Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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The Fenny Tribe
As mentioned in my last (or last but one), on Tuesday I was in Cambridge for a PhD examination. The examination itself passed without incident, and altogether it was a very pleasant trip - not least in the chance it gave me to hang out with fjm and chilperic in London the night before, and with my friends Clementine and Yan in Cambridge in the morning. I think I mentioned that the Espresso Library cafe was next door to the place I used to work?


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There it is: Wellington House, East Road. Yes, I know, it's a bit blurry - I'm going to need to buy a new camera one of these days - but you're really not missing much. I see that it's no longer the happy home of the Geographic Information Systems company for which I used to work, whose name I'm avoiding not from any misplaced sense of discretion but because I've actually forgotten it, though I know they were ultimately owned by McDonnell Douglas if you cared to trace these things to their source. My proudest accomplishment there was a manual for their Reinforced Concrete Detailing software: I still have a copy of that, somewhere.

How foolish I was in 1988! I'd just got an MSc in Computing and a PhD in English, and I was following my then-partner to Cambridge, where they were working on Ben Jonson's masques under Anne Barton. The world was, in theory, relatively oyster shaped. But, deciding to get a job that combined my degrees, I ended up a technical author - which indeed used both, but at such a minimal level that I was very soon plunged into a boredom too deep for tears. It was only by the merest stroke of luck that having realised my mistake I managed to claw my way back into academia after all of... oh, eighteen months. It felt much longer.

On the train from London to Cambridge on Tuesday morning I dozed briefly, and dreamed that I had just woken at my desk in East Road, only to find, Bobby Ewing style, that the last 26 years had been a dream. All of the bad things that have happened to me or that I have made happen to myself or others - pouf! Also, I was still in my mid-20s. On the other hand, my children were dream children, I had published no novels, I had had no academic life. And transition was just a pipe dream.

The fact that my reaction in my dream was one of great disappointment pleases my waking self, because I suppose it shows that, taking one thing with another, my account is in credit, for all that I have made some large withdrawals to pay off Grief, and have set up a standing order with Regret.

1988?

I was still being a primary school deputy head SEN/co at that point! :o)

I felt old on Tuesday morning talking to Clementine. I mentioned Edith Cresson, who'd been the French PM a while ago - maybe fifteen years? "Oh yes," replied Clementine, "but it was longer ago than that. She was Prime Minister before I was born."

Data point: Clementine is in her mid-twenties.

You're younger than me, if I recall correctly............

I'm coeaval with sexual intercourse, if you believe Philip Larkin.

I'm not sure I'd believe anything suggested by Philip Larkin but fifty is certainly younger than wot I am! :o)

In 1988, I was still at my first stint at Stanford, cataloging 17th-century economic pamphlets, mostly in Dutch. The following year we lost our grant renewal, finding on requesting why that the reviews showed that the reviewers hadn't read the proposal.

I see that you worked in the Bauhaus. No, don't bother to get a new camera to take pictures of things like that.

Agreed about the building. Tinted windows, too - lest we become besotted with the idea of an outside world with sunshine in it.

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Still, I'm proud of being one of few to refuse a place in the workforce at JvM, the Agency...

I actually tried to get into marketing (for a chocolate factory) while I was still in York, a career for which I was even less well suited than for technical writing.

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1988 is a haze of full time teaching, still writing, child raising.

Regret, though, is an old, familiar companion, with occasional drive-bys from the Fairy of Humiliating Insights.

Oh yes, the Fairy of Humiliating Insights is a regular house guest!

Lessee -- in 1988, I was an undergraduate, doing the usual undergraduate things. Highlight of the year was starting to date janni.

---L.

Well, that's a very cool highlight.

The fact that my reaction in my dream was one of great disappointment pleases my waking self, because I suppose it shows that, taking one thing with another, my account is in credit, for all that I have made some large withdrawals to pay off Grief, and have set up a standing order with Regret.

Oh, life. <3

My brain always has this microsecond blip when you refer to going to Cambridge. Come back to otherCambridge too someday. :)

I want to!

I was in London in the summer of 1988, now that I think about it, doing an internship at the India Office Library and Records. I believe my friend Melanie and I went to Cambridge for the day.

I probably saw you through the tinted glass of my office window, frolicking.

1988 was one of the Disaster Years. The uni mucked up my PhD examination and there were no academic jobs anywhere. My father died. My fantasy novel that the big publisher had been so enthusiastic about didn't reach contract stage. I had glandular fever. I gave up everything and became a public servant.

Things aren't any easier now, but at least I'm sticking to the work I enjoy.

God, that's a true Disaster Year. (Sorry for the slow reply - I've been in an internet-less house the last couple of days.)

I'm hoping for multiple lifetimes to redeem this one, for 1988 was merely the first Disaster Year! When I explained to my new supervisor about my tendency ti bad luck, he didn't believe in bad luck. Now he totally gets that it's not lack of work or intelligence, but that doors actually shut in my face. This is the year it all began... And you've seen it in action, come to think of it!

Mind you, I have friends who've had much worse years. So much of this is relative. And I've got friends who've had much less bad in their years and in their lives, but who've been hurt far more by it. Swings and roundabouts, I suspect.

And you've seen it in action, come to think of it!

Yes, not once but twice!

May the third time be the charm ie make the pattern stop.

1988 was probably my most enjoyable year at school. I spent as much of it as possible in the school library, which had a wonderful collection of 1940s-1970s-ish children's literature.

Ah, you're so young!

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