Monday, 30 December 2013


Thanks to everyone who comes over to read this. The blog has had 7,000 page views since I started it two and a half years ago. Hopefully we are now in the end phase of this one as I start to write the Leonard Cohen dissertation in earnest.

Then its on to the next phase of my life plan. I'm 62 and there's lots to do.

Happy 2014!!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

This will NOT change my image

TSH's daughter has had a baby boy. So I am married to a granddad. And they have suggested I be called Granny T. I am thrilled to be accepted and included. But I am not old enough (well, OK, maybe I'm old enough). But I'm not mature or sober or wise. And I'll still paint my nails and angst about my hair and clothes.

I am looking forward to hearing the language development in a real child instead of a text book. But I need to focus on Leonard. I'm re-writing my analysis of Marianne at the moment.

And I cannot (will not?) ever ever knit.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Always at the back of my mind

So we've shopped and cooked and served and eaten and cleared away and washed up and tidied. We've enjoyed the last few days whilst eating and drinking a lot and managing very little exercise.

And all the time at the back of my mind there's Cohen's keywords. What do they tell me? Do I need more analysis or am I nearly there? I've done some work on 'he' and 'his', which are key in his songs. There is a third party in there in a way which doesn't occur in my comparison lyrics. Sometimes its 'the other man' and sometimes a controlling being and sometimes he conflates the two. On close examination, these lyrics are even more complex than I thought they were.

Merry Christmas, everybody!!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Rushing around

We've been to visit TSH's mother (age 94 and still in very good physical and mental health) and his daughter.  This meant 500 miles of driving and a number of late (for us, anyway) nights and early mornings. It will be just us plus a visitor for drinks on Christmas Day itself.

Old Faithful took the hair discussion very well and we now have a new plan for 'identical every time'.

I haven't even written up my notes from the Skype with S. At this time of year Christmas seems to take over even if there are no real plans. But I've decorated the cake - marzipan, icing, icing stars scattered on top and a few white sugar sprinkles.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


I met S by Skype and he gave me some good steers on what needs improving. We have agreed on a strategy whereby I will include some manual analysis, some corpus (computer) analysis and then show that there are linguistic features which can only be detected by one or the other and features which show up in both methods. He says I am on track for where I should be at this time.

Tomorrow I go to see Old Faithful for the Christmas hair-style. I'm still furious about last time, when he cut it far too short. It looks better now than it did during the first week after my last visit. Its not a very private salon, so I need to have a fairly difficult conversation in front of all the other stylists and clients.

I was busy with the Skype, so for the first time TSH is putting the tree up. I've given him a few hints from my experience but he is storming ahead his own way (regular readers will not be surprised) and is then baffled because the final string of lights won't reach the socket.

And I still think I looked old on the screen during the Skype session.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


I spent today preparing for Skype with S next week. I Skyped my sister, as its ages since I used it and was shocked at how old I looked on the screen. I need heavier makeup - I don't want him to think I'm really ancient.

I have three manual analyses (Marianne, Manhattan and Going home), an intro to them and a summary conclusion, timetable, summary of findings so far and a draft table of contents. So I hope he won't think I've been idle.

My conclusion so far is that LC's lyrics are like a conversation which keeps switching topic so that you don't know what its about. But full of metaphor, so that its poetic as well. And that's before you introduce the uplifting music!!

Had a wardrobe clearance and put lots of 'could do better' out for the charity shop.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Nelson Mandela

The sad news today reminded me that I analysed the speech Mandela made on April 20 1964 from the dock at the opening of his trial on charges of sabotage at the Supreme Court of South Africa in Pretoria. I compared it with a speech made by Emmeline Pankhurst and I discovered similarities and differences in the way they addressed their  audiences. Both were clear that their campaigns were taking actions which were against the law of their respective countries. But while Emmeline tried to engage her sympathetic audience at a personal level, Mandela's speech was quite different. He knew that he did not have a sympathetic audience, so he did not try to engage with them. Instead, his remarks, which were very formal and rehearsed, addressed the world, speaking of vision and hope for the future. But he also found time to refer to his 'proudly felt African background’.

He was already a statesman. 

Friday, 29 November 2013

A plan

I've decided to drop the first person narrator as the primary research, as I can't think of a way to do it electronically. So I'll look at keywords, like all the other researchers do. Keywords is a technical term. It means the words used in these lyrics which are more or less often used than in the comparison lyrics. In fact, the word Cohen uses in way which is key compared with the other popular lyrics is 'the'. Now that might not immediately impress, but it tells us he is using a lot of nouns. And closer inspection reveals that he is using 'the' like people do in conversation - 'the pillow', 'the window', so he 'assumes' you are there in the room with him and knows which pillow and window he is talking about. When he says 'the monkey and the plywood violin', the reader expects further explanation, but none comes. So then he is behaving like a poet, who can be mysterious. And he mixes all this up together, and I am beginning to have a technical understanding of the appeal.

Yesterday we went to Llandudno and had a bracing walk on the pier and along the prom. My hair is still not right from Old Faithful's last attempt. It is far too short. I need to talk to him properly next time.

I feel so much better now I am developing a plan.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Is this blog helping?

I sent S a progress report and received general encouragement.

Next, he wants me to start to structure the actual dissertation - write an introduction and set out chapter headings for the rest. I've been working at that all afternoon and managed to produce a few words. But I'm struggling to achieve that lofty academic style. All my career in business was spent writing things that a senior manager might read and could not possibly misunderstand. And now they are expecting me to write in what I think is a fairly obscure, elitist way. I can do it but I'm not at all convinced of the validity. Do I have to talk about our language and Leonard's songs like that?

And then there's this blog. Barely literate, really. And full of syntactically incomplete sound-bites (see, I can do it!).  It gets me into bad habits.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Without the computer

I've started my manual analysis of three lyrics - 'Marianne' from the early period for a personal relationship, 'First we take Manhattan' for a political one and 'Going home' for one where 'leonard' appears. 'Going home' is really quite sinister. There is a controlling voice and an automaton just following orders. 'Marianne' is more ambiguous than I thought. He appears to be dumping her but it then seems she's already left.

Its been very difficult to find time for work for the past few weeks, with all our visitors and then the aftermath of the clearing up. But I really need to get down to it now. The clock is ticking.

Sad week - we went to a funeral for an ex-colleague of TSH - the same age as him and just a bit older than me. So someone's gone forever (and with a holiday booked!), his family are distraught because it was very sudden and we are reminded of our age.

But I still have a forward plan which extends over more than ten years and I intend to add to it.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The mixed bag

Setting up the comparison corpus has produced even more of a mixed bag than I expected. Who knew that the top single in 1969 was Archie's (??) 'Sugar Sugar'. And in 1988 Yazz & The Plastic Population were second with 'The Only Way is Up'. What a comparison for LC!

Old Faithful cut and styled my hair last week. I told him that my hair had been good and I'd liked it throughout the month. So then he did it 'different every time' and I can't do a thing with it. It really does look spectacularly dreadful and I've tried it two different ways the last two days. Or am I just blaming him because I look in the mirror and see 62?

