Weekend Reading: A Nice Problem to Have

It’s been an odd week, in both good and bad ways.

My little boy went back to his school this week. A few of the children with Special Educational Needs were invited back for a couple of weeks before the holidays, and he was one of them. Good news, on the face of it – but let’s just say it hasn’t been easy! It’s a taste of things to come, and makes me even more relieved that The Open University has been up-front about cancelling face-to-face classes for the rest of 2020 – because things are going to be strange and difficult for a while, with all kinds of unanticipated challenges.

I also received good but complicated news about my recent Teaching Award. The good bit (a very good bit, really) is that I get money. Hooray! The complicated bit is that I don’t actually get to touch the money myself. It all has to be spent on my behalf by somebody else. Oh, and I can’t give it away or use it to buy cake – it has to be spent on approved ‘professional development’. And it can’t be used for conferences or events or training courses (which is frustrating, because I’d LOVE to do all of those things!), because they aren’t running at the moment. The final twist is that I can’t save the money for a more convenient time; all of it has to be spent before the end of the month, or it will disappear in a puff of magic smoke.

I can honestly say that this is a problem I’ve never encountered before. Usually I’m trying to figure out how to do work-related things using only the coins I found in the pockets of my winter coat. I know I should be enjoying it (and eventually I’m sure I will), but at this stage all I’m feeling is a Supermarket-Sweep kind of panic. It’s very weird.

So… what am I going to buy with my winnings, you ask?

Well, all suggestions gratefully received! But this is what I’m thinking right now…

For a start, I’ve gained approval to invest in new ‘hardware’ (I think that’s the proper term for Computer Stuff these days). For years I’ve been conducting online classes and developing a website using just a basic and clunky laptop; I don’t have a scanner or a printer or decent speakers, or any of the things that might make my job a bit easier. It’s only in the last year that I’ve even had a desk (although to be precise it’s a repurposed dining table wedged into a corner!). So my current idea is to buy a couple of monitors and a proper desktop PC. Here’s a picture of my current tech-lite set-up… I’ll post an after-picture if I do manage to buy something fancy!


(Yes, I did tidy up before I took the photo – usually you can’t even see the table!)



And with any left-over money… well, I made some enquiries, and it seems that subject-related books can count towards ‘professional development’. That is good news! But now I have another problem – decision-making! So hit me with your book recommendations: have you come across anything good lately that I should add to my list?

Reluctantly, though, I’ve had to conclude that I wouldn’t cope too well with being wealthy. It’s a shame, because obviously that was my long-term goal in life (isn’t that why we all got into Classics?). I may have to give up on that ambition and focus on Power and Influence instead.

Continuing the theme of good-but-also-bad news, this week I’ve been continuing with Comfort Classics but cutting down on the number of interviews. I’m certainly not stopping them – I’d love to keep the series going for as long as I can, and it would be brilliant to hit 100 interviews – but it’s time to scale back, just a bit, to make room for other things (I have Thoughts about Other Things…). Thank you so much for all your lovely comments about what the series has meant to you – I will pass those on! It’s been just as much a pleasure for me, over the last fifteen weeks.

This week I talked to Andrew Parkin, Keeper of Archaeology at one of my favourite museums, about a sculptural relief from the North of England. I also talked to Andrew Sillett from Oxford, who was championing Cicero – because, let’s face it, Cicero would really hate to be left out of the Comfort Classics line-up. Finally I interviewed Ryan Stitt, an officer in the US Air Force who is the creator of one of my favourite classical podcasts, about his early experiences of Greece – and blue monkeys!

I have some great interviews lined up for next week too, so do keep checking in!





This week from around the Classical Internet




Hidden Byzantine church – Greek Reporter

Roman coins at a racecourse – Clacton Gazette

Celtic hounds at risk of export –Gov.uk

Classics book sale (10 July) – In Medias Res 



Comment and opinion

Caesar’s prose – Ad Astra Per Mundum 

Toppling monuments, by Verity Platt – Scientific American 

Beginnings and endings – Classically Inclined

Researching online communities – New Classicists

Take two – Sphinx

Lost Greek drama – Institute for Classical Studies 

Nero, Dido and Virgil – The Philological Crocodile

Classics in Arabic – Greco-Roman Legacy in Egypt

Tiberius and the ‘phantoms of liberty’ – The Spectator 

Dionysus and Harry Styles – The Queer Classicist 

Othering and Smothering, by Lucia Nixon – Everyday Orientalism 

Two rustic offerings – Blogging Ancient Epigram

Nero: Emperor and Antichrist – CUP Blog

The Capitoline Sappho – Variant Readings

Donald Russell – a memoir – The British Academy 




From Classical Studies Memes for Hellenistic Teens




Podcasts, video and other media

The Greek Chorus – TORCH Oxford 

Helena Augusta’s Roman faces – BSR

The Roman navy in Britain – History Hit

A day at the gladiatorial games – Ancient History Fangirl 

Phaedra to Hippolytus – Latin Poetry Podcast 



From Classical Studies Memes for Hellenistic Teens

2 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: A Nice Problem to Have

  1. There’s a rather neat statement on Classics and wealth by Angela Hobbs in a TLS (23/03/07) that, “It is sometimes said that the point of serious study of Classical cultures is to enable you to despise the wealth that such study prevents you from acquiring”.


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