This blog will comprise a collection of ephemera, mess and miscellaneous artifacts reflecting on the writer's life.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Four things meme

Yes! I have risen to the challenge.
I am very excited about this as it is my first ever meme and Dr Joolz has kindly let me do it after Anya, the queen of memes (that rhymes and it is only 8.30 in the morning and 2 kids are still sick.)
4 places I have lived:

4 Fave Movies
Love and Work (Goddard)
Hannah and Her Sisters
Brokeback Mountain
My Private idaho

4 favourite items of clothing
shirt dress Zara (£19.00 bought in sale)
shoes Pollyanna (no price information available)
Jacket Pollyanna by Paul Harnden
my bustle skirt

4 fashion mistakes
my purple shoes
my too short skirt
Gap brown crochet shrug (not pictured)
Boden twin set in brown (ditto)

4 favourite albums
When the Rose Bloom Again Laura Cantrall
Soul Journey Gillian Welch
Essence Lucinda WIlliams
Rough Music Eliza Carthy

4 favourite train rides
London to Sheffield
Sheffield to Rotherham
Glasgow to Mallaig
London to Paris

4 favourite restaurants
Thyme cafe Sheffield
Mangal Arcola St Dalston
Belle Epoque Stoke Newington
Moro Islington

4 jobs I have had
till operator University of Kent
lingerie sales woman at Harrods
j'etait standardist a Paris (answering the telephone)
literacy tutor at Holloway Prison

4 favourite shops (god I am shallow)
John Lewis Sheffield
Fenwick Canterbury
Pollyanna Barnsley
Diverse Islington

4 favourite academic books

Gunther Kress Before Writing
Gregory Bateson Steps to an ecology of Mind
James Gee What Video Games have to teach us about language and literacy
Mary Douglas Purity and Danger

4 favourite books
A Long Way to Verona
The Wonder Spot
The Pursuit of Love
Cold Comfort Farm

4 favourite smells
My daughter's current perfume (Prada?)
Cooking banana bread
sea side
hot roses in summer

That's it. I'm done.
Now I am going to do A2 (Preparing materials for lectures)
I will mark this as B1 support for research as obviously it was very important and came before everything.
Thank-you Dr Joolz!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Creative mess

I have writtten before here about the importance of recognising mess in creativity. Anya to my relief is being messy in her work, and I think it is very important to let things get into a kind of jumbly state and then slowly sort out the threads.
This week I have to do a Transparency Review for where I work which means neatly putting in what I do Hour by Hour by category of thing (research, teaching etc etc).
So far I have done this:
8.00 Ascertained that 2 kids were sick and placed them in front of TV with dressing gowns porridge etc.
8.20 Emailed student who poured wine over other student's dissertation (nameless both) and emailed Dr Joolz to say am willing to slavishly work on our joint chapter.
Made green tea.
Worried about blog
Fed cat
9.00 phoned both schools to report kids sick.
9.30 spent hours printing and photocopying articles for colleague I deeply admire in the US who wrote this brilliant book (rave rave)
10.00 Spent hours trying to understand Transparency review rules and then printing off categories.
This is only up till 10 and even regular blog readers will be yawning by now.
The point is that this is also NOT what I did.
I actually was thinking vaguely about homey touches, home ethnography, why I find it so hard to leave homes, how I did not manage to follow up a field visit, OR learn Turkish, and whether you can apply habitus to mess.
Thank god 1 child and ALL THE SYLVANIANS
went to school.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Maths is pants

This must be the coolest blog in the whole universe.
Go and see.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I'm sure I could write the book, which I wrote about yesterday, is essentially a labelling system.
One of our ideas in this project is that the families write their own labels to describe their artefacts in relation to narratives of migration.
If you look at this exhibition, you realise that young people have been encouraged to write their own labels, as here.
I liked this label because you could hear their voices, discussing the artefacts.
I loved reading in this book about a British museum project whereby very objects found just outside the museum in the street were carefully written up in special label language beside Egyptian artefacts, as being important and worthy objects.
Here are some examples of the labels:
A. Aluminium capped, machine moulded glass bottle in generalised form of fruit with embossed surface simulating peel.
B. Polypropylene capped, machine moulded clear glass bottle with wide mouth disguised with polyvinal chloride, shrink sleeve decorated with six-colur printing. Adapted to rubbish container by last user - contains empty crisps packet.
M. Vacuum-formed polystyrene throw-away stacking cups with rolled lip. Coloured beige to match a variety of possible contents

(Hooper-Greenhill 2000:141-2).
Now I must go and wash up:
C. Ceramic mug with England logo on it purchased at last minute in pound shop by anxious father of 16 year old for her birthday tea party in absence of any other option.
I would love to write my own labels.
What would this label say?