Friday, 15 November 2013

Linguistics and Logistics

Meeting with S went well - I think he'll be very helpful. No rain, so hair stayed in place and no raincoat needed.

I need to set up a comparison corpus of pop lyrics and we decided on the top three lyrics from each year Cohen released an album. That will be a mixed bag!!

Some reading needed and also I need to start with the structure of the dissertation - Table of Contents and Intro.

Meanwhile .... house full of guests and much cooking needed. Brownies and meatballs and cakes and ........

Now they've gone and its a mound of sheets and towels and our own  neglected washing.

Some guests had a new soft toy and insisted on a haiku for it. And there's to be a new addition to the family who will need a haiku. It's like being Poet Laureate - I hope inspiration strikes.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

On site

I'm off to University today for real. A meeting with S to check on my dissertation ideas and hopefully get some useful input.

Black trousers, new black long pile black sweater, bright pink beads and a good hair day.

When we get home, we have house guests for the next few days. Lots of cooking and then laundry.

Monday, 4 November 2013

My research question is firming up

I've discovered that there is an argument between Stubbs and Widdowson about how much detail corpus linguistics can really pick up. Even Stubbs - the corpus linguist - says that you can really only look for the language features you already suspect are there.

So .... suppose I start with the 5 lyrics that mention Cohen or Leonard by name. Analyse them in huge detail. Then look for the same patterns in the whole Cohen corpus. And find that corpus linguistics can't do it with the current state of the software. So my dissertation is formed. And there is so much work for the IT people to do in corpus linguistics. A word count and a concordance is just the tip of the iceberg.

I'm seeing S on Wednesday, so I'll see what he thinks.

I'm making bean stew for tonight's meal and, if I have time, banana bread for when more of our visitors arrive on Thursday. I've never made it before but it'll be fine.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Look at the detail

I am wondering if the situation is that corpus linguistics can't pick up the subtleties of a writer like Cohen and that all I can do is a few basic metrics and then analyse some individual lyrics. Perhaps my findings will be as much about the state of corpus linguistics as they are about Cohen. How can a computer deal with Field Commander Cohen, when the narrator seems to be at least two people having an argument? And maybe there is a third in there somewhere?

Next week we are having a number of house guests for a few days. Bed linen mostly ready. Menu spreadsheet done. First shopping list prepared.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Who is he?

I have started to look at the narrator of the Cohen lyrics. Its certainly all about him, with a lot of 'I'. 'Me' isn't really used as an object, so no-one else gets any control. For example 'let me' or 'love me' is giving someone else orders which all relate to him It's a massive ego trip!! But we know that already. So how do I analyse to show this properly and then write it up in an academic way? What made me think I could do this?

I've started looking back at my BA text books from the OU. I have forgotten more than I remember. Am I too old?

I don't want to go back to S until I have a proper plan. That's the control freak/perfectionist speaking. Its my dissertation and no-one else can interfere. Which is ridiculous.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A different count

I spent today categorising the lyrics as relationship, political, religious, military. There was another category which I called 'I' for imagery but could easily stand for 'incomprehensible'. It wasn't an easy job, as there is a lot of cross-over. I feel as if I'll never get anywhere with any kind of analysis. I know next August (deadline) is a long time away but there's a lot to do.

We still haven't adapted to 'real life' after the holiday, which was a cruise. Someday else making all the decisions and doing all the work. TSH is already planning for future holidays.

Monday, 21 October 2013

What to do

I keep thinking about my Supervisor's suggestion to measure Cohen against other artists. This is not how I envisaged this going. I think there is enough in Cohen's complexity of portrayal to be a study in itself. I don't want to do the usual of counting up words and then reaching conclusions like 'Cohen uses words for parts of the body 3 times as often as Dylan, who uses words for geographical places and features 10 times more than Cohen'. (Note: I made those figures up)  Cohen presents himself as a lover in songs like 'Marianne' and as a (flawed) revolutionary leader in 'Field Commander Cohen'. He is a helpless pawn in 'Tower of Song' and some think he is conversing with his younger self in 'Famous Blue raincoat'. All of this is much more fascinating to me. I need to get S on-side.

Friday, 18 October 2013

More 60 than student

I haven't got back into the swing of things at all. I'm still very tired from the journey back from New York and there are all kind of domestic issues to resolve after so long away.

But I've written to my supervisor (S) about progress so far. He thinks I should compare some Cohen language features with those of other similar artists. Who is like Cohen? He doesn't seem to me to belong to any particular genre. Dylan? Springsteen? Simon and Garfunkel? Adele? No one too cheerful, that's for sure.

Bought two sweaters at M&S. They have a new area called 'casual edit'. which seems to suit me. I bought a black sweater with long haired wool and a red sweater with a window-pane black check edged with (mock?) leather.

Monday, 14 October 2013


Back home. Washing mountain dealt with. Christmas cake in oven.

Account of holiday here

I managed to sort out the data for the dissertation whilst I was away, and I ran a few basic analyses. Its time I got down to things properly but I'm still a bit jet-lagged.

Mediocre news: I got 64 for the assignment about the flash fiction 'Currents' This is equal to my average mark so far, in spite of all the help from the learning advisor.

Good news: I have been assigned a supervisor, its the one I wanted and I think I can work with him.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

A pause in proceedings

This blog is about to be paused for a while for a holiday. If anyone is interested in 'my other blog' - concerned with travel - its at I'll be posting every few days to let people know how we're getting on.

But I can't just ignore the work, as term is starting and supervisors likely to be assigned soon. Everybody else has probably had their holiday and is raring to go (??). So I'll load my laptop with my Cohen lyrics (and  also the albums themselves, which are irrelevant to what I'm doing but we might enjoy a bit of Cohen en route) and some scanned pages from the stylistics textbook and some papers I've downloaded. When there's nothing else going on, I'll be able to keep my hand in.

Back soon.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Work or play?

Last night we went to the Cohen concert at Manchester Arena. I don't like the Arena - its too big and slightly grubby. The stairs are too steep for me without a handrail and there are no handrails. But we had brilliant seats - side-on to the stage in the lower block and on the end so we had a clear view. The performance from Cohen and his singers and instrumentalists was mesmerising - he is now funny rather than dreary. Despite his 79 years, all the energy on stage comes from him and he is still dancing after three hours on stage.

But he's trying to ruin my dissertation. He changes lyrics - 'famous blue raincoat' ended with 'sincerely, a friend' instead of 'sincerely, L. Cohen'. In 'Amen', instead of just distorting his vowels to get 'sober' to rhyme with 'horror', it became 'goddamned' horror. Is he not thinking of the linguists out here?

We go on holiday soon and its wardrobe planning day. I'm going to try all my best outfits on.

