Saturday, July 28, 2007

Being on the outside

This time last week I was settling happily into the meeting room at The Warehouse, home to Friends of the Earth at Birmingham. I was meeting with a group of 'Sociologists Outside Academia'.

The train journey there was a bit fraught as the deluge we had on Friday meant trains had been cancelled and suspended and right up till late Friday I was uncertain whether I would actually get on the train.

As it turned out the train arrived early, having made an unscheduled stop at Coventry (picking up another one of our group), and it looked like an unbelievably good start.

Except that a couple of people had had their trains diverted from Basingstoke/Winchester area to (believe it or not) London. One was too frail to consider completing the journey via London and gave up. The other persevered and reached us at about 2pm! Another, a wheelchair user, planned to drive from Bristol but the roads were not very friendly and decided against making what could be a perilous journey.

So it was a small group that met but we had a good time thrashing out some issues that we face as highly-trained researchers in the social sciences but for whom reasons like poor health and domestic responsibilities had prevented us from filling a full-time academic position.

It was a really refreshing time for me. Not least of all people sometimes attribute the genesis of this group to my rant in the Association newsletter about being not so much ignored as being such an anomaly at an academic conference that senior academics ensconced in their institutions did not know how to respond to my answer, "I'm a mother."

Any way we chatted about the various strategies we needed to pursue to gain recognition, to gain a foothold in independent research, to encourage senior academics to mentor us, etc, etc. and planned to organize something at the next conference so that 'outsiders' like us could feel comfortable there.

Then I made my way back to the station in good time for my train.

Nearly three hours later I was home. My husband and son picked me up from the station and the best bit was: the house was clean!

Husband promised to tidy up the house and 'my boys' had obviously been working very hard at clearing the rubbish away. I could see the floor!!!

Son, who is still struggling with his writing, managed to write a good account of what he had done with Dad while Mum was away.

I think I should go away more often.

Back to Organic-Ally.

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