Friday, January 27, 2006

When it comes to acting up

Anya is thinking about everyday literacies and blogging and Dr Joolz thinks about this too.
There has also been an on-going discussion in blogging worlds about identity and blogging. Does it matter what we say or are we just acting up?
Anya is thinking about our favourites as a kind of identity marker.
The founder of which Dr Joolz is raving about, has figured out, according to Clay Shirky, that it celebrates,
the social value of labelling. Any one person's labels are messy, and inconsistent and partial...However, if there is a way to aggregate those labels, they become more valuable than formal systems

Read more about it here.
By labelling the world, we give it meaning.
Blogging is also a kind of labelling process.
I am interested in blogging as a kind of habitual activity, part of one's daily routine, linked into life.
One of the things about the blog is that it has linked itself both to the spaces and places I have been to, and also to the music I have listened to on my ipod.
It has sort of followed me around as an artefact of identity.
It has also acted a space where I place all the experiences I have.
It also acts as a space for visual stuff.
here is a hoodie in a wood.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fake Tales of San Francisco

This is my next destination.
Here are some museums I can see there.
These images remind me of a book I am reading which is about museum identity, called Re-imagining the Museum:Beyond the Mausoleum.
Witcomb argues that the museum is an institution caught up in nineteenth-century origins.
if you look at the San Fransisco museums, you can see that they have this kind of classical architecture, important building kind of thing going on.
Andrea Witcomb argues here, however, that rather than see museums as bad objects, we need to see museums as a site from which to theorise change.
Rather than retain their status as repositories of important valuable, old and classical objects, they can open themselves up to irrational, complex and popular spaces.
I am continually surprised how open museum curators are to this, and how willing they are to place miscellaneous, and complex objects within their collections in a disruptive manner.
Like this item.

Echo through the room.

Museums can make mistakes however. David tells us that the Natural History Museum don't want the whale after all - see his comment.
Who says commenters don't have status?
They are like the general public, invading the space of the blogger, who like the museum curator, has to find room for them.
Perhaps we need to recognise fake tales for what they are.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

He talks of San Francisco, he's from Hunter's Bar

Love it.
here are some more Flickr images

Originally uploaded by ukwarwickdood.
I love this image of Rotherham.
There is something about the light I really like.

Here are some more.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Let me tell you my problem

you're not from New York City, you're from Rotherham.
Today celebrates this band.
Go and buy it now as it is in the shops.
PS You can read about the whale artists here.
They look really interesting.
But I think the whale is going to the Natural History Museum according to the Guardian today.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ways of seeing

The whale, now dead, has now become art, according to David who I met last night.
His friends will make it into an art-object, strip it down and display it.
How do we then view the whale?
As art in the making?
John Berger is this week's obsession.
In this book,
he writes about how representations of animals in distant cave paintings:
All the drama that in later art becomes a scene painting on a surface with edges is compacted here into the apparation that has come through the rock to be seen. The limestone opens for it, lending it a bulge here, a hollow there, a deep scratch, an overhanging lip, a receding flank.
When an apparition came to an artist, it came almost invisibly, trailing a distant, unrecognisably vast sound, and he or she found it and traced where it nudged the surface, the facing surface, on which it would now stay visible even when it had withdrawn and gone back into the one.

So where is the whale in this?
Is the whale just spectacle, watched like the eclipse here,

or will it be transformed by these artists into something new - Steve says here that art is about making something new from the inside?
Watch this space.
PS David is doing a gig here. It will be wonderful, I promise, and Eliza Carthy is also playing who is fantastic.
I will be in Barnsley, doing this project but that will also be very exciting.
Anyone in London, you should go.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Whale rescue below Battersea bridge

The whale ofcourse has united all Londoners in a fervour of whale watching, emotional trauma (it died) and yes, photography.
This is a lovely photo and I really like the curves and the spaces.
My daughter was on a bus going over Waterloo Bridge, and people saw the whale from the bus which is a very exciting thought.


is hard and sometimes it all feels too much.
But there are flowers at the end of the staircase.
Thank-you to Ann for my lovely flowers.
This post is also thinking about photographs as symbolic artefacts, standing for emotional states.
In Eng Lit this was called pathetic fallacy, I don't know why.
On Flickr there are lots of images of emotions
Go and see here and here and here.
(Loads of grumpy toddlers who actually make me laugh)
I love the way the tags throw up complex emotional spaces.

P.S. I have fallen in love with the South Yorkshire Flickr group
(sorry Sheffield but I am a Rotherham and Barnsley girl too)
They take such brilliant photos.
See here.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


to Sheffield is a meditative experience.
Here is a nice river (between Derby and Leicester don't know what)

After Derby it gets a little hilly.

This spire is rather crooked.

Here is Sheffield,

and here is my favourite view once more, to remind me why I came.

