Wednesday, 9 January 2013

I made it through the wilderness.....!

Well I think I have finally done it. Hopefully I think I have found the light at the end of the tunnel. Or if not the light, the cats eyes on the path that leads to the light at the end of the tunnel!

The last few weeks and months have been very tough. I have had a lot of personal and family stuff going on that I have been juggling as well as the ongoing dissertation. For the last few weeks in particular I have been finding the writing of my dissertation very difficult. The main reason was because I had hit a wall, and got completely lost with what I was writing.

I can only describe it as similar to being trapped in quick sand and the more you struggle, fight and try to get out the quicker you sink and the worse your situation gets. The more I tried to write the more I got lost and overwhelmed with theory and writers block. I got more and more confused. Then the self-doubt started to arrive, and the "I can't do this" and the "I am so going to fail" and finally came avoidance. It was awful and I felt as miserable as hell. I wanted to enjoy doing my study, and this was not enjoyable! Then I decided to do something about it and fight back. However this was easier said than done. I couldn't figure out what to do to put it right, to get back on track. I found myself in a sort of dissertation wilderness.

I spent days going through my notes, re-reading chapters and even a bit of brainstorming. Nothing was making any sense or showed any sign of being a way forward. Then I asked for some support and help from my lovely friend Liz. She was on my MA course and had had to have an extension for her dissertation too due to health and personal problems so she could totally relate. She is also an absolute genius with cultural memory theory so I thought and hoped she would be able to help straighten out my confused brain! As I had been there for her while she was doing hers, she didn't hesitate to help me and was really supportive. We had a great chat and she gave me a few suggestions and helped me unravel some of my thoughts about what I was writing and where it could be taken. She even talked through a few examples of structure and content. I felt so much more positive after talking to her. I am very grateful to her.

However, despite this positive chat I still didn't have a way forward. I had a much stronger idea on what to do when I got there, but it was still a bit of a grey area on how to get there! While I continued to wander this metaphorical wilderness, I remembered we had been advised to keep a dissertation diary to record every stage of the process, thoughts, decisions, tutorials etc. I decided to have a read through mine as I had kept it going and regularly wrote in, but hardly ever looked back on previous entries. This was a crucial turning point. As I had filled it in regularly, made notes immediately after tutorials, comments on chapters I had read etc, it was actually incredibly useful. I was reminded of a lot of decisions I had made and why, as well as reminding myself on where I wanted to take my dissertation. I even had a chapter plan! Very soon I realised what I had to do.

Sometimes when your so involved and entrenched in something you can't see where you are going, and that's what happened to me. I realised through reading the diary that in order to move forward I had to take a step back. I had to go back to basics and remind myself of all the foundation stuff that I do know but couldn't recall. Very quickly I had a plan of action. Despite being up against it time wise I knew I needed to take a few days to retrace my steps. So I am returning to the key texts. I am setting out the two different theories that I am looking at, going back over collective memory, sites of memory, agents of memory etc etc. Then when I have reminded myself of these foundations I can then build the complex stuff on top. This will stop me from being confused and from losing my way. In fact its such an obvious solution I don't know why I didn't see it before! I now have a plan of action, a way forward and more importantly a good idea on how I am going to do it. Hopefully I will be able to bring you a more positive progress update soon.

For now I have made it through the wilderness, somehow I made it through.........!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

30 Years of CITV!

On the 3rd January 1983 CITV hit British television screens for the first time hosted by Matthew Kelly in a strange spaceship set. This means this week it is celebrating 30 years! To mark the occasion this weekend Freeview channel CITV have been hosting an Old Skool Weekend where they have screened a variety of classic children's shows from the last 30 years. These have included Dangermouse, Count Duckula, Button Moon, Funhouse, Knightmare, Press Gang, Children's Ward, Woof, Puddle Lane, How 2, The Tomorrow People and Fraggle Rock! I have been watching quite a lot of these, and have loved reliving my childhood and childhood memories.

 It did make me feel slightly old and some of the shows like Woof! and Press Gang looked so dated. It really demonstrates how the quality of filming has improved, as well as reminding how quickly fashion dates!

The cartoons however still seemed to have their charm, and it was lovely to see hand drawn cartoons again instead of the computer generated digital cartoons children get shown today. Don't get me wrong I think some of the modern cartoons are very good and well done, but there is just something beautiful about the hand drawn cartoons of my childhood. As I was watching them I also noticed a lot of double-entendre in the humour which I had never noticed as a child. I do wonder if its just my now adult brain taking phrases and comments the wrong way, or whether the cartoonist and writers really did mean these shows to have moments which adults would find amusing too? There are also a lot of details especially in the backgrounds of Dangermouse which would surely be lost on a child but yet appreciated by the parents who were watching with their kids. I would even go as far as to say some of these programmes are wasted on kids! Tee hee!

