Monday, 17 July 2017

Life - An Update

You may have noticed both my blog and (to a slightly lesser extent) my social media activity has been more anodyne of late.

There are several reasons for that, but one of them is that, at the end of next month, I will be joining the civil service as a "Generalist" on its graduate Fast Stream programme. In anticipation of that, I have been slowly weaning myself off expressing views of a potentially party political and governmental nature. Call it a "transitional period" in which Graeme and the Statutory Civil Service Code are brought into alignment...

My first six-month posting is with the DWP in London, and therefore entails a change of location after spending eight years in Glasgow. I've found a place in Muswell Hill in North London, which is very nice, but will mean an adjustment and my first big move in 8 years. The Northern Line commute will be "interesting" but I'm looking forward to a change of pace and environment after spending a sustained period in academia so early on in life.

Speaking of which, the thesis is (almost!) done and I should have that submitted before I move south. Cutting a massive piece of work down to size is difficult and laborious, but does ultimately make it better and more readable. I'll need to come back up to Glasgow to sit my viva before the year is out but mentally I am looking forward to moving on.

People often wonder whether they'd do things differently if they had their time again. Had other opportunities arisen, I suspect I probably would not have gone and taken on a PhD straight after my undergraduate degree. Although it was a tremendous opportunity to be given the resources to embark on a project like that, the pressure, weight of expectation, and sheer extent of self-direction involved did at times get the better of me and contributed to mental health problems that I am thankfully now (mostly) on top of. Although the PhD itself can be a very lonely experience, the extra time at University did, I suppose, benefit me in non-academic ways. I made many friends I otherwise would not have, owned a beautiful classic car I otherwise would not have bought, and learned a lot about myself in those four years.

A couple of weeks ago, I sold my MG Midget. Unfortunately, circumstances dictate that it just would not be practical at this stage in life to keep a car, let alone one that was, shall we say, temperamental and impractical for a daily form of (mainly) city-based transport. NFA has gone to a good home, though, and I got a good stint out of her.

2017, then, has been and will be a year of considerable change. That's before I mention the passing of our stubborn family cat Mungo just before Easter at a grand 21 years of age, the arrival of my sister and brother-in-law's new kitten Merlin, my dad's new job as Presbytery Clerk that will see him and mum return permanently to Glasgow for the first time since 1991 and some sad news I'll save for another post.

Sometimes it feels like everything is happening at once, and you've not really got control of things. The last year or so more than ever has made me appreciate the importance of stability in life. Never underestimate it.

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