Friday, 30 August 2013


Cohen is using the first person singular more than the second person plural.Can we really conclude that he is interested in himself and not the relationship? I decided to compare my results with the results from FROWN, which is a large(ish) corpus of North American English from the 70s and 80s, to see if his language usage is different from 'the norm'. No conclusions yet. Am I going to need statistics to interpret this? Or will it just be 'obvious'? Even when I was a graduate mathematician in my younger life, I did not 'get' statistics and now I want to avoid them at all costs. Pathetic!!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Studentat60 is 62 today. A slightly depressing thought at first - I'll never be 61 again. Then I realised I'm still healthy and enjoying so many things. And learning. And researching. 62 is fine.

TSH did one of his special photo-montage home-made cards and this time the theme was Leonard Cohen in honour of my dissertation and the arena concert we're going to on Saturday. Lots of pics of LC himself plus a monkey and a violin. And lines from the songs. 'First we'll take Manhattan' (we're visiting New York soon), 'just drink it up' ( the line before that is something like 'is this poisoned?') and 'like a drunk in a midnight choir'. TSH is cooking his special sticky pork tonight.

Yesterday I looked at the Cohen lyrics and discovered that though there's lots of 'I' and 'you', there's hardly any 'we' or 'us'. The pronouns we use tell a lot about us. He is not a natural commitment person. Its the first discovery of my research.

We are starting to plan our wardrobes for the upcoming holiday. We will put our garment rails up at the weekend and make a serious start on coordination.

Friday, 23 August 2013


I've downloaded all the lyrics and gone through each one to make sure the repetitions are there in full. The software wont be able to analyse '....' for a chorus. Then I produced a file of all the lyrics for each album. Then I combined all the albums together. There's a spreadsheet listing each song with its word count. And when I produced the large file with all the lyrics, the word count balanced against the spreadsheet. It seemed like the first achievement. 26,038 words. My corpus.

Regular readers may have detected that I'm much more enthused by this research than I have been by any part of the course so far. That's because I enjoy working things out and analysing them for myself. I'm not really that interested in reading about what other people have done. But I know I'll have to, because this dissertation will have to slot into current academic linguistic thinking. So there will be plenty of boring bits to come.

For the moment I'm on a high.

Friday, 16 August 2013


Thanks for coming over and reading all about it.

We took a day off today and went to Ness gardens, which we think is one of the North West's greatest gardens. It's Liverpool University's Botanical gardens but it also takes itself seriously as a visitor attraction and has some beautiful herbaceous borders, as well as grand views over the River Dee into North Wales. We've never come across it before, but there's a small stone circle, constructed in the last few years, which mimics Stonehenge's alignment with the movement of the stars and the sun.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

No focus

Starting the dissertation is so exciting that I'm finding it difficult to focus. I have downloaded all the lyrics, eliminated the ones not written by Cohen and put them into directories. The next task is to look at how the repetitive parts of each lyric are dealt with and make it consistent throughout. Since this is stylistics, repetitions are important so they'll have to be in in full. Then I need to combine all the lyrics for each album into one plain text file, being careful not to omit anything. This is all essential but not brain work.

I have been given access to Wmatrix, a tool for tagging text with part of speech and semantic field (what the words mean). I am anxious to start playing with this but really this stage is about six months away. I'm like a kid in a sweet shop - I've already run 'Suzanne' through it!!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Getting started

I can think of nothing but the lyrics of Cohen songs, which is not helpful when you are trying to sleep. I've started the download, but its very tedious, as all 120 songs have to be downloaded separately and put into the directory for the correct album. Some of them he didn't write, so they are excluded, but I'm including the joint authorship ones. And there are several versions of some of them. This task is going to take some time, and I chose a topic where the data collection is relatively easy.

Yesterday was my annual family party, which went well, but in five consecutive years, in August, we have had unsettled weather, so we were indoors again. Today we have done most of the clearing up but we can eat left-over party food for a while, which is a treat!! TSH made brilliant Scotch eggs - eventually. The first batch weren't boiled properly, so had to be thrown away. So he can make pizza dough, scotch eggs and lots of other excellent things but he can't boil an egg!!

Thursday, 8 August 2013


Sent in my dissertation proposal, which has been accepted. I am going to research the portrayal of the first person narrator in the words of the songs of Leonard Cohen. I am so excited, as these songs are really intriguing poetry.

I'll  be using stylistic analysis as well as computer methods (corpus linguistics).

And we are going to see him perform in three weeks time.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Its as if I'm on a summer holiday

I know lots of other people are on summer holiday, but this year, we will be taking a long holiday in the Autumn. So I need to get the dissertation going. But its been very hot and I feel very listless - I'll give it another couple of days and then try again with the proposal. I need to get ahead so that I have enough material on my laptop to be able to do bits and pieces whilst we are away.

We went to the Tatton flower show and really enjoyed the floral marquee. But we were disappointed with the gardens - fewer entries than we have ever seen before. That must be an effect of the recession - especially for the local authorities who have no money for flower beds any more. But we particularly liked the garden based on the Sheffield steel industry.

I had a phone call this week from a call centre trying to get me to sign up to an OU course. In 8 years of association with the OU, this is the first time this has happened. I suspect they've put the fees up so high that they are short of students. This is a terrible national shame, that such a great institution is struggling for funding. I have had my quarrel with the OU - a major one, and I won't be signing up again - but it has given fantastic opportunity to so many people.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Almost finished

I usually spend a few tinkering, but this analysis of the flash fiction 'Currents'  is pretty much finished. Thanks to the learning advisor, I think my argument is much crisper, whilst leading the reader through it gently. I was making the mistake before of just cramming in as many facts as possible, without realising that it was the structure of my writing which needed work. Well, at least I hope that's the case, but I don't understand how I got through a BA and most of the taught part of an MA without some tutor explaining this to me.

I concluded that its the way the writer blends the omniscient narration with the thoughts and speech of the characters which makes it a strong text. That the reverse order narration ends with relating the story to the reader by making them realise that any day could end badly. That the text is very racist in neglecting to explore the thoughts and emotions of the Filipino characters.

On Saturday we went to a National Theatre screening of Macbeth from the Manchester International Festival with Kenneth Branagh. Superb - I've never seen that many curtain calls before. Macduff was great too.

Friday, 19 July 2013

I seem to be improving

The learning advisor has seen my latest draft and likes it much better. In places, there are even comments like 'fab' and 'great'. What I think it boils down to is that for one of my old-style sentences or paragraphs, I need something before it to explain why I am doing it and something after it to say what it means. This bangs up the word count very quickly. I have been doing way too much analytical work!! But that's the bit I enjoy.

Why did no tutor ever explain this to me before? If I had know this at the start of the MA I might even have got a Distinction!

Thursday, 18 July 2013


So instead of structuring the essay around stylistic features (deviation, parallelism, point of view etc), I've decided to make it more interesting by defining all the technical terms at the start and then arranging it by location, characters and events. This makes more sense because a lot of the stylistic features occur together, emphasising the same point, so this way collects it together and stops a lot of repetition. Its quite a lot of work to rearrange it, but I think the end result will be worth it.

