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13 May 2015

A vignette of IATL, in the dark would (wood) 13th May 2015




 
‘You remind me,’ said the woman on the other side, ‘of Alice in Wonderland.’
I had left my belongings back in the other world, including my shoes, and crawled through a tunnel of lights into an Aladdin’s cave of pedagogy. There were no giant, talking flowers but there were: mossy pillows to stand on, the smell of purple flowers and rosemary, the feel of marbles and chickpeas scattered in a box; a large hoop skirt to reimagine ones childhood; bubbles, Lego, Play Doh, costumes and more to explore. 

I wrote a postcard, to my eight year old self,

Believe in your creativity and forge your own path.

I felt constrained by the Curriculum as it came into force in the late 1980s. They had asked us to think for ourselves then trained us how to act: realistic, practical, confined by opportunities we did not understand.

At home my existence was one of curiosity and imagination that wasn’t valid in the classroom where they recited, ‘learn this, say this, be this.’ The dark would brought back memories of those teachers, you know the ones. There was Mr Duffy who gave me insights on ecology, everything had a place in an invisible network of relationships. Mrs Richards and Mr Gartshaw encouraged that creative side in English as I experimented with shaping how I saw the world in words. Playing, exploring, poetry, botany, forming new symphonies of expression. An invaluable tool in research.
 
The experience ended too soon. Back to reality and ecopedagogy with Rachel King in the Ramphal Building. Ecopedagogy is:-

People
§      Space and Place (environment)
§      Pedagogy

Then we were walking, observing, acting, writing, and experiencing a sense of place.

I left thinking ‘I can’t wait to return to the would tomorrow.’

5 May 2015

Emma’s Red Coat - Scottish Book Trust

This month I submitted a story to the Scottish Book Trust mixing a fairy tale with my journey through the PhD. You can see my entry here.



Emma’s Red Coat - Scottish Book Trust

If you would like to know more about my work some initial thoughts are published here:-

Parfitt, E.L. 2014. Storytelling as a trigger for sharing conversations. Exchanges: the Warwick Research Journal. 1(2).

 

27 April 2015

PhD Agony



(based on the genius song "Agony" from Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim)


Did I abuse this (educational opportunity)
by showing distain?
My brain’s feeling mashed up.
I might just lose it;
tormented I’m reeling
from frontal lobe pain!


Agony!
VIVA’s out of my reach
When you’ve had an idea
Yet that idea it still defies speech


Alone at my desk
I sit by the hour
Tearing my hair
Tense and confused, frequently screaming
A song of despair
Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-                                        
Agony!
   
Caught my tongue in a draw
Trying to write is like trying
To fight Je Suis Charlie, and more


Agony!                                                     
Oh, the fees that they charge!
If I had funding…
If I had funding I’d                        

buy butter not marg. 


I’m not grammatically
savy,
fanatical,
charming,
attentive,
gifted,
as bright as the person
I’m trying to be


You are everything government bodies
could wish for.
Then why don’t

they fund you?

I really don’t know!


Professors know nothing of sadness
They have jobs and there aren’t
aren’t any jobs, as you’re
nearing the ending
you’re deadline approaching
Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-


Agony!

Unemployment!

Debt!


My life’s far from a peach                                  

If the rich had a heart                  

If the rich had a heart

I would eat it for tea


Agony!

That can sting like a lemon!

I will survive my PhD 

(hopefully)       

[please note that this is a satire of the PhD experience, based on my own experiences and those of others... not to be taken seriously... hopefully]   




14 March 2015

To be continued...




“There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this” TP


Sorry Terry, if you don’t mind me calling you that, but this is not THE END. You were a lover of words, a social commitator, and in some ways a sociologist and ethonographer. That is, an observer of the lives around you. And we had a good laugh about it all, didn’t we. Weatherwax not so much.

When I heard that death had popped by, to say hello to the great TP, my first thought was a reflection on my own insignificance. Generations of people past and present have asked one another the same question

Where were you when… ?

So a few, or hopefully a many, will be asking today and tomorrow, until we join you sitting by Cronin in a Discworld twist of Valhalla, where were you when Terry Pratchett died? Only they’ve kind of got it wrong. Let me explain why.

