I spent rather more of the day than I intended watching a somewhat epic game of tennis. Andy Murray displayed real tenacity and considerable talent such that he really did give the world number one a run for his money. Over nearly five hours they both worked so hard it was a shame someone had to lose, and while today wasn’t Murray’s day I hope it might just be his year to shine. I trust his new coach Ivan Lendl was proud, and will continue to push him to raise his game. Having the right coach can make such a difference. But as I said, I wasn’t actually supposed to be watching the tennis.
After a heavy load of marking, and prior to the new semester’s teaching starting on Monday, I had one of my least productive days working from home. I can’t just blame the tennis. It’s hard to believe how I wrote nearly all my PhD thesis from home – I seem to have lost the knack of getting down to hard work from home unless there is an imminent deadline as there was with all the marking. There are papers I want to rewrite and preparation I could very usefully be doing but no-one is holding me to it.
I really appreciated the support from my supervisor and key friends while I was studying for my PhD. He very rarely directly pushed me, but just knowing that I wanted to have achieved something by our next monthly meeting really helped me to keep going. Generally he was very encouraging, seeing the best in my work and suggesting ways round various challenges which came up. I guess I wasn’t a difficult student to supervise – some of my own dissertation students seem to be avoiding me which isn’t a good sign. I’m not expected to chase them, but I have sent a few emails, even during the tennis today.
I think it’s a good thing to be accountable to someone in other areas of your life as well as work. I’ve appreciated friends in the past who have challenged me about things and I miss this a bit now. I’m not sure my current obsession with the BBC Sherlock series is quite in proportion with other things in my life. Even now I’m wondering if it will be too late to watch an episode before I go to bed. After finishing the first series of the Danish crime drama The Killing I’m taking a break before getting into the second series. I know it’s good quality television but it’s not exactly uplifting. Someone said about focusing on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Hmm. Benedict Cumberbatch may fulfil a number of those but I’m not sure that’s quite what Paul was intending…
I had a few hours earlier where I thought my iPhone had stopped working. My reaction was not the best, and while I am relieved to find that I can reset it without having to reinstall everything, I’m not convinced we have an entirely healthy relationship. My plan to use it on the bus has been going well, and I’m managing to keep up a regular Bible reading plan as well as checking Facebook and Twitter. I’ve been using iBooks to read some of the original Sherlock Holmes stories which have been interesting. Not all Sherlock stories on the internet are quite so quaint, but actually even the original stories feature some very jarring portrayals including Tonga the cannibalistic dwarf in The Sign of Four. Unsurprisingly such characters, along with the Mormons and Ku Klux Klan have not been included in the BBC’s modern day adaptation yet. I know the writers are accountable to someone, even if not to me (or perhaps to the Casino Royale screenwriters).
But kicking up a storm on Twitter, which I demonstrably failed to do with my last blog-post, is probably not the best use of my time or my writing talents. I decided that writing about accountability would be a better aim, and while I probably haven’t been as inspiring as I would like, I have tried to be a bit honest. We don’t all have a John Watson to keep us in line and in milk and to push us to be a better human being, to give us disapproving looks when we treat someone too harshly or to tell us not to take stupid risks. I’m not sure confessing to the internet has quite the same effect as other forms of confession, but perhaps it’s a start.