There is a little girl, about 4 years old, in the coffee shop, singing Disney’s ‘Once Upon a Dream’, from Sleeping Beauty. She’s singing it loudly and clearly, with the barest hint of a Swedish accent to her English. I really should sign up my own kids for some language classes…
I don’t often have to work on a Sunday morning, nor do I often choose to. When I’m in the UK, Sunday mornings are for family. My son has swimming lessons, and some weeks the whole family will go swimming afterwards. We cook a nice lunch. We see my in-laws or our friends. We try to relax after a busy week and a Saturday running errands and doing chores. Sundays are, despite the general lack of Churchiness, sacred.
When I’m away, the rules change though. I didn’t really work much on Friday because I was travelling, and I have to get ready for a big meeting this week. Partners on a research project are flying in today, and I’ve promised to have words on a page that we can discuss. I don’t mind working on a Sunday like this, because I’m very privileged to being doing work like this in the first place.
Having said that, willingness and ableness are two very different things. Look at this sofa. Look at the antler chandelier filled with fairy lights. Look at the pillows. How on earth is a woman supposed to concentrate when this luscious cosiness is calling out to her!! Take your shoes off…sit on me…curl up with a book… put away the Macbook and come to me…
So I will shake the cobwebs out of my head and order another coffee. I’ll start to put some words on the page. I’ll send a couple of emails (which will earn me brownie points as, hellooo, working on a Sunday morning!). Then, when I’m done, if the sofa isn’t filled with blonde and beautiful Swedish undergraduates, I’ll kick off my shoes and curl up with my book.
My first post in a long time is written in a quiet corner near the back of Espresso House in Gothenburg, Sweden. 3,600 miles away from where I grew up, 600 miles away from my husband and children…just a quiet little corner near the toilets, just for me.
I’m lucky that – compared to most mothers, working or otherwise – I get to do this sort of thing. It’s actually the only time I really take for myself, when I travel for work, and I get to do it not infrequently. That’s ok really. I find that when I travel I have space in my head and in my schedule to actually stop and think about bigger picture things. Who am I? Where am I? No, seriously… I don’t recognise this woman! I slept in until 9:40am! I’ve done nothing all day but shop, drink chai and read a trashy novel. It’s like being 25 again, but with creakier knees and a muffin top.
I’m not sure yet what this blog will be like, and I’ve not really lived up to its title. I think I want to write about books, because I love to read and am starting to make more time for it again. I think I want to write about the world around me, which I have to take notice of for my work as an academic, but where my thoughts are usually punctuated with lots of ‘conversely, one might argue…’ or ‘if one were to…’. I want to whinge about feeling slightly exiled but revel in a life that lacks the constricting boundaries of my youth. We’ll see where this takes me, and if I can find an authentic voice here.