That was 2014 that was….

Blog #1

So, 2014 has finished, welcome to 2015. Was it a good year, a bad year, a mediocre year? I really don’t know. But it was a significant year. And while I know time goes quicker as you get older, it has passed in a flash. I am at a loss to explain how the past 4 months have gone by so quickly and why, amongst other things, I have failed to write much in this format. Partly explained by accepting that most of you read Facebook first, but even so, I just haven’t had time to write any little comment pieces of late.

2014 was a year of two halves. The first was awaiting Amanda’s operation, which eventually arrived in June. Once we had a date, we entered into a rather manic pre-operation period, with parties, meeting people, little trips away and so on. I had naively thought that I would get a chance to catch up with myself and domestic things when she was in hospital, but that just didn’t happen! After two fairly miserable weeks in Kingston as a ‘patient’ Amanda went to Roehampton for ‘rehabilitation’. The two processes are utterly different. As a patient she was passively ‘treated’, in Roehampton she was responsible for her own recovery. After the first one, she was allowed out at weekends, The second weekend we spent in a hotel in Worthing, learning what it is like to be wheelchair-bound… Not good but a great weekend with Sian, Becky, Alix, Marilyn & co. Weekends at home were less good. Despite rearranging much of the house, the wheelchair is just too big for home and we were quite despondent. Then, quite suddenly, she was on her feet (foot and new foot), walking, climbing and home! Two days after leaving hospital she had an interview for a paid job at CAB which she started two weeks later. And apart from a week in Guildford hospital after picking up an infection, and frequent visits to Roehampton for ‘tweaks’ to the new leg, that was that. Everything is back to normal.

Which doesn’t explain my lack of time. I suppose it is because things are not really ‘normal’ at all. Amanda has done really well in general terms, but in detail each week brings new challenges, gains and losses. For almost 6 weeks she was at the gym 2 or even 3 times a week, but recent problems have meant it is a month since she was last there. The reality is a daily analysis of how the leg is standing up to the ‘normal’ rigours of going to work, housework and travelling. Every adjustment at Roehampton leads to days of evaluating whether things are better or worse.

Then there is work. At the start of December the Institute of Education was ‘merged’ (love that word in this context!) with UCL. While there are staff who see this as a great opportunity the majority are alarmed, scared and apprehensive. Administratively, the Institute is a total mess and everyone is struggling. My own projects have been very challenging and stressful, not the usual run of things since I joined seven years ago. So work has been an unhappy place to be this past quarter. That said, I was delighted to have my first ever academic article published (well I was a co-author) this year, and I have also written a chapter in a book about mathematics education which is being published early in the new year. However, the real ambition now is to get something of clerical celibacy published and on the record.

I organised a meeting of the Medieval Studies Forum at the start of December on Medieval religious belief, and thought it would be good to do a bit of research into Surrey heretics. This was rather more work than initially envisaged, but led to my being able to name 17 Lollard heretics from Medieval Surrey.

Any semblance of peace at home was shattered when we decided to have work done on our cellar to make it easier for Amanda to access - this mainly involved proper stairs and better damp proofing. This meant that everything in the most cluttered room in the house had to be moved out, up two flights of stairs, then back again when the work was finished. After last year’s disasters at the allotment we settled on having a greenhouse in the garden, which meant demolishing the current shed and laying some hard standing. So all that stuff had to go somewhere, leading to a downstairs shower filled with pots of paint! Both projects are nearing completion I am pleased to say.

So to 2015. May looks to be the pivotal month with both a general election and Tracey getting married! I see another year in two parts…. We already have various events booked and the diary is alarmingly full even at this early date. However, the timeframe for Amanda’s operation was always a year, so I anticipate that by the second half of the year we will be closer to where we used to be, for holidays, walking and so on. And I am confident that after a break of two years, we can get back to festival-going in the summer.

So however we look at it, 2014 has been a memorable year, and despite the stresses and strains, I think we would have settled for where we are now if it had been offered a year ago.


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