A Little Lull in the Working Week

Study and work and family clamour devours time.

The MSc mid-term intellectual stupor knocked me flat the last couple of weeks.

I suppose I had to come down from the learning high I was on. It was unrealistic and unsustainable. And anyway it made me look and sound like a demented Uni-puppy – all undiscerning wagging tail and floor-peeing excitement.

I was high. I was a bit low. Now I’m finding the right level. A level that’s still remarkably high – because this course has ignited brain cells that I didn’t know I had and I am hearing such good things about myself and my performance that I am getting addicted to the crack-like praise. All good from a Strathclyde Uni finance perspective – a few more students like me and they’ll fill money-spinning MSc courses from now til eternity.

I’m off work today. Annual leave.

Work pales in comparison to university learning. But it pays the fees so…

I’ve a few GTCS fitness to practice cases to conduct. An area of law that’s unfamiliar to me and is tying my reluctant brain in knots as I attempt rapid immersion in caselaw and rules. Sure, the toolkit of advocacy – the examination-in-chief and cross-examination; the strategic thinking required to get the best from witnesses and exploit the flaws in ‘the case against’; the narrative ‘paint-a-picture’ building a hoped for success; the mitigations and submissions – it’s the same in any forum. But I need to know the law. I need to know how firm the ground I walk on is – legally speaking. What precedent has been set that defines ‘fitness’ – and what is the degree of difference required for mere ‘impairment to fitness’. Plus I need to know each case inside out. The quirks of witnesses. The weaknesses. The strengths. The personalities. The map of evidence. Ugh. But also mmmm.

On the home front dynamics shift again with the imminent departure of Lewis the lad. His new job is ‘fantastic Mum’. He has genuinely found his niche. He’s been in London for training (hilarious just how entrancing the Big City is when you’re 19 – but that’s another story) – staying in decent hotels; dining on his own; making his own way on trains and buses and taxis and planes; clearly shining on the courses – and is learning corporate-speak and developing a desire to ladder climb. At the same time he’s happy to rave it up in the Sub Club or at the Arches in Glasgow – the siren call of a DJ twisting and writhing and mixing and he’s up there, ge’in it laldy.

Meg is loving Glasgow Uni and her course. Her essay writing is impressively mature. She’s excited about literature and language. And she’s found a great bar/waitressing job in a funky rock pub that is a Glasgow Institution – Maggie May’s. Her flatshare in Glasgow’s Maryhill is enviously stylish – the old ex-Corporation tenement flat exterior contrasts against the architect-designed very clever interior. The downside? That it takes a bit of heating – and fuel prices are astronomical here now (this tall too-big house is costing us £314 per month in electricity and gas – the coal is on order at £22 per bag, each bag lasting 3 days in hard winter). However she’s young and has plenty of jumpers and woolies…

The frost is not shifting today. The silver birch – a thin, 60ft etiolated beast, close by the back of this house – is shedding yellow and burnished copper and swaying very gently in the chilled air. The river’s soft breath exhaled mist upon mist this morning until the layers were like flattened white sheets caught in a billowing updraft – they began, white and obliterating at the valley’s hollow and gradually emerged, thin and see-through, eventually being burned off by this sharpest, whitest, coldest of suns.

I love this time of year. The rowan berries like blood beads; the rosehips bursting and spilling; the roads coated with a thick dense leaf-fall; and the robins who seem to hide all year, saving their colour for now. Even the badgers seem more vigorous and their white snout stripes more vivid.

One of the garden badgers chased Stan, our idiot fighter cat, last night. The sight of this ginger and white neutered Tom-who-thinks-he’s-a-tiger facing up to the powerful rug of black and grey and white made us all squeal. But Stan ran and lived to fight another day.

It’s snowing in Glasgow. By tonight this village will be white. It will glitter in the phosphorescent light of these old street lamps.

Tomorrow I’ll be in a meeting in one of the Lothians attempting to mediate a battle between colleagues.

Today I’m going to bake and make a feast.

And in between bakings I am going to visit you all – read and get up to date with all your comings and goings and doings…

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11 thoughts on “A Little Lull in the Working Week

  1. Hi Helen. Thanks. Just caught up with your last post – I have more to read and enjoy. The frost hasn't let up. And the promised snow has been frozen in a too-cold sky so the village is not the pretty place I hoped for. It'll be dusted in the wee sma' hours – or so the BBC said. Hope all well with you and Leo. Yx

  2. Aw dear Doris. I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. Your touching post about your Dad's 81st birthday pulled me up short earlier this year. You touched on memories of your Dad as a strong and independent man – a decent, caring man who sounds like he was very much loved and also, latterly, supported by a close community. I'm thinking of you. Yvonne x

  3. I loved this post, Yvbvonne – so full of justifiable satisfaction and pleasure in your academic life and even the challenges of work. And your pride in your children's achievements is almost palpable. Then the change in tone and pace to that lyrical description of the frost – gorgeous!

  4. Thanks Perpetua. 🙂 You are right though – I hadn't thought of the post as an expression of happiness/pride/contentment/pleasure – but it was and I am, all of those things! Yx

  5. Yvonne so lovely to hear your news. You make me want to sit back in satisfaction and say humph! You are so engaged, so attuned – I feel quite muddled here in my lowly writer's cardigans and socks. It is muddy and rainy here, but full steam ahead with words, it's a good stretch here too. Not very engaged or attuned at all – I seem to be running from everybody. But winter does this to me. When the skiing starts I'll get sociable. Do you get down to Londontown ever? I've been passing through a wee bit xxcat

  6. OOoooooo! I can 'do' Londontown!! Just you say when you're passing through and I'll see what I can do. 🙂
    I've tons to say about Pelt btw – for starters: it was fucking fantastic!! I've been thinking about posting a review… all good!
    On the strength of Pelt you've got nowt to worry about – you're plenty 'attuned' and 'engaged' – enough for a whole library of writers.
    Mind you I know what you mean about winter rain and mud. It seems to seep into your very soul. Bring on the frost though and I'm singing (no skiing for me!).
    Yxx

  7. Enjoyed reading your news so much Yvonne as I was wondering how you were getting on and what your blog reflects so strongly I think is how our lives and the lives of our close ones change all the time. Since I've been reading your blog over the last two and a half years you have charted your highs and lows and the highs and lows of your family so that it was lovely to read that you have all reached a good place at the moment. Long may it last.

    And like Perpetua I loved the frost description. Exquisite. More please.

    I am not writing my blog at the moment as I'm concentrating on completing my second novel which has to be with the publishers in January. I'm grappling with four characters who sometimes speak to me clearly and sometimes fade. And my first novel is out on Kindle so I've been hearing from readers and that has been exciting.

    Have a great weekend of baking and feasting. xx

  8. Hello you. Have just emailed you.
    Hard to believe I've been at this blog thing for so long! But I am so glad I started it – I really have met such wonderful people – people I otherwise would never have met (and it's given me an idea for another post).
    I've missed your blog – but understand the reason (and it's a good one!).
    I've some poems floating about my head – mainly based on the more lyrical passages (as above) – so I'm going to work on them. I need to get a 5000 wd essay and a 2000 wd reflective journal for the MSc out of the way – though, before them comes a number of legal documents and 2 legal submissions for the GTCS case… Sometimes I want to be younger, with more energy and for there to be more hours in the day!! Love to you, Yx

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