Its hot and uncomfortable here and its difficult to stay motivated, concentrate and get the work done but I want it done in the next few days so that the learning advisor can see it again before I submit.

Went to see Old Faithful yesterday, so my hair is nicely shaped and much cooler. TSH arranged my birthday present - we're going to see Leonard Cohen again. 'Like a bird on a wire ....'

Saturday, 13 July 2013

On with the assignment

Its very difficult to work because the weather is very hot for the UK, but I'm trying my best. I've got comments back from the learning advisor and I'm trying to incorporate them. Because she said my writing style was 'bleached of all personality', I've been trying out a different style - first person instead of third and much more chatty. But she thinks I've gone too far the other way, so I need to rein in a bit. This has been a big blow to my confidence, as I always though I wrote reasonably well. I had a dream that I wrote the essay in a new style and got 58, which is still a pass but a long way short of my normal average.

In previous essays, I think I've been too busy trying to cram in everything I know instead of linking it all in properly and I keep telling myself 'less is more'.

Friday, 5 July 2013

They're still here

Every night we fight the dirt but are just keeping it at bay.

Yesterday was a better day - we went to Chester, walked the wall and browsed the shops. TSH picked out an outfit for me in Chesca. Black and white busy print loose jacket and matching top. Great for a cruise night.

They finished soon after 16:00 so we cleaned our bedroom and moved back in. So we don't have the trek down the (dirty) landing to the en suite bathroom whilst we are sleeping in the spare room. Without permission or discussion, they have taken the family bathroom for storage. Even though TSH has told them to use the garage.

My MA work has stopped.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Its like an invasion

The decorators rubbed down all the woodwork on hall, stairs and landing, so there is now a fine layer of dust in every room of the house. Fortunately we covered up beds and electronics.

They have no concept that they are working in someone's house and space. They were an hour later than usual without telling us - we got up early to be ready. I asked them to put the landing blind in the kitchen and they took it into one of the upstairs rooms instead. One of the rooms I was trying to keep clean. When I pointed out what he had agreed, he just shrugged. 'Does it matter?' Well, yes, or I wouldn't have made an agreement with him. His sidekick put his grubby jacket on our kitchen towel rail on top of our towels, so they all went straight in the wash. Its the total arrogance of their behaviour. And this guy is one of the good ones.

I said to him 'you are very good at what you do. I am very good at what I do. We should respect each other. Its my job to keep this house clean. Please cooperate.'

We went out for the day. Browse round Trafford Centre. Didn't buy anything, as its all geared to the young. Went to see 'Behind the Candelabra' to pass the time. It seemed like the best of a bad bunch on offer. It was OK but not as much fun as I hoped. But I want Liberace's walk-in wardrobe, his cloaks and jackets. And the silver boots.

I don't think I'll get any work done this week if we can't get into our house. And when we do, its all about cleaning.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Hectic weekend

We've spent the weekend clearing up after last week's decorating and battening down the hatches for this week. As there will be two of them and the job is the hall, stairs and landing, we plan to go out as much as possible. Everything is hidden or sheeted, as hsl involves every door and every room. I know I'll be glad when its done.

I managed a couple of hours on my essay about the backward flash fiction 'Currents'. I tend to think stylistics is sometimes a bit obvious but after analysing 'point of view' - ie whose eyes are we looking through?, I came to the conclusion that its incredibly racist. The two Filipino characters don't have names and we never see anything from their point of view even though one drowns and the other loses his brother. Its all about the effect on the others, who seem to be tourists from the USA. I've tried other interpretations but none of them really work. And I hadn't spotted it until I looked at point of view.

We're still not back in our own bedroom because the curtains aren't back from the cleaners. The walls are a mid grey with a linen texture and the feature wall is black and silver wavy stripes. I'm so pleased with it.

Tonight we plan to watch the highlights of Glastonbury - TSH's son and fiancee are there.

Thursday, 27 June 2013


Traumatic week, with BT Openreach in house to sort out BB problem. Total wreck of our office - drawers stacked in hall, all equipment moved, new hole in wall. But I think its now fixed. £50 compensation from TalkTalk. Is it enough?

And now the decorator is in our bedroom and we are camping out in the spare. And my things are all over the house. And I feel invaded - its not good for an OCD.

But I'm working on the new style essay in the first person and with lots of chat. I sent off the first installment to the learning advisor.

Thanks to all those who come over to read this.

Friday, 21 June 2013

On campus

Yesterday I spent a day on campus. I found my way around easier than I expected because I have only been a few times and the layout is really confusing. And I found a cafe that served Earl Grey tea!!

One of the library people took me up to where the English Language books are and I was impressed with the number of computers around. You can use your own USB in them so I need a virus check on it now. Those few hours in the library were worth so much - actually browsing a real book is so much better than the library on-line search.

I expect that to young people all of us oldies look much the same. Well, the same applies the other way. I had a short chat with one young man in a grey T shirt, who sat opposite me (he couldn't help me because he'd never been in the library before. And he seemed to be studying Literature (??)). So I went for more books and then carried on chatting to the young man with the grey T shirt sitting opposite me. Until he looked up as if I was mad. It was a different young man in a grey T shirt. Ooops!!

I learned that although the short story is classically believed to have started in the 19th century, Petronius wrote 'The Widow of Ephesus' - 778 words - in classical Roman times. Its a really funny story about a female who breaks the rules - there are lots of translations online.

I also saw the learning advisor, who was really helpful. My work is so bleached of all personality that it is dry and uninteresting. Also, I do so much analysis that I haven't room to explain why I am doing it and what it means. This is pretty much what the course director said a while ago. So for the next essay I will take the great risk of writing in the first person and trying to make it entertaining. And I promise to waffle more. The learning advisor has offered to read the essay as it goes along and try to help me with its presentation.

My outfit was just right.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Getting ready

Tomorrow I go to the University campus to see the learning advisor and visit the library. I need a map - its not easy to find your way around. I need some indication of what the problems are with my essays and a list of books I want to look at in the library.

I wish I hadn't had to spend so much time on the broadband issues.

I've chosen a pale grey pinafore with a black design on the front. A bright pink/purple top underneath it and chunky silver jewellery.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Still struggling

We have had Talktalk on the premises for most of the afternoon. And the engineer saw the line fault!! But that was after two hours of investigation and elimination. But the referral to BT Openreach will take a while and in the meantime the line is still unreliable.

Oh, and I had to talk to Talktalk call centre to verify it was me even though the engineer was there in our house. When I swore at him - just the once - he threatened to hang up if I was 'unprofessional'. But I'm distraught, not professional. Especially since in the middle of all this all my installed programs vanished. That one was cured with a re-boot but the engineer said 'what did I expect with Vista', which I have run successfully for several years.

I am still sceptical it will ever be resolved.