Yes, Its the M1 again.
The music?
Have you heard of Patty Griffin. She is amazing.
Impossible Dream is Fab.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The journey to Sheffield

is fun. Normally I take this bus,

kindly provided by Ken Livingstone and bendy, then go through Newington Green

which I have talked about here before getting to King's Cross St Pancras which is having exciting new works so we can link up to Paris.

At this point this will be the soundtrack probably.

Run out of space. Sheffield tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

contested artefacts

I thought I would do a post on artefacts that occupy liminal or contested spaces.
They might also lie in a third space, between domains.
First off is my ipod.
I bought it in a fit of post-Christmas pique (no one gave me one alas) thus adding to my considerable overdraft.
Then I had to rely on my 13 year old to do itunes etc etc.
Next thing is, I get on the train and I discover that despite clear instructions I do not have Laura Cantrall and Lucinda Williams loaded on (or not much).
Instead I have Babyshambles, Anthony and the Johnsons and Gorillaz on this ipod.
It has moved into a different wholly alien domain.
This is v. annoying but also interesting.
Other contested artefacts in homes?
The Argos catalogue and the electric chapati maker.
Watch this space.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


are visual scavengers.
That is what the man in Jessops said he thought artists were.
I like this.
It gives the impression of artists working amongst visual stuff, taking what they need to transform new material.
I was also very grateful because the Jessops man found a new lead for my camera so I can once more snap and blog.
Here is the M1 again, my favourite road.

My view of artists?
I think they are fast academics.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


is marvellous and I disagree with Simon Charlesworth who described it as a place of depressing post industrial landscapes and depressed people.
Au contraire.
Here is a cheerful Rotherham taxi driver.

Here is the town centre, and lots to look at.

Here is the wonderful river Rother

and here is the magical post industrial landscape

with the wonderful M1 slicing right through it.

Where is this?
Dr Joolz will know.

The stuffed animal, ofcourse, came from Clifton Park Museum, in Rotherham.

Monday, January 16, 2006


is dead. This is a huge relief to me.
I have never liked it as it denied the messy person an opportunity to revel in miscellaneous piles and stuff.
Luckily these architects agree with me.
This is what The Sunday Times says about them:
Rejecting the usual architectural solutions of tidiness and uniformity, they believe people should be encouraged to customize their homes.
(Sunday Times 15.1.06)
Even better is their name (FAT).
Also, they are interested in the relationship between architecture and narrative.
As the article says, this is architecture that tells stories.
This gets me back to my unwritten book The Untidy House, which, ofcourse is homage to my favourite ever book, The Tidy House which is all about stuffed animals and homes.
I love it.

This is a nice animal.
Where do you think it was taken?

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Originally uploaded by creviazuk.
Thanks to Creviazuk for this lovely image.
Sometimes being a Londoner you want a walk, but actually I also like the urban walks through the city you can do.
Yesterday I walked through the squares of Islington, watching people.
(Then I went to the sales but that is another story).
Iain Sinclair writes about walking through the city as does de Certeau.
You can look at things with a different eye, and view the world as someone both part of and yet not part of the landscape.

One of the things I like about going to new places is walking through them, discovering the landscape.
Rotherham tomorrow.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


to all my wonderful students who got their MA in literacy and language in education yesterday.
I wanted to sprinkle golden fairy dust on everyone and tell them they were marvellous.
Here is a visual image of one of my students getting her degree, by a computer based artist:

fairy dust

Friday, January 13, 2006

Finding a place

Starting a new research project is always scary, you don't know where to start.
Here was a good place this afternoon.
This exhibition is so wonderful.
Did you know that this exhibition is coming to Sheffield?
Well you do now.
The social history collections are very interesting.
I really liked these.

Thank you to Sheffield social history collections and particularly to Kim who, like me, thinks narratives and artifacts are marvellous.
More exciting things to think about.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What is on the walls

Inspired by Guy I thought I would do a mini research project on what is on the walls in our house.
Having received ethical clearance, I can now begin.

Sylvanian poster

Note the arrangement of animal-like objects on this wall poster.
But beside it is this image, gouged out of plaster.
What does it signify?

Here is a small ancient inscription.

