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, September 26, 2006

Africa II, or, Whatever happened to summer, or, ‘Discourse and the Psychological Politics of Education’

I was just about to zone out with Natalie Portman when the phone rang. At first I thought the caller was some crank. No number had been displayed on the hand-set and there was a lot of background noise. ‘Public payphone, how quaint’, I assumed. No-one spoke. Just at the point of hanging-up, there came the shout of an old chestnut.

Ken: Well done, old bird!
Shane: Oh! It’s you.
Ken: Ok, I can just about hear you, but I want you to repeat that – try sounding pleased this time.
Shane: Ah. (Louder) ‘Kenneth, my sweet! It’s you!’
Ken: Much better.
Shane: Thank you dear. The traffic is very loud.
Ken: (Shouting very loudly) Actually, this isn’t going to work – there’s too much traffic, I’ll call you from the hotel. Give me ten minutes.
Shane: Ok.

‘Oaf’, I thought. Again, the phone rang.

Shane: Hello?
Ken: That’s better. As I was saying, ‘Well done’.
Shane: Thank you again.

The Thesis, of ‘The Thesis Chronicles’

Ken: You handed the thesis in?
Shane: I did - eight chapters, many words, and a few good ideas that will no doubt have a huge cultural impact-
Ken: No doubt-
Shane: No doubt, and that will ultimately change the way in which psychologists and society as a whole really, come to consciously construct what we mean by ‘education’.
Ken: (pause) Sounds hilarious. Are you pleased with it?
Shane: I still think it’s interesting, which is pleasing. It also includes a chapter written as dialogue.
Ken: Which means what exactly?
Shane: There’s a chapter that’s a bit like a serious version of Shane and Ken, on the blog.
Ken: You mean ‘Ken and Shane’, on the blog.
Shane: I probably do, though ‘on the blog’ sounds a bit too much like ‘on the
bog’ - and that wouldn’t do.
Ken: No. Did you actually use me?
Shane: ‘Use’ you, Kenneth? Remember, there is you, and there is your name.
Ken: Alright, does ‘Ken’ appear in the thesis?
Shane: No.
Ken: Someone else?
Shane: Er, I suppose.
Ken: Who?!
Shane: Kenneth! Be calm. Your tone is unseemly – note that I am likely to use this conversation for the final blog post.
Ken: You’ve dumped me, haven’t you! “Readers - or ‘reader’ - I feel like I’ve been dumped. In my absence, he’s been dialoguing with another…” Is it a man or a woman?
Shane: It is ‘George’ – not a real person.
Ken: Unreal indeed - you have another man! The shame!
Shane: I didn’t say that George was a man.
Ken: I still feel cheated. Cheater!
Shane: (Amused) What if I said, ‘I was with dialoguing with George, but I was thinking of you’.
Ken: And what if I said ‘Shane, you can fuck off’-
Shane: Alright, that’s a bit hardcore – like I said, ‘final blog post, Kenny boy, final blog post’.
Ken: Forgive me, I saw red - ‘George’ (effects mock spitting noise). When’s the
Shane: Don’t know yet. I’ve asked that it be arranged for before Christmas, but we’ll be led by when the examiners are available – could be anything from two to six months, from what I’ve heard.
Ken: Bloody hell. Still, you’re so close.
Shane: All being well.
Ken: How do you feel?
Shane: Tired, relieved -
Ken: Relieved - maybe ‘on the bog’ is appropriate then.
Shane: That’s poor, even by your pitiful standards.
Ken: Forgive me again, I’m relaxed and I’m having fun.
Shane: Good. Say more.

Ken is having fun

Ken: Morocco is hot and sunny and not at all like London, and, (conspiratorially) I have a new friend.
Shane: Ah bless you, oh hapless wonder-boy.
Ken: Would you like to hear more?
Shane: I suspect you’re about to tell me more.
Ken: I met her on the beach. She commented on my pile of books.
Shane: Sounds sweet.
Ken: We got talking, and then I loaned her my
Bel Canto.
Shane: You’re such a lad.
Ken: We met at the same spot two days later – that was Friday. Good day all round, Friday. Spent the whole day, and the next, together. And I’m meeting her again later tonight.
Shane: A fine romance?
Ken: And some!
Shane: The term ‘blimey’ springs to mind. You are no longer a man for messing about, are you? You got over the Portsmouth fiasco quickly.
Ken: That was a… that was only ever… that… that doesn’t matter now. ‘
Ships that pass in the night’ and all that. The point is that this one’s different – in a good way.
Shane: Mm-hm?
Ken: I know it might sound a bit cringe-worthy –

