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…