And I can't log on to the University site. And the line didn't stay up long enough to do this short post in one go. And everything I try to do ends with a failure.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Broadband rubbish

So I'm trying to get back into the course. I have submitted the final short task for stylistics and now I'm starting on the assessment. A stylistic analysis of a piece of flash fiction of less than 300 words. I have read a sample stylistic analysis from the course web-site and I am totally intimidated. The writer (who is our lecturer for this course) refers to dozens of books and journals and knows enough about what is in them to write a few elegant paragraphs explaining the similarities and differences.
Now looking at so many sources on-line is non-trivial. Some of them don't exist electronically and for those that do, my line keeps going down at the moment, so thanks, Talktalk for not helping. And I have spent many hours this week trying to get them to understand how bad the service is. which is difficult when the operators do not speak good English and have no empathy with the position we are in.
I think I may just have to adopt my usual stance of describing a couple of books I can get hold of and ignoring the rest. This is why I will never get a Distinction. I do not have the study skills for this and have been saying so since the start and there is no provision on the course for helping. This kind of study skill was not part of the selection process as far as I know.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Still in holiday mode

So we're back from holiday and there's a washing mountain. And the kitchen has ants in some cupboards. And I have to hand in a task yesterday. And do some work on my assessment. And prepare for seeing the learning advisor next week.

I'm working through the washing and we have put ant powder outside the house, ant baits inside and emptied the cupboards, which is something I could well do without when we are unpacking and settling back in. I now anti-bac everything in the kitchen all the time and we seem to be winning.

Meanwhile TSH is at the bodyshop delivering our car, which  someone ran into just before we went away.

But the holiday - fly to Lisbon and cruise back to Southampton on Silver Cloud - was fantastic. We got a private tour of the Guggenheim when it wasn't open to the public and we visited Utah beach, the Normandy landing site for some of the US divisions. We do such a wide range of activities by cruising and it is definitely NOT all about the evening shows, which we rarely attend. And Old Faithful did a great job on my hair, which looked at least as good as anyone else's without expensive trips to the on-board hairdresser.

Study this afternoon.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

A bit of a disappointment

I got the result for my discourse analysis of the Boundary Mill postcard. 65. Absolutely in line with my average so far and a comfortable Merit level (60-69). But I tried so hard to do better. There is something lacking in my essays which I don't seem able to correct. Maybe the learning advisor can help when I see her in a couple of weeks time. I intend to go to campus for a whole day and also spend some time in the library. Maybe what I am lacking as a distance learner is constant hands-on access to a real-life library and current journals.

But this course is not my whole life. I have a serious retirement to organise and live. And a wardrobe to plan and buy.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Stylistics assessment

The question for the assessment has now been posted. Very straight-forward - a choice of 4 texts for stylistic analysis. I have chosen the flash fiction - a complete short story in 295 words. And I have to write 5,000 words about the language choices and effects. Am I making it difficult for myself? But I don't fancy any of the others and for discourse analysis I wrote 5,000 words about a marketing postcard - I don't have a mark yet.

I listened to an eye witness report on the radio today and the woman speaking made two classic language choices. 'I am standing there watching it happen' - the dramatic present  tense and 'At first I thought it was a car crash' - establishing herself as a trusted narrator whose thought patterns are just the same as everyone else's. I still find it slightly surprising when the theory they teach us can be observed in practice in such a classic way.

Hair cut and styled today and nails sparkly purple. Roll on summer!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Collision and Quince

So we are back home after a short trip to North Yorkshire. If anybody is interested in the details, I have started another blog about our travels:

I have done a bit of work for the course whilst we were away and kept an eye on the university web-site. There is not much activity there and everyone seems very behind with the work.

Not a good morning - we went to a shop which wasn't the usual one, didn't consult the list and forgot the chicken for our meal tonight. So we popped into out local Sainsbury's on the way back and on return to the car found that someone had run into it. She was very apologetic but its only a couple of weeks since it came back from the bodyshop from its last incident. Still, its only a car.

Back home, TSH is counting flowers on the quince to see if its better than last year, whilst I obsess about the washing mound on the kitchen floor.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Woman in Black

It is said that theatre is a collaboration between writer, actors, directors, technicians and audience. I have never seen as good an example of audience influencing an event as we had at the Lowry this afternoon. There were a lot of students and school children - normal for a matinee for a set text. And when there were screams they all joined in . And when it got Gothic, they all giggled. I couldn't tell the difference between the sound effects and the audience reaction. Seamless. I have no idea if audiences normally watch this straight but this audience turned it into a modern black comedy. Absolutely brilliant.

Monday, 6 May 2013


The learning advisor has read some of my work and sent good feedback. Overall, my work is 'scientific' and detached, without any wondering aloud. I think 'scientific' is an insult in these circles. I have spent over 40 years developing that style, starting with my maths degree and then in writing business reports. When I was an IT security advisor, I couldn't wonder aloud if people should do backups and have up-to-date virus control. I was expected to quote the relevant business standard and tell them to get on with it. So that style is my USP and I think I'll stick with it. After all, the study of language should be methodical and subject to the scientific process.

Some of her other comments about me not explaining all the details of my argument are very valid, though. Could do better. Will do better.

Today is warm - the first outing this year for cropped trousers and a linen top. Out of doors!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Best zoo - Chester

A day at Chester Zoo was our best day out in ages. Actually, the weather has been so awful it was our first day out in ages. Sunny warm(ish) weather so most of the animals were on view. Spectacled bears, baby giraffe, baby okapi, baby rhino. And we saw the elephants having their shower - well, some of them did. Some of them don't like water and they lurked well out of range. There were two baby elephants and we saw a group of females (communal young rearing) use herd persuasion to get one of the babies into the pool. And the most exciting bit was two jaguars fighting over a sack. The most dramatic bit of jaguar action we have ever seen. And TSH got a photo!!

Stylistics analysis is the scene in Atonement where Celia and Robbie are by the water. They struggle over an antique vase, break it and Celia strips off, goes in and retrieves the bits before stalking off. And then we get Bryony's version from an upper window. She thinks he's proposed!!  Fascinating comparison.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Ready for Summer

Nails done - purple with silver glitter. Summer clothes ready. But its not quite warm enough yet.

Have had lots of trouble with Talktalk broadband and TV. Our new talktalk plus package (iplayer on the TV plus a recording box thats really easy to use) was useless because the line kept dropping. I spoke to four people who all told me different things and kept saying 'I understand your concern' in a flat voice as they read it off the script. I am very unimpressed.

Heard an interview on the radio with a linguist who had studied Parliamentary language for politeness. He had compared Cameron and Brown. (Gordon B. was more polite). And I understood what he was talking about and knew that I could do a study like that. I love being a linguist

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A Japanese poem

Today the Guardian have an interesting article by Ian Martin - 60 thoughts on being 60. One of the comments quotes a poem which I think is great. It was put on by yoyoga

30 April 2013 10:00am

Look forward to getting old... excerpt from my favorite poem, Hokusai Says by Roger Keyes. ( Hokusai was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period.Hokusai is best known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji )

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.
He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing, you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself as long as it's interesting.
He says keep doing what you love.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Good day

As a reward for handing my assignment in, I spent the day dressing up. Going  through my wardrobe to check what I've got for the summer (if it ever happens). I really enjoyed it - it was like retail therapy as I've got lots of things I'd forgotten. And everything still fits! Can't justify buying anything much, since we don't get to wear summer clothes that often. Except new sandals for smart/casual evenings. And an ivory camisole for under jackets. And I think I'll try some leggings for under long tops.

