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!
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
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