Because of how my part-time working days fall, I am now on strike for the better part of a month. Financially, I have mixed feelings about this the length of the strike as it puts me in a very difficult position, but I will not be crossing a picket line and I will for the most part be on strike proper. I am not striking about money. When I do get my full salary, I can manage, there are people worse off than me in the world, and I am lucky enough to do a job I love. But the working conditions we currently face are increasingly bad. I love my job but I have been really suffering from stress this semester especially. There have even been days I’ve been depressed, in tears and not wanted to go to work, simply because I have too much to do and not enough time to spend with my students. I have been running from one class to the next, from one subject to another with literally no thinking time between them, never mind toilet breaks or chance to grab a coffee. The mental strain of always being ‘on’, at the front of the class teaching complex issues without time to properly prepare or even get your mind in the right zone is extremely draining. My students are not getting the best experience that they could, I am very conscious every day that I could be doing a better job if I was run less ragged. I am increasingly feeling like a ‘content delivery mechanism’ rather than a knowledgeable critical thinker, like a lecturer should be. But when do we get time to build that knowledge, keep up to date with new books and articles?! The couple of working hours a week I do get outside of class time lately are spent in intense meetings with my dissertation students trying to help them formulate a focus, or standing over a printer/photocopier preparing materials to rush to the next class. Oh yeah, they recently took away the printers in our offices so we have to walk to the other end of the building now to print anything out, where queues now build as we are all using the same machines. So printing might take half an hour now where it took a minute or two a few weeks ago. Lunch breaks have not existed for me or many of my colleagues for a number of years now. Recently some of my colleagues and I have been arranging work meetings on our “days off” – unpaid time – as there is simply no time we can manage on our working days. I will be using the strike time as a precious space to work on my own PhD research, time I do not usuallly get, as academics dream of having a few clear days of decent thinking space to write and, believe it or not, we tend to ENJOY doing research. I am paid to work 3 days a week, and doing my PhD is supposed to be part of my job. I always do it on my 2 days off, you cannot fit in doing a PhD for an hour here or there between teaching, marking, piles of admin, staff meetings etc. I can only imagine what it is like for my full-time colleagues. This is NOT SUSTAINABLE. This is why I am personally supporting the strike.
I was chuffed to be ‘officially’ recognised as an accomplice of the Folk Horror Revival in Dec 2019, so am officially now a member of The Order of the Double Denim. Yay!
I am a bit obsessed with The Marvellous Mrs Maisel TV series, it combines a number of things I like – 1950s/1960s culture, feminism, stand up comedy and some very splendid outfits indeed. It’s not THAT often I drool over costumes in film and TV, but here is a character who is smart, funny, and wears all the same clothes I that I would – at least I would if I were rich, lived in early 1960s Manhattan and could be bothered to do anything tidy with my hair!
I haven’t made any complicated clothes for a while so, when I found a huge piece of Sari silk in a charity shop for £4, I decided it was time to rifle through my vintage patterns and make the most Maisel-eque dress I could.
I’d made the simplest pencil dress from this pattern before, without any of the frills, so at least I knew it would fit and then started to work on the biggest version with all the frills! Unusually for me, I even bothered to make it properly, you know, with actually ironing the fabric at the stages you’re supposed to, and putting in interfacing in the right places – something I don’t always strictly adhere to.
Luckily I had enough fabric for the full skirt and had a 50s-style petticoat to put underneath to fluff the shape out properly. I even made bows for the shoulders and a matching belt, using a vintage belt buckle I found online. Including the material, buckle, zip and bits and pieces I bought, this entire dress still cost me less than £10. I made a makeshift clutch bag also, a bit rough and ready but at least it matches! I’d just like an opportunity to have someplace to wear it now!
Rowan Cottage, list of activities.