Those of you who know me well, will remember I did my undergraduate dissertation on old children's television programmes, looking in particular at nostalgia and childhood. I chose The Clangers, Bagpuss, Rainbow and Dangermouse as my four examples to look at and to apply the various theories to. It was very enjoyable getting to watch these old shows and some of the theories were quite fascinating. However I do still feel it was a bit light for a dissertation topic, yet then again as I went on to work in museums with social history and popular culture as my specialist areas, not to mention working in a toy museum and then at another museum producing a childhood and toys exhibition, my dissertation did prove helpful! What did come through loud and clear when I was doing this study was the level of sentiment and importance adults still put on their childhood and programmes they watched, whatever generation they were and however good or bad their childhoods had actually been. They even still remembered the theme tunes word for word. But then again I surprised myself with how many I knew and could remember this weekend! There are some you just never forget like "He's the greatest, He's Fantastic, Wherever there is danger he'll be there"... or "Up above the streets and houses, Rainbow climbing high" and "In the heart of Transylvan-ia, In the Vampire Hall of Fame-yeah, There's not a vampire zanier than, Duckula!". It's amazing how much love we have for these sort of things!

I had lots of television shows that I liked as a child and quite a few of them have been on this weekend. My absolute favourites were Dangermouse, Count Duckula and Fraggle Rock. I also had a thing for Raggy Dolls and I can remember really enjoying The Tomorrow People but that could be because I had a crush on Kristian Schmid (Todd from Neighbours) who starred in it! I also remember enjoying others such as Postman Pat, Paddington and embarrassingly My Little Pony and Carebears!! Oh dear! Although my childhood was not always the happiest or easiest, and school life which I enjoyed and excelled at was also punctuated with bullying, I can still look back on certain things in my childhood with love and sentiment. These programmes are one of those things.

This weekend has been very enjoyable reliving my childhood. I also found myself remembering some of the innocence and naivety that I had as a child, and the thoughts I use to have when watching some of these shows. The way I use to look at the world or understand what was going on around me is so totally different to now. I look back on that time now with adult understanding, as well as the benefit of hindsight (as I am sure everyone does), and its easy to forget that you didn't always see things the same.  The hopes I had for the future seem so childish now and so naive! I really didn't have a clue! I also remember thinking my life would be so together by the time I was 30. I envisaged I would be married, with children of my own, in my own home with a job I enjoyed. How was I to know that by the time I was 30 I wouldn't have achieved any of this! Plus 30 seemed so old! But I am not going to get bogged down in the things that didn't work out as my childhood-self expected. Instead I am going to enjoy the rest of the 30 years celebrations and the television programmes I loved as a child! Happy 30th Birthday CITV!

Better be off, Fraggle Rock starts soon!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Hot Cross Buns in January!!

Today I went food shopping at our new local (sort of) Morrisons. Nothing special there, as we have been a few times now and its very nice. However I was a little bit surprised when in the Bakery section I found Hot Cross Buns! Now despite appearances I am not a cake eater. However Hot Cross Buns without disgusting Peel are a different story completely. I love them. In fact I have been know to make myself sick of them by Easter! Tee hee! So you can imagine when I found them I was pretty excited as they looked really nice. It was only as I was putting them in my trolley that my brain reminded me it was the 3rd. Of JANUARY!! We still have a few foods things left over from Christmas to be eaten up yet Hot Cross Buns are on sale! I couldn't believe it!

Now I know that supermarkets have to order their stock in advance and plan when various seasonal decorations and posters are going to be put up in their stores. I also appreciate that now Christmas and New Year is over they need to refill their seasonal sections with something. However Easter stuff..... in January! Tesco were even worst as Easter chocolates started to appear on their shelves the day after Boxing Day! The worst offender though was a non-food store who during the week BEFORE Christmas were taking down all their Christmas stuff to put up their "barbecue and gardening" stuff! Hello! Did I miss something? Okay some people will soon be thinking about their gardens and putting in bulbs etc, but barbecues? Patio furniture? Picnic sets? Who thinks about this stuff at Christmas? Hell, in Britain we will be lucky if we need to start thinking about this stuff in May and June!

I accept supermarkets need to get stock in and on the shelves in advance of when they are needed. It would be impossible to have everyone descend on the shop on the same day of the year to get the same items. Plus in these skint times people might need to spread the cost over a few weeks. Christmas is an example of this. However what is the point of having these items on sale months in advance, if they have use by dates which run out long before the event itself? Clearly they are expecting everyone to buy the stuff months in advance, eat the lot and have to buy more. Perhaps even using "its goes off soon" as an excuse! This makes it nothing more than a marketing scam. They know we are going to buy the stuff, eat it and need to buy more. Its terrible! As a result, I refuse to buy stuff like this out of season. Easter Eggs (if I am buying them for anyone) are bought perhaps a week maybe two maximum in advance. Christmas we don't start buying stuff until after my Dad's birthday in early December. Fireworks we don't buy any more as we don't have a garden and local displays are far superior, likewise the lack of garden makes barbecues and patio furniture unnecessary (although I suppose we could have a couple of chairs on our new balcony with some flowers in pots) and Halloween is not really something we celebrate.

