July review – Summer workin’


Highlight: The month started with a week’s holiday, exploring local beaches. And since then I’ve been enjoying summer work mode. Now that my daughter is grown, I don’t have to take holidays during peak months and it’s a really good time to do work. Meetings have plummeted, so I’ve been ticking tasks off my to do list, having dog walks at lunch, written a book chapter and scheduled in remaining work. In short, it has felt how work should feel. I wake up at night and think “oh, it’s ok, I’ve got a fairly easy work day tomorrow”. Not that I’m one of those people who work weekends or late into the night anyway, but a bit more freedom to stretch in the day is certainly welcome.

Teaching: I’ve spent some of my spare time developing a short course for someone else (I’m not sure if it’s been announced yet, so not being deliberately coy). It was a pleasure to be freed up where you don’t have the full responsibility, direct authoring into Moodle without the OU’s complex production processes (which are good at maintaining quality, but a bit of a joy sucker). It has felt creative, fun and liberating.

Theme: When I was in school, Grease was in the cinemas, and Summer Nights was a big hit. There’s a line in it that goes something like “well-a, well-a, well-a uh, Tell me more”. Everyone heard this as “Weller, Weller, Weller huh” and would constantly shout this to me as I walked around school. The joke wore thin quickly. That song has many worse lyrics though. Anyway, this early repetition means that I can’t help thinking about Summer Nights when I think of summer and the inevitable “Weller, Weller, Weller uh” chant (no need to repeat this when I meet you at conferences). But yes, summer nights of dog walking, going to the pub and the cinema (twice!).

Lowlight: Let’s be positive eh?

Vinyl highlight: I enjoyed Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie and the Savages’ Jehnny Beth teaming up for a country rock album about a fictional divorce, but I’ll go for Japanese Breakfast’s Jubilee for this month’s vinyl. Japanese Breakfast (aka Michelle Zauner) have released an upbeat, joyous pop album combining synth, indie, disco and a smidgen of emo. It’s a great summer listen (better than Grease soundtrack anyway).

Book: As part of my summer working lifestyle I’ve been reading more book books (as opposed to audiobooks). One I really enjoyed and admired was Alex Von Tunzelmann’s Fallen Idols. She takes the account of 12 statues that were pulled down to tell both the story of the men behind them (they are all men, which is part of her general criticism of statues reinforcing the Great Man thesis of history) and more significantly our relationship with statues and history more widely. It is of course, a very timely book, and she does a thorough job of debunking the four main arguments that people use when a statue is toppled. It’s also punchily written and very entertaining.

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