It began as a blog about completing a thesis, it became a blog about everything but completing a thesis, it ended with a complete thesis.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

One Year Later (the last-but-one post… and at 1578 words, it's far too long)

Ordered as per their arrival in the comments box (ish) (see previous post):-

Was it something we said?

Whether that’s the blog-royal ‘we’ that you refer to, or not, the answer is no.

Will you still read (and pass comment on) other blogs? (Yes yes, it all *has* to come back to me)

I will read, commenting will be rare.

[Huw...] Assuming you were fairly ignorant of blogs 12 months ago, what are your overall impressions now, what (if anything) will you take away, what (if anything) did you learn? Do you have any blogging regrets? [And from the Lord…] Do a blog related post - what you learnt, whether it changed your view on anything, that sort of thing.

I was blog-ignorant 12 months ago. Blogging, I can now take or leave. At one point, probably about 6 months ago, I was spending far too much time doing the blog thing. I imagine that 'personal blogging' whilst out in the sticks is a very different experience to blogging in the city - a subtle point related to sharing social and environmental reference points with readers.

What do I take from having blogged? I regard blogs as very useful tools that can serve many various personal and professional ends. And the reason for that? The people behind them.

What did I learn? A lot. Learned stuff about myself (a bit Freudian, a bit personal development-ish - or at least 'barriers to...'). Learned stuff about social attitudes. As a massive corpus of blogs, I used to find the north American 'stay at home mom' blogs to be fascinating, peculiar and spooky. It's often hard to avoid guessing stuff about bloggers beyond what they write. It's also interesting to me to consider the massively diverse reasons for, or functions of, blogging (see previous paragraph). And as with everyone else, whilst good writing is good writing and a that is a that, there are genres of blog that I hook into more easily than others.

Regrets? A few minor ones. There were a couple of occasions earlier this year when I - yes, gentle I - should have taken more care when conversing with unfamiliars far far from here. I think I 'mis-perceived' one blogger's comfort with regards to their receiving direct questioning on sensitive subjects. Needless to say, I well and truly offended them. Not intended, not good. They hollered, I thought 'Oh b****cks' and replied, all was well again. Other than that, there were times when I wished I hadn't set out with pseudonym and there were occasions when the fairly hit-and-miss attention-deficit style of writing here was perturbing. But hey ho, it's nice to draw an arc through all of this in a way that marks exactly one year of writing. I've a mini-history of yearly cycles... horse-riding, piano lessons, NVQ witchcraft, you know how it is...

[Huw...] How will Ken react to his life no longer being chronicled do you think? Is there any scope for The Vegan Files dot blogspot? Or is he not like that? [And from Hoss…] I, too, would like to know what's to become of Ken. And are you going to South Africa? [And from Steve...] Will Ken Survive without lots of people reading about his personal life, and will he change his mind about Gabriela?

‘Kenneth Kenneth Kenneth!’… Now there’s an appealing Blairish mantra!

With Ken, I discussed these issues (very much the appropriate term!) last night.

Despite himself, I do think he will miss the quiet silliness of my chronicling his general whatnottage. I can’t imagine such chronicling not being experienced at some level of ego-boosting (not to mention 'gross ethical inconsideration' - his words). I’ve enjoyed writing about him. But then, he has made it easy for me.

Ken is aware of the weblog phenomenon, and I do like the idea of 'The Vegan Files', however, I don't think this world wide web business does very much for Our Hero. And as he would have pointed out had he not forgotten, 'But Shane, you're so much more eloquent and witty than I could ever dream of being, my chronicling just wouldn't hit the mark... and besides, I've got more important stuff to be getting on with'.

Whatever happens, Ken will continue to be Ken, but who knows, maybe not always as I/we have come to understand him (nb/ that's not meant to sound like code for 'he's gonna have a sex change').

On the Gabriela front (and my what a fine front etc etc), I don’t know what will become. Since Ken’s previous (dismissive) action towards her, she isn’t someone who I’m inclined to follow. That said, their paths are bound to cross, so... When it comes to close personal relationships, I’m entirely confident that Ken will be a very interesting character in the weeks, months and years to come.