Then its on to stylistics and a poem about pain. We are looking at the use of metaphor at  the moment and how people use it  to describe pain. I think its a dreadful poem.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Handed in

5,000 words about an advertising postcard from Boundary Mill handed in. I've tried really hard with the literature review this time so I think its better but probably not good enough. My confidence in putting together an essay is very low but I know I can write a good report and I know my analysis is good. But I worry that by trying to do the literature review, which I am weak at, I might have lowered my mark. I intend to send some of my work to the learning advisor for comment.

Only 6 weeks to go til I get the result.

I was just shouted at by an electrician I just cancelled. Basically, he turned up but didn't do the job because it was more complicated than he'd worked out at his first visit. He said he couldn't do the burglar alarm side of it at all. After we'd cleared out half the bedroom cupboards and shrouded the bed in plastic for nothing. We arranged for him to come back at a later date but meantime we got somebody else in who's done a good job on electrics and alarm. But I'm 'Bang out of order'. Ooops!

Monday, 22 April 2013


Over 3,000 page views of the blog now - thank you for coming over.

Had electricians in all day replacing bedroom lights. The panic button is now where the light switch used to be - could lead to trouble and confusion.

No work on assignment today - too stressed with workmen. But I made great progress over the weekend and I now have around the right number of words and most of them are good. I need to revise a bit more and smarten up the references and then its done!!!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Gritty Northern Drama

Rutherford and Son at the Lowry is an excellent production. Barrie Rutter in the star part dominates the stage in his usual way. He must have been born with charisma and the performance gene but the way his character was lit probably helped. But the young woman playing Mary was his equal by the end and the final scene with the two of them was chilling. Listed as one on the 100 best plays of the twentieth century. See it if you can.

Another afternoon with the assignment not progressed.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Pompeii, Herculaneum and Roger McGough

We went to the British Museum exhibition about Pompeii and Herculaneum - the two cities destroyed by the AD79 eruption of Vesuvius. The presentation was excellent - they started us off with a film which alternated historical facts with footage of present-day Naples. This brought home the fact that the people who died were real people with lives not dissimilar to those we lead today.  Although I have visited both sites, there were many objects which I have never seen before, such as carbonised recognisable food. And the models of the victims, created using the moulds they left behind, were chilling. Much to be recommended.

And the latest 'face-to-face' session was stylistics, which is really the literary use of language. We looked at a Roger McGough poem which I had never read before. Stylistics is very dependent on the effect sometimes ambiguous language has on the reader. Many of the people on the course are teachers, so they know far more than I do about today's pupils. But when it came to the line 'I wish I could remember my name', all I could think was 'there's something wrong with this child'. But all the teachers were understanding and thought it was normal to be in such a panic. Now, I was timid (still am, honestly), but there was never any possibility of forgetting my name. Does this really happen?

This part of the course looks really organised - all the materials are there already, as they should be, so we can work at our own pace.

Meanwhile, back to Critical Discourse Analysis and my Boundary Mill postcard.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Well, its a perspective

We went to the ice age art exhibition at the British Museum. It was awesome in the full sense of the word to see artefacts created by humans 20,000-30,000 years ago. It is a great exhibition.

But ... these marvellous objects have been hijacked by the artists (yes, I know, the clue is in the title). And they've interpreted everything in their own terms (imagination, religion etc). When really, they might well have been engineering diagrams depicting literally the world around them. I know I have a BA now, and I'm working for my MA but I'm still the BSc computer nerd at heart. And the world is ours, too.

There were some really interesting carvings of women but the interpreters had used modern values to group them as 'young, slim and erotic' or 'old obese and not erotic'. ITS NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. 

My favourite bit was the description of a carved duck, which was 'positioned in the void between the upper and lower cosmos' meaning 'there's a lot of blank space around it'. And then they'd added 'Or its a picture of a meal with a useful bundle of feathers'. That one got through the Pomposity Enforcers.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

I'm not often annoyed with TSH but ...

Today we had the ceremony of the switching on of the pond pump. And it caused the electricity supply to the whole house to trip out. Including my computer when I was mid-essay.

Fortunately, I 'save' fairly often so I hadn't lost a great deal. But its not the paragraph you knew you wrote that's the issue. Its the minor corrections you make when re-reading earlier bits.

He is very sorry.

I still don't know what to wear to the seminar. My best winter top, which might be too warm? My second best, which I think I wore last time? Something more Spring-like, with a thermal layer underneath? Crammed wardrobes and nothing to wear.

I know, really. No-one's looking at me.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Structure improving

Yesterday I was really depressed about the assignment about the advertising postcard for Boundary Mill. Yes, I know, trying to write 5,000 words about a discount store postcard. What did I expect?

I spent  yesterday afternoon doing little more than staring at what I had written and doing a bit of 'rearranging the Titanic deckchairs'. But today, I have been a lot more focused and I fixed the structure. I am going to follow Cook, who deals with material (its a postcard), language (words, grammar, colour, typeface, layout) and then people (readers, writers). I now have over 4,00 words, although they won't all make the final cut. I still have a tendency to retreat to my spreadsheet and count something else. Because I can. And I'm a nerd at heart. All those years of maths and IT are deep in there and I still feel I'm a cheat as an arts graduate. Me, with a BA!!

And the next problem is what to wear next weekend. Its the start day for the next module, which is stylistics. And I don't know how the weather will be. Its getting a bit warm for full-on winter but its certainly not summer. Is any of last year's spring wardrobe smart enough?

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Not the best day

It started well with a full English at our favourite hotel (Trout, Cockermouth). Then we went to two smart clothes shops. Found nothing to enhance my Spring/Summer 2013 appearance. The coffee bar we normally use was closed and the other one totally full. So we went to a garden centre, where TSH couldn't find the plants he needs. Then he had the 'worst cappuccino ever'. And he scraped the car. These things happen but he is in, I estimate, a three day strop alternated with depression.

Monday, 1 April 2013

They think I'm mad

Sometimes I can see it in people's eyes. 'Why are you putting yourself through essays and dissertations and exams at your age?' 'What's the point?' 'Why do you care what someone else thinks of your work?'

But I don't criticise what they do. I would hate craft lessons. I started a book club and was bullied out because someone decided she didn't like me. I'm not any good at sport. Never have been. And I still find time for Tai Chi and holidays and  days out. I'm living the dream.

Saturday, 30 March 2013


Lunch party at 12:30. First arrivals 11:00. Apple crumble, chocolate puddings, citrus pudding made. Slow cooked beef in ale in oven. Chicken and salmon still to do. And canapes (just rushed off to put eggs on to boil).

