It is only 2 weeks into the academic term and I am feeling a bit like Theoden, King of Rohan.

How did it come to this?

The Uruks are battering at the doors and there is nothing I can do about it! These are metaphorical Uruks people, not real ones. The plot is looking like it is going to make a bid for freedom but it ain’t lost yet…

It has been an exhausting day when the family are poorly and we are all sleep deprived from coughing or listening to coughing. As a consequence, I gave 4 hours of lectures plus 3 meetings in a daze yesterday and today I was unable to make it down to London for the RAI’s Council meeting and to meet a PhD student. I’ve tried to mention Lord of the Rings as much as possible in every class after hearing that the students are getting fed up with references to it. I’ll make them suffer!

Let’s remember, term is not only 2 weeks old and it is proving busy and fun. I’m teaching on 3 UG courses, trying to help colleagues set up two new Masters degrees, programme leading our existing Masters programmes for a bright and fun group of new postgraduate taught students. Also, I am trying to supervise undergraduate dissertations and I am supervising a Masters and PhD students who also require meetings and work reading through. Moreover, I’ve been having meetings in my roles as Research Co-ordinator for Archaeology and Isle of Man link tutor. I’ve taught more courses in a semester, and I am taking on double this number by the second half of the year, so things are only going to get busier on the teaching and admin side!

If all that wasn’t enough, I have just examined one PhD at another university which is a big job to undertake. I have a further one to examine for next month at a different university. I take these very seriously and they are a privilege to do, but still, they take up a lot of time.

How did IT come to this?

Research-wise, I am still sorting out 2 edited volumes and a special journal collection, the articles for them plus a range of other co-authored and single-authored articles. There are also one part-written book and one dormant and soon-to-be resurrected book, I need to make some headway with. Research is going well and I’m hoping to get a record 7 outputs for 2015, plus a co-edited book. Still, I need to keep the momentum going with the 13 or so articles currently submitted for publication and the c. 12-14 that I have various in prep….

How did it come to THIS?

There are conferences too. I’ve just attended one term-time conference taking up most of a weekend to save me from relaxing. I am looking forward to staffing a Saturday open day. Oh, and there is a blog I choose to write…

On top of it all, I’m editing my fifth Archaeological Journal – issue 1 of volume 173 for 2016, due for publication online this coming January. I’m on my fourth and final article for editing and it looks like a diverse and tidy first issue. Moreover, I have a rich range of articles submitted for vol. 173 issue 2 and all are now out with peer reviewers.

How DID it come to this?

On top of all of this, some git stole my bike and another tosser tried to pick a fight with me.

These are the joys of term-time academia.

I’m not complaining and the work is fun and much of it of my own choosing. I’m proud and pleased to be teaching students all manner of exciting topics and likewise the research is really exciting. There are many positive developments I have to talk about in separate blog entries but need to keep quiet about for now.

Still, it has been a tough few weeks. The term is proving to be one long dark night of siege and the Hornburg must hold!

Let’s face it, I’m good at kicking wargs in the teeth and slicing up orcs. I get paid to do so and I still have some loyal kinsman. I also have some random elves turning up despite not being invited and not actually appearing in the original book version, a hardy dwarf and even a Dunedain ranger.



Still, I really really hope Erkenbrand and Gandalf would hurry up before all hope vanishes! What would be great is to have a forest of Huorns to mop up all these tasks and crush them with their roots and branches.

Why didn’t I buy a boat ticket at the Grey Havens? Still, at least I don’t have to go as far as Mordor… There are many academic Mordors out there, and thankfully I have no ring to bear and no Orthanc to visit this term!

Ok, Gimli, off you go and blow the Horn of Helm Hammerhand. I’m riding out and those tasks are going to get sliced and ridden down, whether Gandalf arrives or not!

Fell deeds awake!

If only I can stay awake…