And Hoss, South Africa is on.

Tell us where we can find you.

But my kneecaps are very important to me.

[Hoss...] What of Emma and you?

This relationship has been, and is, many things - some good, some bad. Being brutally honest, I can see ways in which each of us are ideal for one another, just as I can see ways (fewer) in which each of us are far from ideal for one another. Most importantly: we are together, by choice, and we continue to work on finding space for more quality time (not a euphemism). I'll update on this in the final post too.

[Steve...] What is the thesis about and what made you think blogging would help it?

I thought the blog, through force of social pressure, might help me to write. A naive and erroneous fool I was. The three main academic disciplines that my thesis can be related to are (in alphabetical order):- Education, Psychology and Sociology. The precise title and issues being addressed will be mentioned in the final post.

[Hoss...] What do you really do, and what are your long range goals?

What I really do, is a very small amount of teaching at a British university (if you can call it that), my PhD research is registered with another university. I also work on research projects and consultations that, in no particular order, cover the following areas: arts and cultural development, lifelong learning, school change, and social and emotional well-being.

Recent collaborators have operated out of two universities, one in the north, one in the midlands. Other recent stakeholders, funders and collaborators have included football clubs, housing associations and government departments. For the first half of 2006, most of my paid work will be with schools that are seeking to raise creativity across the school curricula (I'm very much looking forward to this).

For now, that is as much as I can say on what I do. As for my long range goals, gosh!... Thinking work-wise, as a 3-part list:-

1. Post-doc, to negotiate a happy path between academic and non-academic work
2. To develop my paid arts-based work, and thus further blur the researcher/artist distinction
3. To collaborate with existing researcher pals on shared interest projects generated by self, and them

Non-work long range goals, as a 3-part list:-

1. To further extend the social circle, or 'family of friends'
2. By my own design or orchestration, to regularly experience something close to the Christmas Day dinner scene at the end of the film 'About a Boy' (and no, that does not necessitate more frequent Christmas Daying)
3. To continually feel more and more settled - in all matters

[Steve...] Will we ever hear the Shane play for today on Radio 4?

On Radio 4, not likely. More likely to find a version of it in a 'provincial' theatre. Relationship-building and intelligence-gathering has begun towards the goal of forming a production company of like-mindeds.

[Steve...] Has Emma’s mum ever commented about reading your blog again?

Interesting question, to which the answer is no. I suspect she was probably scared off… it occurred to me that there was a good chance of her having read of the precise context in which Emma and I first ‘bedoinked’ (pron. b’doynk’d – rather than ‘bed-oinked’… nothing to do with pig sex – well, not from my perspective *frowns* *ponders*).

[Steve...] Can we see the portrait of Emma? Or even the real you? Or a pic of Ken with all his piercings? (Well perhaps not all)

I'll consider a gallery for the final post.

[Poor Steve...] Will Crewe Alexandra Football Club stay up?

For every one of the previous 10 seasons I’ve thought ‘Crewe for the drop this season’, and I’ve been wrong each time. My view this season: ‘Crewe for the drop’, along with Millwall and Brighton.

[Huw...] When you are gone, which one post would you like us to remember The Shane Blog by?

Bloody hell Huw! Funereal tone what!… In answer: At the time of writing it, I mentioned to a very good pal that this post had been pleasing – it was at times wry, at times serious and it thoroughly cast me as some kind of god-figure. It was also very close to the actual conversation (there has been occasional ‘license’). Bit of a shame that some very pleasing comments on that post seem to have disappeared (pre-Haloscan days perhaps, can't remember, hey ho).

So there you have it.

I will be back, but only once.

Much wellness to you all, and the others...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What is this melodrama? Give the man a slap, an earl grey and make sure he doesn't miss breakfast in future!

On December 20th 2004, following a chat with a good pal, I started the Shane blog - originally it was titled 'New Town, New Love, Unwritten Thesis'. I blundered into it really, not much forethought went into it. Bit of an arse that the url never matched the title - an oaf, I too can be.