Aside from the obvious consumerism irritation, I also feel its sad as it makes the year go so quickly. We are all looking forward to Christmas, and then while we are still eating our way through selection boxes, tins of Quality Street and endless boxes of Mince Pies and enjoying images of reindeer  penguins and snowmen, BANG its all fluffy chicks, bunny rabbits and Easter Eggs! Even in the summer, I feel dreadfully sorry for school kids in Britain as within days of them breaking up for summer holidays there are Back to School stuff in the shops! New uniforms, pencil cases, folders, school shoes, lunch boxes, etc. Poor kids have only just got use to not going to school on a weekday! Let them have some holiday for flips sake, before you start reminding them they have to go back to school! Then as soon as the kids have gone back to school and sometimes even before that during the August Bank Holiday what do we see fighting for space on the seasonal shelves with the last of the barbecues, picnic sets and new pencil cases? Christmas Cards and wrapping paper! Aaaarrrggghhhh!

Why do we have to have these things so early? Please Mr Tesco, Mrs Morrison, Ms Asda, Mr Sainsburys, Madam Waitrose and all the other supermarkets, can we please be left to enjoy the last days of summer without being reminded that Christmas is on it way? Can we please enjoy the gluttony of Christmas and hang overs of New Year before you blind us with fluffy bright yellow things for Easter? Can we wait until we have some actual "sunshine" and no frost on our car windows before you start tempting us with barbecues and picnic sets? (Although some years that would mean we would never see any barbecue stuff! LOL!). Can the kids actually get some sun on their faces, wear flip flops and shorts and go swimming for a few days before you make them start worrying if they have outgrown their school uniforms or need a new pencil case? Is that possible? Let us enjoy the time of year it is, without worrying about what's coming up in three months time?

I still bought the hot cross buns though!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

I wonder what 2013 will bring.........!

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and an even better New Years Eve!! Hopefully you will have all recovered from your exploits by now and settling back into the "normal" routine. I celebrated New Year with my friend and many other lovely friends including and It was a great evening and a nice way to see out the old year and welcome in the new.

As is tradition at this time of year people start talking about New Years resolutions and what they are going to attempt to do, or usually give up! The big ones are usually quitting smoking, losing weight and cutting back on alcohol (especially after the indulgences of Christmas and New Year!). Another tradition for this time of year is breaking your resolutions, sometime within hours of making them! I have already met someone who vowed to give up drinking and detox, only to be tucking into a bottle of wine over dinner less than 24 hours later! Bless!

I don't generally make resolutions. I find them pointless and they are never treated seriously and are often made up on a whim, usually when you are put on the spot by someone asking you what your New Years resolution is going to be! However this is not to say I don't see New Year as an opportunity for a fresh start, new beginnings, clean slate, etc. In fact I think one of the best things about January is that is does feel like a fresh start (lets face it, January has nothing else going for it. The weather is rubbish, everyone is skint and everything seems dull after the colour of Christmas). So instead of making resolutions, I like to set myself aims for 2013. These are specific things I want to achieve. Not empty wishes on a superstition hoping that someone else is going to do all the work and you magically get what you want, but real targets that I want to work towards. Obviously some things do have an element of luck, such as finding a job; you can do the best application and best interview, but its luck as to whether you get the job or not.

So my aims for 2013 are:

1. Find paid employment in something I enjoy doing (museums, research, craft, First World War Centenary etc).
2. Continue to fight my eating disorder and make some positive moves forward.
3. Improve my health, and ideally as a direct result lose some weight.
4. Finish my MA dissertation and therefore complete my Masters!
5. Make more time to do things I enjoy and find relaxing such as reading, craft and writing.
6. Improve my sleeping habits. More sleep is urgently needed and a better routine would help matters greatly.
7. Continue ticking more things off my to do list (Museums, galleries, places, shows, etc).
8. Find out what things make me happy and do more of them, while moving away from the stuff and people who make me unhappy.
9. Spend more time with people who genuinely like me and care about me who want to spend time with me and less time spent on people who are selfish, self-serving and two faced. I don't want to be the "useful" or "convenient" friend any more. I believe when you care about someone it works both ways. You don't "use" people.
10. Be myself and be comfortable with who I am. If someone doesn't like it, tough!

So thats 10 aims for 2013. Lets see how I get on. I wonder what 2013  will bring................