All entries for February 2006

February 28, 2006

Tuesday, 28 February

Presentation seemed to be a success. When I read it through on the bus this morning I realised that it could do with being a couple of minutes longer, so I hared into the computer room to tack on an extra two-hundred words to the script and scrape together a hasty supplement for my handout. I drew all of the other MA students, PhD student extraordinaire Conor 'C-Man' Whately as well as Zahra Newby, Penny Goodman, Simon Swain and Dan Orrells. Carlo turned up as we were leaving the room, thinking it was at one 'o' clock rather than noon — I assured him that he missed nothing he hadn't already read from my essay last term.

I think that I was able to keep everything intelligible for the class [of whom no-one really knew anything about Petrarch] and I fielded a hatful of questions afterward [sounding, I think, like I genuinely knew what I was talking about] prompting a discussion of maybe twenty minutes. Zahra also remarked favourably on my slick-looking handout in 10 pt Arial. It may be that I give a follow-up presentation [possibly on the subject of my current chapter — that is, focusing on the influence of Servius in the process of this imitation] at the PhD open day on 18 May.

Have added to my chapter a pitiful total of about 150 words in over two hours this afternoon. I plan to spend all of tomorrow [or at least, the parts when I'm not translating for Greek or working at the — sigh — BioMed Grid] moving this awful thing towards its elusive conclusion.

Now, I have to go. Masterchef, you understand.

February 27, 2006

Monday, 27 February

Inched past the mini-milestone that is the final subheading [probably] of my Servius chapter just now. Having finished the section on Petrarch's writing the Bucolicum Carmen to accommodate the tastes of uber-finicky grammatical commentators, I now have only to complete the section on his reworking of the Servian idea of pastoral as a metaphor for the intellectual's existence. For sure, easier said than done — though I feel now that the end is very nearly in sight.

Word count is about 4,700 — so I'm on target in that respect as well.

Speaking of "intellectual existence": my research presentation on that very topic will be rolling into town tomorrow at high noon, with a six-shooter in its belt and a cigarette wedged between its teeth. If you're the macabre sort with a penchant for zinging bullets, spattered bloodstains and unadulterated ultraviolence, then I do recommend you come along. There are twelve handouts — copied at the hand of Josie Brown herself, no less, this very afternoon — to go around.

"A man's life in these parts often depends on a mere scrap of information"

Expect to spend the rest of the evening practising tomorrow's schtick.

Last Italian lecture today, with exams and revision sessions incumbent from now until the end of the year. Tutor Simon Gilson remarked that I have shown a strong improvement since joining the class [which, considering that I couldn't exactly go backwards starting from scratch, is something of a relief]. The idea now is that I spend a couple of hours every week grappling with some of the Italian texts that Carlo Caruso recommended to me at the beginning of the year.

February 25, 2006

Saturday, 25 February

Progress is slow. Surprise, surprise.

Word count at about 4,500. Struggling to make a good job of Buc X and the catalogue of poets.

Going to Learning Grid in an hour.

February 22, 2006

Wednesday, 22 February

I believe the accurate term to describe what I've been having the past two days is "a mare". Among various other random acts of senselessness, I have realised [after a period of one week] that while I was out running errands on Valentine's day afternoon, I managed to somewhere misplace a book that my housemate had borrowed for me from Bristol University library. Attempts to track it down have been unsuccessful and the odds of it turning up anywhere have to be slim to nil. I have been in touch with librarians at Bristol and if it should remain lost three weeks from now, then I will do very well to have to pay only £25 to replace it.

Unfortunately, a full £50 is probably a more realistic estimate.

And so preoccupied was I on the bus this afternoon, taken by a sudden impulse to dash down from the top deck and tear Robert Dyas' to pieces with my bare hands to look for it, that I left my woolie gloves lying on the seat. It's very trying, being such a moron.

In brighter news, I have approximately 24 hours to meet my self-imposed deadline for finishing the Servius chapter. Considering my present rate and dearth of ideas, direction or motivation, I think that I would do well to have it done before the end of term. I have today returned to the writing after a hiatus of almost ten days, and added about 300 words in the last few hours. Attempted to revise the plan that is blu-tacked on the wall next to my desk so as to try to plot a course through this shadowy second-half of the chapter, but have ended up with something essentially the same as I had before. Of no consolation is the fact it still took me an hour-and-a-half to do that.

Trialled my seminar presentation for Kate last evening; such a sweet heart, to willingly sit through it twice. She said that although it was good, she found it confusing in more than one place and that I'd probably benefit from stressing more frequently my key points. The handout that I spent yesterday afternoon compiling was also, she said, difficult to follow. All in all I think that it won't require much more work and should go well, still.

Working at BioMed Grid tomorrow, till four. I'm optimistic that I may be able to steal a little ground before that deadline goes whooshing past, though.