I might need to do an ethnographic interview and crystallize my data.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

so exciting

starting my new research project.
Yesterday we met Zahir who has a wonderful website here.
And here is our project, listed alongside twenty others.
That's all I have got time for today.
For now on the blog will be conducted between Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield and occasionally I will surface in London and post.
Watch this space!
PS here is another Rotherham blog which will give a totally different but also interesting image of the town.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

narrative and artifacts

This is the subject of my paper which has just been published here.
I am obsessed with the relationship between narrative and artifacts, some would say unduly.
This started when I watched in homes, how objects (sometimes these were in glass cabinets) were taken out, and showed to me in relation to long-term family narratives, spanning generations.
These narratives then sedimented into texts and became handed down further.
This is why the focus on objects in glass cabinets became so interesting to me.
I also observed how these oft-told family narratives were take up by children and merged with their interest in digital texts and I have written about these texts here.
This is one of the key themes of this blog and I write about it again here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

the narrative

Today I am thinking about narrative.
Go here first.
Here and here are some journals I didn't know about.
Fantastic that I can find out about Turkish oral narrative here.
We went to the House of Dreams exhibition at the Serpentine on Saturday and lay, enclosed, on white beds, looking up at images of birds, trees and horses.
After a white, we went into trance like state.
Looking out over Hyde Park I watched a woman in furs walk through the cold tree scape.
People were scattered between the trees and we lay and watched them on our white bed.
You can find out about the Kabokovs' work here.
They let us bring our narratives to their installations.
Just as we brought our narratives to Hyde Park.
snow 005

Sunday, January 08, 2006

the recipe

Recipes are marvellous things to read and swap.
Here is a wonderful French recipe blog.
Dr Joolz and I have been swapping recipes and I turned to the blogging world for some great recipe blogs.
This one sets out the process visually.
This one has lots of yummy chocolate.
There are so many wierd and wonderful recipe sites I don't know where to start.
I love swirl's food photos. Go and have a look.
Here is a fab recipe site brought to you courtesy of Kopaylopa.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

sensible footwear

Are these:
-- A trio from the U.K. They specialize in what they call feminist guerrilla comedy. They're vintage Brit cabaret circa 1981.


Opinion is divided on the subject of these shoes.
Some people obviously would like them for practical reasons.
If you go here you can see what I mean. Hills and such-like.
But this is an aesthetic and also political debate.
My friend Anna adores them and says they are Sensible Footwear, giving a mid eighties vibe to our rather post-structuralist world.
Dr Joolz says they are arty (she always says the right thing)
and my cousin Bill says they are hand made and therefore good.
But others, notably Molly, don't like them as they do not have a very girly feel.
Isabel (who is 16 today) does like them.
Martin of course doesn't like them.
What do you think?
It all depends on what kind of feminist you are.
Post or mid eighties.
You decide.
PS Barney took the photo. He is neutral on the subject.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Yes! We have wireless.
And my lap top was sick and had to be de-virused.
Mike from this company has mended it.
For a while all our BT settings went haywire but now they have settled down
and Mike has just helped connect up the DS and unglitched the sound from my computer.
There seems to be a process by which the more complicated stuff we have the more glitches emerge.

For a break go here and read about string. So restful.
Even better is chaos theory here.
Back to mess and muddle.
Like Dr Joolz I am wading through treacle here.
Time for a break.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

the miscellaneous pile

I have argued here about the importance of the miscellaneous pile.
One of my informants complained that while other people seemed to have a sense of order she was left with miscellaneous piles.
I feel the same way.
Today, my desk looks like this.

I am simultaneously trying to write a chapter with Dr Joolz (third space theory watch this space) plus my encyclopaedia article (not yet done alas) plus write a letter about a workshop series and fill in my daughter's Oyster card form.
What is one to do?
In times like this, I turn to Gregory Bateson who says this:
there are infinitely many muddled ways, - so things will always go toward muddle and mixedness.

What I love about this is that Bateson realises that muddle is more.
It actuallly expands and is a kind of affordance.
Tidiness is only a constraint.
It is often thought that muddled thinking is a bad thing, but I realise, particularly working with artists, that it can actually be quite good and lead to new insights.
This cheers me up and luckily this person has the same problem.
That's the end of my thinking posts.
If you want more on thinking go here.
It will blow your mind.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Thinking visually

One of the really interesting things about the artists and museums project I am doing is that artists really seem to think visually.
They seem to work through ideas in images, just instinctively knowing what is right and what isn't.
You can know if someone sees things in the same way that you do.
I am totally fascinated by this, that artists have this visual knowledge
but when I thought about it, I realised I was being a bit of a voyeur, peering into that space.
It felt intrusive.
I wasn't sure what to do with the knowledge I had.
Perhaps the process of laying bare the brain is too dangerous.
I love the shuttered faces of people thinking here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What thinking looks like

You could say it looks like this,
But I think it looks more like this
Thanks Michele!

Monday, January 02, 2006

tunnels of thought

This year's first post is inspired by the concept of patterns in the snow.
Also tunnels of thought.
The idea of our thoughts moving through tunnels, always moving but also recursive.
This idea was thought up in the car on the Dorset run, after new year spent with Christian by the fire in ancient arm chairs,
both of us complaining about our hips, and considering patterns and shapes in life.
This is also to celebrate the New Year
and my new year's resolution which is obviously to be this.
Happy New Year everyone!