Shane senses that Ken is about to spook him

Shane: I’m feeling nervous here, Kenneth, I’m sensing ‘not goodness’.
Ken: No, no, it’s fine. She’s clever, very clever – and seems totally sincere, and, get this - she looks like
Pamela Anderson.
Shane: (Sharply) Jesus Christ!
Ken: What?
Shane: I just spilled tea on myself.
Ken: My fault?
Shane: Pamela’s. Bollocks, that hurt.
Ken: Dab yourself.
Shane: I’m dabbing, Kenneth, I’m dabbing. You were saying?
Ken: What was I saying?
Shane: Pamela Anderson – doesn’t really fit with my image of ‘Morocco’.
Ken: She’s called Kim. She’s only 20-
Shane: Whoaaa!
Ken: I know. Her Dad’s working for the government – she was a bit vague, but it sounds like he’s some kind of economist. They’re Belgian.
Shane: Belgian?! Kenny, what are you doing with a Belgian, and a very young one at that?
Ken: (Laughs) Well! Let me tell you! After we met up again, we came back here –
Shane: Enough! My stomach is delicate, and a romping Kenny would be too much right now. She does sound very impressive though, and you sound happy.
Ken: I am.
Shane: Good. And very much because of a girl with political connections – interesting stuff, the sort of thing that would go down well, I imagine.
Ken: (Sniggers) Good choice of words.
Shane: Eh? Oh, vile creature.
Ken: (Amused) Enough about me – what’s next for you?

Imminent whatnot

Shane: I’m travelling back up to the
proper job tomorrow, then I’ll be dropping back into the Midlands - approximately monthly - for the arts council work.
Ken: Still busy then?
Shane: Very much so. I’ve had a couple of other jobs suggested to me, but I just want a fairly ploddy couple of months – need to recharge. It’s been a heavy summer.
Ken: But you’ll be having a break, now that you’ve handed-in?
Shane: Not properly, not yet. I’m at Emma’s. Young Alex is livelier than ever - quite sapping, though he’s becoming quite a wit. He’s good at arguing – which can be a nuisance, but it’s highly entertaining - in a ‘five year old politico’ sort of way.
Ken: Spending time with Emma – must be the first time in quite a while.
Shane: Yeah, we’ve hardly seen each other over the summer.
Ken: Trouble at mill?
Shane: Milling feeling quite unfamiliar.
Ken: Maybe a break would do you both some good.
Shane: Maybe it would.
Ken: Or a break-up?
Shane: Whoosh!
Beat not about the bush, eh?
Ken: ‘Show me the spark’, that’s all I’m saying. Choose life. Choose Morocco.
Shane: Thank you, Professor Ken, I will bear your
Baywatch-inspired teachings in mind as I ‘chase the spark’.
Ken: I’m back on the first of October, I’ll come up and see you, if you like. Are you still at the shared house?
Shane: Yeah - still sharing with the Polish chemist, Bosnian engineer and bloke from Liverpool. They’re not quite Pete and Marie, but they’re good eggs. I’ll be there until the end of the job contract - January or February.
Ken: Then?
Shane: I’ll be relocating. Don’t know where yet.
Ken: No rest.
Shane: ‘Regular positive change’.

That blogging business

Ken: So if you make a blog post out of this conversation, will that definitely be it for blogging?
Shane: In terms of ‘the thesis chronicles dot blogspot’, yes, barring perhaps a post-viva one-liner. The blog was originally set-up in relation to an incomplete thesis – that’s now sorted – ironically, part in thanks to a big break from blogging.
Ken: You did what you set out to do.
Shane: Mm, I suppose I did.
Ken: We can call that a happy ending.
Shane: ‘We’, Kenneth?
Ken: You know you sound very domineering when you talk like that.
Shane: And I think that’s a ‘Goodbye Kenneth’.
Ken: (Laughing) Good timing. I need to prepare myself - I feel that a very special evening lies ahead.
Shane: Give my regards to Pammy.
Ken: I will. I’ll let you know when to expect me.
Shane: Ok, see y’.

And that was that.

Thank you for reading, and thank you to those who left comments here in the past - they were hugely appreciated.

Good wishes to you.