Why I haven’t been posting on my blog

I had all the best intentions. I was going to post regular on my –

[‘Mummy, is my porridge ready?’ ‘No, can you get ready to do Joe Wicks, it will be ready when you are done.’ ‘Don’t want to do Joe Wicks.’ ‘You need some sort of exercise. If you don’t do Joe Wicks, I’ll have to take you for a long walk later.’ ‘Fine, I’ll do Joe Wicks but it’s so unfair. This is the worst day of my life!’ *loud stomping*]

blog. I was going to write about the links between Covid-19 and the history of wartime medicine. I was going to write about the militarisation of medical language. I –

[‘Mummy! He’s pushing me!’ ‘I’m not! She’s getting in my way!’ ‘For goodness sake! You stand there; you stand there. Face the television and watch what you are supposed to be doing!’]

was going to keep a daily diary, an outlet for my anxieties, a record of the social history of –

[‘Right, you go have a bath and you go practice your piano.’ ‘But he always has a bath first and do I have to do my piano?’ ‘I want to do my piano.’ ‘Fine. You do you piano and you have a bath.’ *5 minutes later* ‘That’s enough water! Please can you do that again – and don’t rush this time.’ *dramatic sighs all round*]

corona virus, a boon to future generations of historians.

But of course it hasn’t happened. Partly because –

[‘Are you out of the bath? Dressed? Right, come do your piano please while your brother has a bath.’ ‘No!’ ‘You need to do your piano practice.’ ‘Want to do it later.’ ‘No, you are going to do it now.’ *stomping, followed by discordant banging on the keyboard over the sound of running water*]

not a lot of what I have to say feels very original. The comparisons with the 1918 flu –

[‘Time to get out of the bath, please.’ ‘What work do I have to do?’ ‘Do I have to do writing?’ ‘I don’t understand this maths.’ Can I work in my bedroom?’ ‘Not if you are going to listen to Harry Potter while you work.’ ‘But I work better listening to things.’ ‘Mummy, is strange a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, or preposition?’ ‘Go get you dictionary and look it up.’ ‘No! Why do I have to! This is too hard! I hate you!’ ‘Are there 180 degrees in a right angle?’ ‘I can’t answer you both if you talk to me at the same time!’]

have been relentless, and the subject isn’t really my area of specialism. Discussing the resilience of medical caregivers –

[‘Can I make coffee?’ ‘Go on then.’ ‘Mummy, what does this mean?’ ‘What does what mean?’ ‘This.’ ‘Which one are you talking about? Show me.’ ‘This one!’ ‘Which of these sentences is an example of a modal verb? Hang on, let me check what a modal verb is.’ ‘Here’s your coffee, Mummy.’ ‘Thank you, sweetie.’ *spends the next five minutes wiping up spilled coffee grounds, dripped coffee and biscuit crumbs* ‘What’s for lunch?’ ‘Soup.’ ‘Don’t want soup, we always have soup, why can’t we have pasta!’ ‘Because I can’t get pasta from the shops.’ ‘It’s not fair! I never, ever get what I want and you always get what you want!’ ‘Please just get on with your work.’]

feels unnecessary with all the articulate voices of medical caregivers bearing moving witness to that resilience. Yes, there will come a time to –

[‘I’ve finished my worksheets.’ ‘Have you done BBC Bitesize?’ ‘But the internet isn’t working.’ *checks internet connection* ‘Yes, it is, you just have to wait for the page to load.’ ‘Stupid computer! I hate you! – Oh, now it’s working.’]

unpick the meaning of heroism as it has been applied to key workers, but I’m not sure that it has come yet. And as for my own stresses and strains –

[‘I’m hungry!’ ‘Fine, I’ll get lunch. Can someone lay the table, please?’ *I lay the table* ‘If you’ve finished, can you put your dishes in the dish washer, please?’ ‘Do I have to? She’s not doing it!’ ‘She will do it when she finishes her fruit.’ *dramatic sighs* *I clear my dishes, wash up the cooking utensils, wipe down the table*]

I’m certainly not the only parent struggling to balance working from home, home school and keep my family fed and exercised. I am not the only –

[‘What do I do now?’ ‘Have you done Duolingo? Typesy?’ ‘Yes, yes.’ ‘Please can you tidy your room? Yes, you can listen to Harry Potter.’ ‘Where’s Dad?’ ‘He’s in the office, recording a lecture. Please don’t go in there – did you hear what I said? What are those things attached to the side of your head?!’ ‘Ears?’ ‘Well – use them!’]

struggling with anxiety about how to support my children’s mental and emotional health when they can’t see their friends, when I don’t know if they will be able to go back to school this year, when plans to visit family, both in the UK and in the US are indefinitely on hold.

And then there is the fact –

[‘I’ll take them for a bike ride.’ ‘Great. Have fun.’ ‘Mum, Dad’s taking us for a bike ride.’ ‘Yes, he told me, have fun.’ ‘Mummy, we’re going on a bike ride.’ ‘Yes, I know.’ ‘Where’s my helmet?’ ‘Where are my shoes?’ ‘I need socks, don’t I?’ ‘Do you really want to cycle in that skirt?’ ‘Have you seen the bike shed key?’ ]

that I am still at work. I am fortunate in not having had to scramble to put teaching on-line the way many of my colleagues have, but I have been supporting post-graduate students –

[‘Has the mail come?’ ‘I haven’t seen the mail man since you last checked the mail ten minutes ago.’ ‘I’m going to check anyway to see if my Beano has come.’]

who are anxious about funding, who can’t access vital archives, who are on the verge of submitting their dissertations and facing the prospect of remote vivas. I am still revising –

[‘What do I do now? I’m bored.’ ‘Why don’t you read a book? No, not one of your Beanos.’ ‘I don’t know what to read!’ ‘Fine, let’s go to your room to see if we can find something in the dozens of books on the bookshelf.’]

a REF impact case study, still working with a colleague to get the manuscript of a long-standing edited collection submitted to the publisher, still supervising –

[‘Mummy – he pushed me off the swing!’ ‘Mummy – she won’t let me have a turn on the swing!’ *sounds of conflict from the garden*]

my funded research project (although making very slow progress with any of the actual research myself). So I’m not getting very much writing –

[‘Can I watch television?’ ‘In five minutes.’ ‘But, Mum – !’ ‘Five minutes!’ ‘Mum, can I watch television?’ ‘Okay, okay, fine, watch television.’]

done, not even the book proposals I’m supposed to be writing, let alone anything else. Which is why I haven’t posted much on this blog.

[‘Mum, what’s for dinner? I’m hungry!’]

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