February 20, 2006

Monday, 20 February

Just finished the script for my seminar presentation — such an alien feeling to actually conclude a piece of work. It may require a few alterations and I still have to compile the handout but on the whole I think it should go off a treat.

That's next Tuesday, the 28th, at 12pm in H204.

Under The Beech: Representations of the Poet's Existence in the Bucolics of Virgil and Petrarch

Do come.

February 16, 2006

Thursday, 16 February

So another week slips me by without hardly studying. And without blogging, by proxy.

I had a positive meeting with Andrew on Monday but haven't really managed to build on it since then. I was able yesterday to begin the script for my presentation on Tuesday 28th and have written about 250 words thusfar. Andrew's suggestion was that I look to make it about 4–5 pages long to fit in with the twenty minute time limit.

Starting work in the new BioMed Grid in the Medical School today [in about twenty minutes, to be precise]. Management is very kindly allowing me to leave an hour-and-a-half early so I can be on hand to greet Charles Martindale to the University when he arrives about four.

Myself, Kate and Conor are all down to go with the lecturers to dinner at Harrington's in Kenilworth after the five 'o' clock seminar; promises to be an interesting evening — the finer details of which I shall probably relate in tomorrow's Blog entry.

Yes, you read correct. I actually plan on getting some work done tomorrow.

February 12, 2006

Sunday, 12 February

Took an hour and a half to add the 280 words needed to kill off that stubborn little section concerning Petrarch's ubiquitously allegorical reading of the Eclogues that was the basis for his imitation. I am now officially at the half-way point in the chapter [count is just a shade over 3500] and happy to show Andrew my progress tomorrow. The difficulty is that I am venturing now into unchartered territory; my plan for the latter half of the chapter -- dealing specifically with the Servian elements of the Bucolicum Carmen — is so wishy-washy that I fear it may need a complete revamp before I get going.

Still. Something to do tomorrow.

February 11, 2006

Saturday, 11 February

From Tuesday, 07 February:

Should be able to scrape a further 5700 words together in the afternoon, concluding all the business about allegory [including the ways in which Petrarch departs from Servius' reading]. Perhaps a little optimistic…

Ah, me! In truth, I've barely touched the thing since then. I don't know what happened to Wednesday; Thursday I was working at the Grid, and spent the evening revising with Kate for Friday's Greek test; what time I had for work on Friday was used to build a skeleton plan for my Week 9 presentation. Looking at my entry from last Saturday, I feel like I may be experiencing some sort of "Groundhog Day" existence.

I believe that I am partially exonerated by my going to the gym on a couple of occasions this week. I haven't managed any proper exercise since starting my MA, since the people with whom I played football once a week last year are no longer around; Kate's adoption of a five-times-a-week exercise regimen since Christmas has shamed me into action. That's where I lost Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning, though it doesn't excuse my coming home and doing hardly anything afterwards. From now on I plan to be in there pumping my spindly limbs twice a week; whether that has to be scaled back with the approach of my deadlines [twelve days to 23 February] remains to be seen.

Added about 170 words this morning. I am mentoring a new Student Support Advisor on my shift this afternoon so taking my chapter to the Learning Grid is out of the question [not that I ever do any writing there, but merely muse]. As long as I close the subheading on allegorical interpretation before Monday afternoon — when I'm due to meet with Andrew and discuss my progress — I think I'll be happy with how things are going. Should require another 500 words or so this evening [ha!] and tomorrow.

Greek test went well. Italian translation to do [I think] for Monday. Mustn't forget!

February 10, 2006

You are cordially invited…

Tuesday 28 February, 12pm. H204.

A lunchtime seminar with the following on the menu, prepared lovingly by yours truly:

Under the Beech: Representations of the Poet's Existence in the Bucolics of Virgil and Petrarch.

Promises to be delicious, I'm sure you'll all agree.

February 07, 2006

Tuesday, 07 February

Managed about 500 words today. Still haven't quite put to bed the section that discusses Petrarch's fondness for the biographical allegory in the Eclogues — but I am on the verge of doing so. Current count is just about 3000 [inc. footnotes]

Progress continues to be agonisingly slow. I have this theory that having my desk in the corner of the room facing the wall is detrimental to my attention span; that the point of focus is about two feet in front of my nose means I can't lose myself in a far-off stare while I ponder over my latest writer's block. If I could face a tranquil window, I'd be tearing the thing to shreds. I'm certain of it.

My sister Caroline is staying till tomorrow morning. Should be able to scrape a further 5–700 words together in the afternoon, concluding all the business about allegory [including the ways in which Petrarch departs from Servius' reading]. Perhaps a little optimistic; though assuming things don't grind to an awful halt when I get into the hazier second half of the chapter, I should be able to meet my self-imposed 23 February deadline.

February 2006

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