The house is quieting again.
Or maybe that should be: I am quieting again.
The drug-trauma took its toll on us all.
Despite it all, I am proud of my boy and how he has recovered and rebuilt.
Despite it all I am still a bit shaky.
The anxiety – inexplicable and unattached to any one specific thing – is lessening but is still there. It’ll go. I know it will.
In the interim I diving deep into the MSc. I now have ‘assignment 3’ behind me – and am looking forward to my Monday evenings at University. My grades have surprised me: they are good. The class is intimate, still a little stilted but promising. The building we meet in is painful ex-GPO (General Post Office) – and a blast from the 60s brutalist past. The lift I exit on the 7th floor is right beside a gents toilet – and the entire corridor reeks of piss and inadequate dettol.
So far, so much the same as the last few Uni-times around.
The difference? Ahhhh. The difference.
University in 2013 is profoundly different. And I am continually, overwhelmingly astonished and delighted and made to feel like some ancient relic by the changes.
It is entirely related to technology – but also to legal and societal change. In 1985 I hand wrote or typed (on an ancient ex-office 1960s cast iron monstrosity) my essays the topics of which I had ‘researched’ using the hard copy (there was no other type of ‘copy’) available (or not) in the library or reading rooms. ‘Research’ was slow, pain-staking work. The University electronic database of materials was in its infancy. It was slow. Often unreliable. Micro-fiche records were often the default. Or you’d ask one of the librarians for help. Physical Lecture attendance was advisable – or you’d simply miss too much. My name was always emblazoned on essay front covers. In 1989 I managed to buy an Amstrad word processor which made my written work tidier but required some MS-dos knowledge and a hammer for the printer.
By 1991 I had a Tiny computer. Slow whirring – really a sophisticated word processor. There was no www. Research was still slow. Access to articles or to books was on a first-come first-served basis. Things hadn’t much changed by 1995.
Now. Now! Ah.
I login remotely to the University ‘MyPlace’. I access the Library. I login and have 24 hour electronic access to books; international articles; Journals; presentations; PhD theses and MSc dissertations. I search Google and return thousands of relevant high quality articles I can use. I can search specialist sites such as Westlaw or LexisNexis or IDS – and have every relevant bit of caselaw or legal article you could imagine. Lecturers – leaders in their fields – are beamed into my class from Geneva; from Harvard – from anywhere there is a computer link and webcam. I write on a neat powerful laptop in the comfort of my own home and submit work electronically, identified only by my matriculation number.
The younger students – they understandably take it all for granted. I sit wide-eyed and open-mouthed and am genuinely tickled by this brave new world – and they don’t bat an eyelid.
I feel my age. I have known (intellectually) that the world had changed by virtue of technology. But I don’t think I had truly internalised the change in this stark and personal way. Our social interactions; the way in which we learn; the sheer ease of access to knowledge and information – it is all astonishing to me. And I love it.
Strathclyde University in 2013 is a good place to be.