TSH made vegetable and lentil stew in advance yesterday. Quantity is enormous - used lots of pans. We think we might be eating it for months.

Still to have bath and hair and make-up. Can't decide what to wear. Is it winter or summer?

Happy Easter

Friday, 29 March 2013


So we went to a funeral and afterwards TSH left his mother and sister in the church porch whilst we went for the car to pick them up. He drove back to the church entrance the wrong way round the church one-way system because 'that's OK if you're picking up a 93-year old'. All the time, people were waving frantically at us and I was having an out-of body-experience, in an avoidance kind of way. Then he got out of the car and went into the church to find them. They had wandered off in the opposite direction 'to make things easier for us'.

There I was in a car, nose to nose with the hearse which was ready to leave. Everybody staring at me. Knowing there was no way I could successfully reverse the car  in a straight line back down the narrow space he had driven up. Covering my eyes with my hands.

My father was a funeral director. He would have been livid if anyone had done that at one of his funerals.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

No MA work for the next few days

So the house is all ready for Easter visitors. And we bought a mountain of food today so I hope everyone can make it through the snow. We have collected TSH's mother who is with us for almost a week.

I have ideas about how to structure the essay but they'll have to remain ideas for a while. I think I'll structure the essay just like the course but refer to Cook, who says an advert is a good example of text which can be subjected to critical discourse analysis. And then the multimodality is important because the lexical density is so high that colour and layout are needed to make sense of it.

Last weekend TSH went to a steam rally. On the way, we visited the Black Country museum. I had never heard of it before but it is world-class - a town reconstruction just as good as Ironbridge or Beamish.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

House back

The power flush is done and they've gone!! All over the house all day - house freezing cold. But they worked hard. And the washing machine still works. And the problem with our TV recording system is resolved.

I went to Old Faithful and my hair is done.

The logistics of my life are OK.

Back to direct mail and semiotics.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


When those who run the course don't seem seem to be interested, its very difficult to get motivated. Materials put up a week late, still with no audio. But she says its OK if we hand in the task late. No mention that the work will then run into the time for writing the assignment. And no negotiation there about handing in times.

They really don't get it that part time distance learners work that way because they want to choose when they work. Last week I was motivated and there was no session to look at. Yes, I know, I read up other things and started on the assignment. This week, I'm tired and can't be bothered and I think 'if they're not bothered, neither am I'.  But its for me, not them, so I'll plod on. And it really is plodding at the moment. I hate literature reviews. I'd rather do my own thing.

At least the washing machine is working now. New motor but that was covered under contract. But tomorrow, British Gas are back for a power flush of the central heating. All over the house for a full day.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Domestic disaster

First the spin cycle started being very noisy. Then the spin cycle failed so we had clean but very wet clothes. Now the whole machine has failed so we have wet dirty washing. And we have to go to a launderette!! Fortunately I have already booked an engineer for tomorrow. But if it can't be repaired, it could easily take a couple of weeks to get a new one. And we are going away for a few days and then having visitors over Easter. Sheets and towels.

What did people do before washing machines?

And I'm supposed to be writing 5,000 words about a direct mail postcard.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Almost like a cruise

We went to a presentation from the cruise line we travel with. They gave us afternoon tea at the Hard Days Night Hotel in Liverpool. And told us about expedition ships to Antarctica and Galapagos. More TSH's thing than mine but I have told him I will go as long as I can mostly stay on the ship and watch from afar. He says that would be just a waste but when we go 'up the Amazon', I intend mostly to stay on the ship. Its a jungle out there.

Home, quick change and then a History Group presentation about the Co-op. I relate to this one because I spent my early years living close to Rochdale, where it all started. I must say the Cooperative principles could well be applied to the current situation in the UK but I don't suppose anyone with any influence would want to do something that might benefit everybody in the country.

I'm still pleased about the comments about the strength of my linguistic analysis. Since I'm doing this for pleasure, should I concentrate on the analysis, which I enjoy, and neglect the literature, which I mostly don't? But I need to play the game to get good marks.

Friday, 15 March 2013


Last night we went to see Verdi's Otello at the Lowry, Salford. Othello is the Shakespeare play I know best, so I really looked forward to this and I wasn't disappointed. Great voices from everyone in the Opera North cast, in spite of an announcement that some of them had colds. I'm not sure if it was this particular production or the opera itself, but it seemed to lack the subtlety of Othello. He seemed to believe the lies about Desdemona all at once instead of showing growing doubts and gradual physical and mental deterioration. But it was a really great evening.

I am relieved that there does not seem to be any problem with my linguistic analysis and that the issues are connected with engaging with the literature and presenting the argument in that context. Its the linguistic analysis I enjoy and I would be devastated if it wasn't up to standard. I find the literature review side of it much more boring. But I know I have to do it.

And the latest material will be made available a week late (maybe). Out of sight out of mind. An MA through distance learning is like trying to get it with hands tied behind back,

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Is this a breakthrough?

I went to see a tutor, who looked through my essays and feedback so far. It seems that my linguistics analysis is, by and large, at the 'distinction' level, but that I'm not using and quoting the literature properly and not giving enough examples. I have a much better idea of what to do now - I should have gone to see someone earlier.

I saw a noticeboard about the 'Faculty Student Learning Advisor', who does regular sessions on campus about exactly the issues I struggle with. I am now in touch with her as well and will take her advice. But why didn't I know about her before? No-one sent us any information. When I was at University the first time, I'm sure this kind of post did not exist. And now I have so many lower marks that a Distinction overall is no longer possible (but I might get a merit??).

I also talked to the Course administrator about the time-table for next year. If I get the MA, the degree ceremony will be held whilst we are 'up the Amazon'. I am really really disappointed. But what a time-table clash! Am I lucky or what?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

No action

The next mini piece of work is due in on Monday and nobody has posted anything yet. I have been concentrating on reading some of the literature so I haven't finished the work yet either. But it is really frustrating to try to follow up a reference and then I can't find the book or journal on-line. If material is only available in print from a university library, it isn't much good to me really.

I spent the afternoon with a friend from school who has just retired and is looking to see what she can do next. We are not a generation to sit around 'being retired' - we all want to do things and complete projects even now.

I am seeing a tutor on Friday about improving my essays - I will wear one of my new(-ish) layered tops made up of many fabrics and shapes and my black boots. And my black vinyl carry-all. Trendy but business-like. I hope.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Shopped and dropped

I met a friend at Boundary Mill and we shopped all day - I can't remember the last time I did that and it was such good fun!! Its between seasons and that meant the bargains were exceptional - I got three black evening tops, two of them Alexon, for less than £20.

Its a Boundary Mill direct mail that I'm analysing for my next assignment on multi-modal discourse. I believe in gathering data from my own real life. TSH has taken a picture of the current plush Boundary Mill to show how different it is from the home-spun image and the chimney with smoke which is on their logo.

