. I had applied to Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, which is a mature women’s only college, and one I was very impressed with. I will admit to being a tad disappointed that they didn’t make me an offer, but I’m not entirely surprised: I didn’t acquit myself terribly well in the exam, I think, although I did my best at the time I panicked a little and made some poor choices, and I burst into tears in one of the interviews: never a good thing, I know, but I was talking about the effect of Dad’s death and it just grabbed me, unexpectedly. I was absolutely mortified, but they were very kind. The college itself has a very supportive atmosphere and if I can, I would love to go there as a postgrad, to do my Masters, but we’ll see. That’s a fair way off, and I still have to get at least a 2:1 for that!

In some ways I’m relieved, though. I was concerned about keeping up with all the work and the other students: I do feel I can relax more at Leicester. Still, I feel fairly confident that I can finish this course and get the required distinctions, so come October, we should be in a new home and I’ll be starting at a new uni. its all exciting and nervewracking and there’s so much to sort out. I just hope I can do it all.

We’re currently in Ludlow for Easter, visiting with Mum. She’s in the middle of having the house redecorated so its not as quiet as we would normally expect, but the weather is sooo delightful, its quiet in the garden, except for the noisy sheep in the field next door! still, it makes a change from listening to loud music and the thump of a football we usually get. I went bike riding yesterday on Mum’s bike with Michiel, and we’re investigating the uninvestigated Roman Villa I stumbled across in my research into Wroxeter – no digging, but we are going to look at the site and maybe fieldwalk it, if we can get permission from the Landowner. We went for drinks with one of Mum’s friends last night, who is just as interested in the Roman villa as we are, and she introduced me to Pimms and Lemonade. YUM!

View (and the noisy sheep) over the back of the Hedge at the end of Mum's garden....

Tomorrow we’re heading to my Grandmother’s house to help pack stuff up and clear it out – it and the contents are being sold, as she’ll never go back to living on her own. Sunday the same Grandmother is coming here for lunch, and I’ll probably go to church with Mum – its Easter Sunday, and it feels right to do that. Monday we’re driving across to my other Grandmother, and Tuesday, we’re probably going to Acton Scott to have a look round there. Then Wednesday, home again, and back to work – although I’ll be taking Friday morning off to watch history being made… of course!

In terms of college work: I was working on my Independent Research Project before I came down here (having a break this week), which is researching the Disabled in Ancient Greece. Its interesting but I’ve already written too much and am half way through, so when I return I have to whittle it down and clean it up some. I’ve also got to do a presentation to the class on this, so that should be fun too, and a diary for the project, as well as a bunch of other paperwork that has to be submitted as part of the whole course.

Also to do: an essay on the differences between wet and dry preservation in the Mesolithic Period, and revision for two exams: one on the New Kingdom of Egypt (a choice of three questions, either Hatshepsut/Thutmosis III, Akhenaten and the Amarna period or Rameses II) and one on the fall of the Roman Republic (a choice of various figures from that period, including Julius Caesar). We’ve also got a group presentation on the Jugarthine War, me and two others – although the rest of the class is also doing presentations, their subject are different. We’re getting towards the end of the course now, starting AngloSaxon England next in Archaeology, Augustus in Ancient History, and the Bronze Age Collapse in Near Eastern Archaeology. All are fairly short modules and, certainly the last two are examination assessed, although I’m not sure about the AngloSaxon England one. Still a lot to do. But the end is in sight.

There’s a lot to do with other things too. I have to confirm my uni choices with UCAS, get my student finance sorted, and apply for Disabled Students Allowance. I have to find somewhere to live and sort out a whole bunch of other stuff to do with moving, not least, finding a man with a van.

but for now… the sun is shining, and I think I’m going to go enjoy a bike ride with Michiel. I’ve pictures to post – some posted already, and I’m sure I’ll have more at a later date… :)

* title of blog .. thanks to Robbie Williams, from “Lazy Days

no, you haven’t come to the wrong blog. its okay. its still “Urbania to Stoneheads”, Keth’s page. I just figured it was time I got off my backside and did a new header. Its good, isn’t it? There’s some stuff on the sidebar explaining it all. Been meaning to do it for absolutely ages (specifically the historical one above), but I finally cleared a couple hours tonight and did it. A fun little exercise – a little downtime from the frustrations of studying! I’ve also updated the “Why stoneheads?” page a bit – put a new pic up of Michiel and myself. Will try to post a better facial pic of me at some point too – but they’re on the other puter.

and since its now 2.30am and I need to go to Manchester Uni library tomorrow to do some research.. that’s all you’re getting for now! Will do a proper update in a few days though – heading down to Mum’s for Easter on Wednesday. The break will do us both good – but in the meantime, I’m trying to get as much work done as possible – with two exams scheduled for 16th and 19th May, and an essay due in on 17th May, as well as my independent research project to do… I can’t hang around!

I’ve been taking antibiotics for the last few days, antibiotics that have the unfortunate side effect of interfering with my liver’s uptake of Metformin. This is the medication that smooths out my blood sugar and helps to overcome the problems caused by my diabetes. What’s becoming clear over the last few days is just how much the metformin does – in the last six months or so (since I started college, really), I’ve been taking my body for granted again, taking the meds, and, although I was tracking my blood sugar, it didn’t seem to be rising and falling, regardless of what I ate, and I started to think … “hmmm. maybe I’m not diabetic after all”.

The last few days have truly put paid to that idea. I’ve been much more sensitive to my blood sugar, more than I ever was before I started metformin, and its really been a lesson for me. In a way, its a shame that I was started on metformin as soon as I was diagnosed: I wonder if I had had time with the blood sugar monitor, tracking my body’s true responsiveness to the food I eat, rather than the responsiveness dulled by the metformin, whether the lessons would have been learned better. As it is, I can’t stop taking the metformin just to learn those lessons – the drug stays in your body, much like anti-depressants, the person taking them needs to be weaned off them.

Tomorrow I’m off to my Mum’s: we’re heading to the interview I have at the last university to decide on the Tuesday and Wednesday (staying there overnight). I’m nervous about it as I have tests and its a big deal, but we’ll see what’s what. I may decide I don’t like it and I feel more comfortable at Leicester. We’ll see. Either way, tomorrow is a big day for another reason: 41 years ago, Mum and Dad got married. Its going to be a tough day for Mum, so I’m glad I’m spending the day with her. Times like this.. family is king. And I still miss my Dad. So much.

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