Originally, I had romantic illusions of the blog being a useful device for helping me complete the great PhD tome. Truth is it wasn't. For a long time, the blogosphere proved to be a pleasant distraction from more important life-directing matters. In the past few months, I've done much less distraction. I've written and read less blog stuff, more 'other' stuff, and I'm getting interesting contract work.

I will make two more posts to this blog. The second of these will be some time in 2006 (non-negotiable!) and will be the final word on what happened to the great tome. This will mark complete Shane blog closure. If I was a bookmaker, on this I'd be offering odds of: Happy ending 11/10, Happy ending with amendments 4/7, Goddawful ending 100/1, Bullshitter never came back to make that second post 66/1.

The first post of the two posts will be made in a couple of weeks. If you've any subject matter or query/ies (however general or personal) that you would like to see featured, let me know. Otherwise, you leave it to chance - a bit like that 'NEXT BLOG >>' button in the top right hand corner, and you wouldn't want to go there, would you?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Shane sighs, shortly after hearing a BBC Radio Five Live presenter ask the nation 'Does Stanley Tookie Williams deserve to die?'

There's many things that I find amazing.
The passage of time is one of them.
Or, changes in individual and social politicking, if you want to put it like that.

I've no doubt that Stanley T. Williams has changed over the years, we can all see that - from convicted murderer to Nobel Peace Prize nominated educator. I think that's kind of besides the point though.

Anyway, the man awaits a Hollywood ending... gulp!

Now, I must switch the radio channel... my physical and mental distance from the Williams and Arnie situation was comforting. Callers to the BBC are eroding that comfort...

And then, in a moment of wryest juxtaposition, a new radio feature begins. I hear Morgan Freeman intone 'In the harshest place on earth, love finds a way...'. Beautiful eh... until he says 'March of the Penguins'.

* * *
Update I (Monday, 3:28pm GMT): '... Convicted of four murders, Williams, 51, will be executed on Tuesday unless Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger grants clemency or a federal appeal succeeds.

Mr Schwarzenegger said earlier he was agonising over the clemency request.

...Mr Schwarzenegger held a clemency hearing on Thursday and has until midnight (0800 GMT Tuesday) to make his decision.

...Williams is scheduled to receive lethal injection at 0001 (0801 GMT) at San Quentin prison, north of San Francisco.'

'The most advanced nation on earth'?

* * *
Update II (Monday 9:50pm GMT): "...After studying the evidence, searching the history, listening to the arguments and wrestling with the profound consequences, I could find no justification for granting clemency," Mr Schwarzenegger said.

"The facts do not justify overturning the jury's verdict or the decisions of the courts in this case," the governor added.

* * *
Bollocks, the most advanced nation on earth!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A brief post in which Shane evidences his preparedness for Christmas...

Marie: You remember that Jon and Dee, and Dee's daughter - Anna - will be joining us for Christmas don't you?
Shane: Yeah. How old is Anna?
Marie: About 12, maybe 13
Shane: Right
Marie: Mm, it'll seem unusual having a kid around
Shane: Yeah. (Pause) So will she - the kid - be doing present-receiving and so on?
Marie: Yeah, and we will too
Shane: Uh?
Marie: Adults can exchange gifts too y' know
Shane: (Appalled at self) Oh god! I genuinely forgot about that... it's because of all the TV ad's for kids' stuff
Marie: So you're not fully prepared then?
Shane: No
Marie: Has Alex been asking for much?
Shane: Yeah, every time there's adverts on TV it's 'I want that, and that, and that, and that...'
Marie: And your response to is?
Shane: I pour scorn on the rugged boyish toys and wait for a very pink Barbie-type thing to crop up, then I heap praise on it and say 'Oh that looks good - I'll get you that', at which point he appeals to his mother for assurances
Marie: The spirit of Christmas eh?
Shane: Absolutely. And besides, I'm telling myself that I'm doing him a favour by not heaping 'stuff' on him. After all, surely that's what guilt-ridden parents are for
Marie: (With raised eyebrow) Mm... and people with money
Shane: (With ill-hidden frown) Oh yes, and people with money.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

'Show me how it feels' she said

So after a moment's thought, I said...

Still, better to have plates than no plates at all. That'd look stupid... think 'stick-holding supremo'.

Y' know how it is.