best intentions

Well… I started out with good intentions at least! Today has proved to be a bit of a bust. My partner woke me at 4.30am, telling me he needed to go to hospital. Thankfully, after some discussion, we agreed that he didn’t need to go after all, that he would wait and try to see the doctor at 8.30am. I tried to get him comfortable and eventually managed to get another hour or so myself, but it wasn’t really enough. As a result I’ve been struggling to stay focused more or less all day – and partner being here all day, and with him needing to be looked after, meant it has not been the most productive of days.

I managed to do some reading on my current book, Church in an Age of Danger: Parsons and Parishioners, 1660-1740, by Donald A. Spaeth. I’m not sure it was the best book to start with: my knowledge of the religious situation in the post restoration period isn’t that great – in fact, my knowledge of the religious situation post 1603 isn’t great, never mind 1660. I’ve got a lot of work to do to feel as proficient in the period 1603-1740 as I do in the sixteenth century. Having said that, its a good book. Spaeth writes well and he’s introduced some of the issues, explaining how different historians have seen the church in the period, and in the immediate period after 1740. His work is useful, too, for chasing down other historians and what they’ve written. I’m not sure I’m going to get all the reading done before the PhD proposal needs to go in, but then, there is always another book to read, a source to chase. However, what I’ve read so far has triggered some thoughts about the way that the Reformation and religious history is viewed by different historians, the different takes on the established Church. I need to do substantially more reading but it seems to me at the moment that it is a mistake to try to view religious changes in a short space of time – that it is necessary to view the changes over the longue duree – even if the focus remains on a relatively small area. I’m sort of envisioning, at the moment, clergy-parishioner relationships through time, like two boats on a river held together by a pole. Periodically one or the other of the two boats will be subject to forces, either pulling or pushing, from either side of the ‘river’, which will place the pole under pressure, and may send the boats spinning chaotically while they try to absorb the impact of the forces. Sometimes a pole snaps, and a boat sinks – to be replaced by another, but you rarely get one boat alone. Hmm. that’s a useful analogy. I may have to rememeber that one – although, of course, it is very possible that my view of it will change as I read my way through the literature.

I also did a little bit of job search today (updated my CV, that sort of thing), sent a couple of emails, and checked out an issue with a paper I have to give in November – I suddenly wondered, last night, whether you have to actually submit the written document that you plan to present at a conference to the organisers. It seems that’s not the case, but I’ve got some useful notes out of just checking it wasn’t – they’ll come in handy come September/October when I’m preparing for it. I had an email to say that an article of mine has been accepted – not an academic article, but a general one for a blog site that has nothing to do with my academic work, but I’m pleased with that. My writing is getting credited, so its all good news.

Otherwise, a friend popped around with his small son. It was good to see him, and have a chat – although more time away from the books. But I don’t mind really – today’s been such a bust that it didn’t make much difference. On another day I might have been more abrupt.

I was going to go to the Uni library tomorrow but today being such a bust means I’ve changed my mind. I’ve a routine appointment on Wednesday morning at the hospital so I’ll probably go in after that instead. See if a friend wants a coffee and a natter. I feel that I need to get out and have a chat with a fellow academic at least once a week – it helps keep the spirits up, keep the focus where it needs to be. I’m determined to finish Spaeth’s book tomorrow – that way I can look at getting some of the books that I’ve earmarked from his footnotes that I think may be useful.

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