New Year

I feel prompted by Rick Greene’s blog – which he self-deprecatingly calls “monkish” –  to move into a fire-gazing mood myself. This is nowhere as good as his and has much less spiritual insight.

I have been gloomy about the prospects for 2017, after 2017. I am not about to retract that, or to cover up this feeling of a bad time just around the corner by suggesting we all huddle against the chill wind and “be excellent to each other.” I listen to shouting mansplaining Twitterers, to uncharitable sniping, to a rising racism and fascism and snarling polarised opinion, and part of me despairs.

But not everything has been bad this year: personal and professional setbacks should be set against the revitalised sense of purpose for my research, and my children’s successes, Maggie’s setbacks propelling us to a bit of a rethink of this stage of our lives, reconnecting with friends… It’s this first, my research, that calls for some attention this evening, just in a personal reflection as a Malbec kicks in.

No, this is not (as my recent posts have been) in praise of Lud, nor a hankering after MSS I am unlikely to revisit. The solo folklorist, the lone scholar, Pangur Ban’s monk, is not me. I am happier being pushed, challenged, learning from others. Is this laziness? Or lack of confidence? Or is it that small departments cannot always provide the clubability I now feel I need? I have bounced so many ideas off Mat and Dave this year, learned so much from colleagues like Elise and Jon, and Mary, and Mike and…and…  Odd to learn all this – or to realise I have learned it –  so late in my career.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky

And so as I set myself, tonight, for another night when I dream of being back in cool evening Gradbach, in Ludchurch (to wake to the day of the denouement of Gawain, with all its new beginnings), I have to say thank you for something I had not dreamed of: friends.

I don’t know what’s coming, I can’t make sense of much of what has happened, but friends, kindness…

Quid sit futurum cras fuge quaerere…

I’m quoting Horace. More Malbec required.

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