Tuesday, 29 March 2016

MA-Ness Week 13 - A Day Late, Lists, Procrastination, Papers, Possibilities and Motivation

this weeks post it notes, a book I got from a charity shop that included a letter (at first I thought it was my inability to read it but it is because it's written in another language - dutch I think and the two cards that were also in the book. I'm up to page 101 and it is an engaging and emotional read so far...

Thanks to Easter Bank Holiday-Ness I am writing this a day later than I normally do, I spent yesterday making a conscious decision not to do anything college related and so instead concentrated on making and eating a roast chicken dinner, then watching a shonky but nonetheless entertaining  film called A Study In Terror on the Horror Channel with a gin and tonic in hand.

A film in which Sherlock Holmes played by John Neville tracks down Jack The Ripper but not before he has killed the five victims he (the Ripper that is, if they were all the acts of one person) is believed to have killed among them Annie Chapman played by Barbara Windsor fussing with her new bonnet instead of paying her dosshouse money. It was made in 1965 and so it was interesting to see how the Victorian period was portrayed then - lots of bustles, alleyways and so not all that dissimiliar to say the much more recent Ripper Street and bits of the sets looked familiar from series like The Saint.

Neville wasn't a particularly convincing Holmes for me - my favourite is Basil Rathbone closely followed by Peter Cushing. I appreciate the fact that the Jeremy Brett version is amongst the most faithful to the original stories as written by Conan Doyle, but for me there is something glorious about the Rathbone versions. Not least because they are in sumptuous monochrome, have ladies in beautiful gowns and as most of them were made in the 1940's they also include stirring speeches to fight Nazism or end titles to encourage the buying of war bonds. Plus as much as the Nigel Bruce version of  Watson is far dimmer in intellect than the Watson in the books he is such an avuncular jovial figure that I can't help but love him.

I have very fond memories of first seeing them when I was very little, and there is something about their period detail (most of the stories were set in the then modern day) and so they feature beautiful cars with running boards, ladies in impossibly stylish hats and gloves making smoking a cigarette look glamorous and unintentionally hilarious versions of London town as imagined by Hollywood. Some years back my husband very kindly bought me the restored films in a gorgeous boxset - it is beautiful and they are some of my favourite comfort viewing.

But as ever I've got sidetracked by nostalgic rememberings of watching lovely old black and white films whilst curled up on the sofa when really I should be writing about what I've been up to.

However I think motivation, procrastination and distraction are part of the things I'm struggling a bit with at the moment. Compared to my much younger undergraduate self I am so much more disciplined and usually ahead if not on schedule when it comes to deadlines but I still find myself getting distracted by tinternet nonsense when I'm supposed to be concentrating on something and reference books I enthusiastically start and get partway through then go by the wayside as I get caught up in something else. The very generous renewal privileges from the college's library don't help with this as there is no immediate urgency there to get them read and handed back.

I am almost two thirds of the way through an English Way of Death by Julien Little and just over halfway through The Art of Death by Nigel Llewellyn and I am still working my way through some Barthes, but I am finding it difficult to (if you'll pardon the pun as a photographer) focus and get tasks started and finished. Part of it is due to concern over loved ones health I think and part of it due to always having had a tangential mind. I can still remember my secondary school history teacher writing in my report that I was always going off a tangent and I guess old habits die hard.

Plus sometimes my procrastination is due to not wanting to do the task especially much in the first place (see dusting and cleaning the bathroom as that's not particularly exciting or especially rewarding) but also for fear of failure - and the longer you put it off the harder it becomes. Top of my to do list at the moment is a paper for the Victorian Representations Conference on May 13th and I have made notes, dug out some old notes I'd made on it for a previous project and had a think about it whilst tramping round the bridlepath but I have yet to sit down and actually start writing it - I will have at least started it by tomorrow evening though....

Key to success in anything though I have come to realise (and agree with one of my filmic heroes Alfred Hitchcock) is planning and preparation. Something I only half did on Thursday evening when I asked my husband if I could have my Easter present the following day. As I didn't want an Easter Egg I had asked for his help at a shoot at St George's Field, time and date to be determined by good enough weather and time off work/non relative visiting. Decided this - given the weather forecast would be best done on Good Friday and I also wanted to use infra red film. Or rather black and white film with a very low iso indeed which picks up infra red light - or at least I think it does, as ever my technical grasp of the details is somewhat hazy but I love the look of infra red images and so I would like to try and make some of my own.

Plus by asking for it as a present it also meant that I could ask my husband for help whenever I needed it rather than either feeling bad about interrupting him taking his own photos or getting impatient waiting for him to help if he was caught up in his own project. I asked him what he wanted for Easter and got it for him - he wanted a small easter egg ( I got him a Star Wars one complete with mug with R2D2 and C3PO on) but I have also offered to be his assistant on projects too.

Anyway I made a mental list of things needed: tripod, SLR that can be used fully manually as both the ISO and exposure times need to be done that way when using this film, camera instruction booklet as it's been a while since I've used that way and every camera set up whilst broadly similar is different enough to fox me on occasion,  little step (v handy for when placing skulls high up on tombs)  and props - namely skull, little skeletal figure, skeletal candles and matches (really want to try and capture the glow from the candles and apparently infra red is good for this) got appropriate filter for lens, sorted out lenses, made sure I was wearing a jacket with pockets for putting lens caps etc in and off we went.

I though he had the tripod and he thought I had the tripod and so when we got there and discovered neither of us had it I decided that in future never mind a mental list - I should make a paper list and actually tick stuff off it so that journeys aren't wasted. As it was when we got there it was full of flags, bits of tarpaulins slung across bits of the field, a gazebo and what appeared to be lots of people in bobble hats and sensible outdoor clothes ticking people off a list. We found out afterwards it was some kind of sprint running event but I'm still not sure about that as there didn't appear to be any kind of sprinting going on and hardly any running, it seemed to be mostly people waiting to be called forward to the next bit.

So I didn't end up taking any pictures as the flags etc would have ruined the views I was trying to get and without the tripod working up close with the small props wouldn't have worked either. Arse. But I did go over what bits of the route I could for the walk and talk I am doing there - but it was somewhat annoying to be told by a rather officious bobble hatted woman to stop walking along a line of graves because we would be in the way of what were at that moment non existent walkers let alone runners plus if someone was sprinting they wouldn't have wanted to be as close to the graves as we were as they would have been on the path....and I can be ditzy but deliberately walking into the path of other people is not one of my usual tricks.

Project for another weekend then....as a mix of the weather not being good enough coupled with prior commitments meant we couldn't go back again this weekend.

But I have tackled some of the smaller things on my to do lists today as in replied to some emails and checked the dates for some projects - there is a deadline of April 1st for the conference I want to submit a paper proposal too so I'd best get that out of the way before I start on the paper I've already had accepted, plus I need to write some labels and that kind of thing...I think what I need to do is get some kind of calendar gant chart malarkey so I know what I need to do when and put it on the wall as at the moment it's either in my diary (which I sometimes forget to check doh!!) or in my head and being in my head is not the safest place for it to be.

Right - best get on with my list making and timetabling....


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