When I heard you had died (for the record you are my favourite author) I was at Writing Across Boundaries. If I may ask you to suspend disbelief for a moment, I was at a seminar for using creative writing skills in academic writing.

The seminar began quoting your words “If you don’t write your own story someone will write you into one of theirs” or something like that, which I think came from A Slip of the Keyboard (someone please correct me).
 
I started this blog with a picture of your last series of tweets. Writing ‘The End’, which is of course the ending to many stories, is also a beginning. As Bill Herbert said, in those final moments you wrote yourself back into story.

While I can't do the breadth of your writing justive, my response as a writer looks a little like this.

The end, types Terry.

QUESTION MARK, says Death.

I imagine the rest of the story goes a little like this…

‘The end,’ said Professor, Sir, Daft Old Fart OBE, Blackboard Monitor, Terry, man-of-words, Pratchett. He wasn’t about to take this lying down. So he sat up. ‘But is it the end?’ Pratchett asked.

Death’s blue eyes stared into the back of one’s skull as they always did. He had learnt a lot from watching humans. From those who knew they were being watched and those that did not. He was about to impart his wisdom on this subject when Pratchett added, ‘Isn’t the fact that we are here having this conversation proof that I live on?’

TO BE CONTINUED DOT DOT DOT.

‘Exactly,’ said Pratchett . ‘This is the first dot. If this is the first dot what’s next?’
Death had come across writer’s before. He knew better than to argue with them.

RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT.

‘I was raging against being a carrot,’ Pratchett tapped his head. ‘Is the old noggin fixed? Will I still have days when I put my trousers on the wrong way, lower them to the ground and shuffle round?’

CARROTS ARE REAL BUT NOT, THAT I AM AWARE, SENTIENT. YOUR CLOTHES ARE METAPHORICAL.

‘What about cups of tea and mushrooms, are they real?’

THEY ARE REAL.

‘Are they real here?’

THEY ARE REAL EVERYWHERE.

‘If I run are you oblidged to chase me?’

IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE.

‘I’m happy with my final words. I wanted to end on a high note rather than a squish. Squishes are, as a rule, hard to control. Do you tweet?’

I SPEAK.

‘Now, as I reflect on it, this not being the end, is it possible to go back and tweak my last words a bit?’

NO.

‘Fair enough. I’m ready.’

There was a moment of silence as Death adjusted his robe. A little human guesture to make people feel more comfortable , which inevitably showed quite a lot of rib cage and the endless space between them.

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?

‘My tweet. I’d like to change it to, to be continued.’

DOT DOT DOT.

‘Precisely.’

WHY?

‘It’s a more optimistic outlook.’

Death was used to looking at the world through a realistic framework. Not that there was one truth, or that everyone narrated their lives like a story. Life was complicated and messy. The only prediciatble part being that he got to meet everyone at some point. Some people’s endings were more pointy than others. Like wizard’s hats.

‘If the story doesn’t end, at The End, where does it end? The page, the reader, the death of the reader. Obviously not,’ Pratchett guestured to the body he accepted was his whether he liked it or not.

‘May be the story really ends when words are lost back into the void where everything came from. Just because it’s black doesn’t mean it’s empty, a non-colour. It is a colour. One that has form and shape, like writing on a page. When the ink runs out, when we run out and cease being, apart from the echos perhaps it all gets erased and starts again.
‘Say if all that is left of the human race, on the physical realm, is a capsule with recordings, songs, maths and pictures; accompanied by a helpful map and a place to park. If another life form follows these antique references back to Earth and discovers we’ve uprooted to Mars or died off, then is that the end?’

I DO NOT KNOW.

‘I don’t know either,’ said Pratchett.

They walked together in silence. 

There were plenty of things to quieten that silence. 

Neither of them chose to break the moment.

A man in jeans, and his favourite hat, walked with a skeleton in a robe. It sounds like the start of a bad joke. Slowly they start to become transparent; begin to look like moving outlines; skethces on a canvas; and then ___ .

Except, not entirely
[please share links to your own Pratchett stories below]