The New Normal

Image of me at Chester
Belt and braces with my PPE

As I get myself ready to get back into the classroom, the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t seem to be slowing down. As I type this the North East is rumoured to be going into a fuller lockdown. The Liverpool City region is also close to the following suit. This is offset by rising figures of people catching the virus and the so-called world-class test and trace system seemingly in disarray. 

It is always with trepidation that I start a new term. Years have gone by where I have said that I wouldn’t want to start teaching again. That would explain my current freelance situation. The anxiety is heightened by the so-called new normal 

Since 2015, I have been trying to extract myself from full-time lecturing, but with little success so far. In 2018, I went freelance and I have been working at BIMM, Salford and I returned to an old job at Chester, last year. Given the current pandemic, many things have changed and have made the whole process of lecturing less of an enjoyable experience. The classroom stuff I enjoy, but the endless admin is a total bind these days. 

I will be working in several different places again next year. So far, the race back to work is chaotic, to say the least, some timetables have not been revealed despite being two weeks away, some take a lot of deciphering, especially with the blend of online and in-class teaching. This is offset by seeing colleagues wearing visors for their teaching sessions. That takes some getting used to. 

The uncertainty about campus life as a result of the pandemic is also stressful at the moment. Each day something shifts with regards to that. So that adds to the uncertainty. 

Today Sunday, I have been up since 6 am and have been working a full day just to get on top of things. Tomorrow I’m back teaching so hopefully that will go okay. It does feel like a roll-on Christmas sort of vibe at the moment. 

Going Downhill Fast

An empty classroom
The calm before the storm – an empty classroom awaiting students

It’s back to the day job today. Well, not the teaching, but the prep. There’s a lot of that to get through. It feels like summer is well and truly over. Despite what’s going on in the world with the pandemic, it’s been a good summer for me personally and professionally. I have redrafted one novel and another one has been completed, drafted, and ready to submit to publishers. I submitted a book proposal for something else. 

I’m ready for that for the next project. I’m undecided what it will be, but think it should be about the music which has been neglected because of other things that I have been doing. I have still to finalise my work timetable but I’m hoping that there is enough time cleared for the other things that I want to do. At the moment it’s time to take stock this week and put some plans into place. 

This time of year always brings with it the new starts to term and the endless possibilities. It also brings the sleepless nights and the worry about the new term and how that’s going to shape up. I’m at that stage. Ever since I have been lecturing, I have always likened September to being at the top of the slope and being pushed down it whether you are ready or not. That’s where I am at the moment with the new term, I have four employers and I’m a little worried about how It’s all going to fit in. It is also up the wall in terms of the timetable in most of the places. Instead of stressing myself out, I’m just going to get on with it. 

Here’s to the next year it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy old ride, here’s hoping it’s not. 

The Last Quarter

The Pennan Inn,
The Pennan Inn, where they filmed Local Hero. A summer holiday destination.

What a year it’s been, there are four months to go. No one would have guessed the way the last twelve months have gone – that’s both on a personal level and with everything that’s happened with the Coronavirus.  

I’m just getting myself back into the swing of things creatively after a week away in Scotland. I’m not haste to get back to any form of work just yet – both writing and teaching. I have some down time before I get back to the day job and I have to tie up the novel that I was editing. The last chapter needs to be edited. Then I will sit down and read through the novel as a reader, and not the writer. 

It’s certainly been quite a productive summer, I have been busy with work and other things, but I have managed to achieve a few of things that I set out to do. The lack of commute and working from home has given me more time, I’m certainly not in the mood for getting back into the old commuting routine just yet and I’m hopefully that I can put off doing that for another few months.