The previous afternoon, we saw Mother Courage and her Children at Lowry, Salford. We all really enjoyed it.

Last night I was totally exhausted.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

History of English Result

Feedback was published for my comparison of the trials of Shipman the mass murderer and the Duke of Norfolk, who was accused of high treason. I got 68!! Two marks short of a distinction. He said some really nice things about it but also that my approach was 'like a blunderbuss'. Whatever did he mean?

Well, I know what he meant. I got carried away doing many many analyses with no methodology and no clear research question. I knew this whilst I was writing but did not know how to correct it. I've asked if he will see me so I can work at improvement.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Spoiler alert - Skyfall

We are traumatised this week because over two nights we watched the last episode of Silent Witness where Leo died and the Skyfall when M died. But both brilliant!!

Still working on short exercise analysing conversation but no-one has posted an answer yet and its due in on Monday. I'll be the first, as usual. We got some feedback on our last exercise - there seem to be a lot of things none of us understand, which makes me feel better and less inferior. And my book on 'How to do a literature review' arrived. This is an issue which continues to give me a lot of worry.

And I am sleeping well for a change. We changed our 6-year old Tempur mattress for a new one. The old mattress was making me so hot, they should come with a health warning. The new one is natural fibres, which is so comfortable and does not seem to have affected my asthma yet, at least.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


Last night we went to a Bellowhead concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. They are a group of 11 and I would call their music folk-rock. A mixture of traditional songs and their own material. The singer, although good, sometimes can't be heard above the massive sound of the strings, brass and drums. But they are fantastically talented. When they announced they were going to play dance music, I expected the British attitude of 'well, I'll dance if lots of others will'. But, no, lots of people immediately rushed into the aisles and to the front and started random dancing. And lots of them were my age or older. We children of the sixties who are now in our sixties know how to party. We were in the circle so my sister and I just stood up and clapped and jogged about a bit. Eventually TSH stood up because 'he couldn't see anything because of the way the rest of us were behaving'. But he enjoyed it in his understated way (I think!!).

But the band's laptops were stolen during the first half, What an indictment of the Phil's management!!

I am trying to analyse a team conversation from a work context but I am so tired after the late night that its not going well.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Planning the assignment

The assignment requirements have been posted. 5,000 words required and lots of opportunities to analyse  texts. But I've done that so many times before. So I might tackle a 'multi-modal' text. Something where language, pictures and typography work together. We haven't studied this yet but it will be different and it might stretch me a bit more than some assignments have done.

But the module we were due to start yesterday is still not there.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Its come to a halt

So I've posted the latest task, which is due this weekend. No-one else has posted anything. The session due to start on Monday is not available yet. At this stage in a module I usually know what marked assignment I'll be doing. But that's not available either. I asked the tutor a few days ago about the assignment and she said it would be available on Thursday. Its now Saturday. I could do other things but I know as soon as I immerse myself in another task, the course will pick up and I'll have to drop it.

The purpose of this course for me is to provide a little brain-work most afternoons, with a goal at the end of it. And with an interesting topic. Its ticking some boxes but not all of them just now. And the subject is Critical Discourse analysis, which I expected to be one of the best.

Meanwhile the sales are over and the new clothes aren't in yet so retail therapy is not an option. I tried to read part of Follett's Century trilogy (which is brilliant)  but my Kindle needs charging. I'm part way through 'Winter of the World'.

But I have a fabulous new pedicure - deep purple with a silver sparkle layer. The same as last time but I love it. And I already have a wardrobe full of great clothes (well, more than one wardrobe if I'm honest!).

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Now its bad audio

Well, pairs didn't work as I had to finish by Thursday and my 'pair' could only work over the weekend. And I didn't see anything else submitted by any other pairs either.

I tried to listen to the new audio lecture but it was punctuated by so many bangs and 'noises off' that I couldn't concentrate and even TSH was making 'what on earth is that?' noises. I wrote to the tutor and although she concedes its not very good, she thinks its usable. Fortunately textual cohesion is a topic I've come across before so I'll revise it from my OU text book before I tackle the exercise. Its an analysis of Obama's second inaugural speech.

We've been so busy I've missed the sales!!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Will pairs work?

The essay is in. I really enjoyed comparing the language in the trials of the Dike of Norfolk (1571) and Shipman, but I've really got tired of them both and I'm glad to move on.

Its TSH's birthday tomorrow and we are out for dinner. No idea what to wear yet. How smart? How warm? Its barely above freezing day or night at the moment. We couldn't even do our daily walk today because the ground is so icy and slippery.

The tutor for critical discourse analysis wants us to work in pairs for our tasks- every two weeks, we have an audio lecture, do some reading and then submit a task to our forum. No marking, but we are supposed to contribute to about half of them. Now, we are a group who are working part-time and distance and have busy lives, so this is going to be interesting. Several of us have said it won't work but they want us to try.

One of the other students has suggested we work together and I have no problems with that - we always have a good chat when we meet at the face-to-face days. But the current one is due in next Monday and I can't work this weekend. So I have Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday afternoons to complete this. I thought that would be OK, as many tasks are not too difficult. But this one is quite time-consuming - I spent all Tuesday afternoon on it and have done barely half. I am sure my 'pair' has similar constraints, as she also has a job. We have no time that I can see to work on anything jointly.

So how is this to work?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A poem by Tony Harrison

No, I know this isn't a poetry blog. But I read that there's a huge fuss because the BBC are to read the whole of  a poem with 'bad' language in it. So I read the poem all through and its amazing. Written by the Leeds poet Tony Harrison about his working class roots. Tragi-comic. These are very much like my  roots.
warning - language may offend.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

We went to London

It was the face-to-face day for my course - discourse analysis, where we looked at texts including newspapers and cold call telephone conversations. I think this part of the course will be one of the most interesting for me.  I wore one of my new sweaters - big, baggy and elegant, with the necklace I haggled for in Shanghai.

We took the opportunity to see War Horse. It was a bit jingoistic at first, but that was how the propaganda was. But then it presented the action from the German perspective. They were just like the English and wanted to go home as soon as possible. Also, I expected to be annoyed about the emphasis on the horses but they repeatedly said 'actually, this doesn't matter, because so many people are dying'. The horses were spectacular, but scary from where we were on the front row. I thought they were going to gallop off the stage and crush us!!

We also walked a lot and visited the V&A and the Transport Museum at Covent Garden, which is a good social history of London. I bought a new silver necklace which will look good on smart evenings on cruises.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

I'm an old age pensioner

Today is the official day. Its not my birthday but they are gradually moving the date from 60 to 65, so most of us hit the milestone at some totally random date in between. We are the same people who when we were 18, the age for 'coming of age' was 21. By the time we were 21, the age was 18. So we misssed that milestone too.

Christmas and New Year have been good but hectic and I haven't even touched the essay, which is due in in less than two weeks. And a minor exercise which I haven't even looked at yet is due on Monday. And the Christmas tree is still up. And the guest bedroom needs cleaning.  I'm declaring a state of emergency!