Planning is a Fruitless Endeavour

Here follows a typical example of what happens when I try to get some work done to any sort of externally imposed time frame…


I needed to get some work done. I need to get some work done every day but there was a pressing deadline I wanted to meet. I left work 45 minutes late, then had just over an hour to eat and do some of said work at home before going to get Ivy from nursery. Got a bit done, but not much so decided I’d do some more in the hour before Ivy’s bedtime (CBeebies is our friend).


Then my called mum to ask for a lift to see a dear friend who was taken in to hospital, I was feeling rough and didn’t want to pass on germs so Sam went to take her. So I put Ivy to bed. Managed about 15 mins before Sam got home, ate dinner, fell asleep on the sofa, decided to go to bed early in the vague hope of having energy the next day. Ivy was up on and off all night, which is unlike her, suspected tummy ache. Less than three hours sleep for me!


Typing this part while she’s asleep on my lap, at 10:30 in the morning she has a temperature and obviously feels really rough, so I’m getting nothing done but can’t be helped. Might take her back to bed in a bit.


She’s just woken up crying and been sick all over me, and her, and the sofa. And when I stood up it all fell on the floor and the dogs honed in like a couple of sick-seeking vultures. Need to strip us both down and was the floors. Bathe the child as well. Poor girl now she really is feeling hot.


This work isn’t going to happen is it.


5 days later…


Well I did get that work finished, but only because I stayed up until 1am finishing it. This always happens doesn’t it? There’s a deadline; it’s doable, but only if nothing else comes in and fucks with your time management. Oh, look the toddler has a temperature and you’re covered in sick.


2 days after that…


And now one week later I’ve finished writing this post about that whole incident and this might give a small insight into why I haven’t gotten around to writing/finishing/posting anything on this blog over the past year! The plan is for that to change soon. That’s the plan anyway.




Portrait Propaganda

In our age of the internet and celebrity formed almost entirely through carefully curated images it’s easy to forget that this idea far out dates Instagram and Youtube. Kings and queens had used portraiture for centuries to ensure proliferation of their image and the presentation of their power over subjects but arguably it was Henry VIII who kickstarted the trend of immense, vivid and detailed images that spoke of his majesty. The invention of the printing press, helped by technical advances in portraiture, saw the spread and control of images of a monarch as an essential part of statecraft, ensuring that subjects would able to see what was presented as a true image of the wealthy and powerful, though perhaps more labour intensive than a decent angle and a few filters.


Hans Holbein the Younger, ‘Anne of Cleves’, 1539


We know from the example of Anne of Cleves that portraits were often designed to be more flattering than factual, I feel I could make a Tinder joke here but I’ve never actually used it so we’ll stick with calling this a prime example of the political power of portraiture.


Henry’s daughter Elizabeth I learned from her father’s example; she and her council were particularly adept at exploiting public goodwill through the frequent creation and distribution of new images of the queen, all laden with obvious iconography and subtle symbolism which spoke of the patriotism and loyalty expected of the viewer. Unauthorised images of the queen, whether original or reproductions were subject to attempts at heavy regulation, not just to restrict their use to permitted means, but because Elizabeth despised images which included ‘grievous and offensive “errors and deformities”‘ in her appearance.


Unknown Artist, ‘Elizabeth I: The Armada Portrait’, c.1588


While no original copy exists, the coronation portrait of Elizabeth was her first opportunity to state her intentions to the world. Despite the extravagant cost of her coronation Elizabeth wears her sister Mary’s robes, reworked and styled, as a visible link to the previous monarch, and only officially acknowledged Queen Regnant. The pose and style of the portrait is unusual for the time; the front facing pose is said to mimic the coronation portrait of Richard II, so that Elizabeth is ‘physically modelling herself on the last English monarch with an unquestioned claim to the throne’.


Unknown Artist, ‘Elizabeth i: The Coronation Portrait’ c.1600 copy of a lost original


Elizabeth’s life during the reigns of her father, brother and sister had invested in her both an unwavering pride in her position, and a seemingly never ending internal and external conflict to assert the dominance of her claim to the throne. Modelling her coronation portrait on that of Richard II created ‘link that overarches Elizabeth’s bastardisation’. Elizabeth’s love of spectacle and obsession with asserting her lineage and status came to define her reign, and our most lasting impressions are formed by the scrupulously refined images of her that survive, exactly as she would have intended. 



Some Sources

Thomas Heywood ‘Englands Elizabeth her life and troubles, during her minoritie, from the cradle to the crowne. Historically laid open and interwouen with such eminent passages of state, as happened vnder the reigne of Henry the Eight, Edvvard the Sixt, Q. Mary; all of them aptly introducing to the present relation’, 1631  

Lisa Hilton, Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince, 2014

Louis A. Montrose, ‘Idols of the Queen: Policy, Gender, and the Picturing of Elizabeth I’


Super Duper Family Organisation Attempt 1.


I went back to work after materniy leave on Monday… First few days have gone well so far, and Ivy has been having great fun at nursery. I had a spontaneous crying sessions when I got back in the car after dropping her off for the first time; she was characteristically unfussed!

With me working, and by the end of September hopefully attending my MA course (using hopefully until the timetables are out and I can properly panic about how little time I will have for anything), baby going to nursery some of the time, husband working and finishing his accounting course I thought we might need some visual help with working out where everyone is.


Ta-da! The highly sophisticated solution of a whiteboard, tarted up with washi tape.

My masterful design of a column for each of us with a corresponding Monday to Sunday cross referencing system will ensure maximum knowledge of who is doing what and where and when. As long as we remember to update it. It’s going on the wall in front of the stairs so when descending in a stupor in the morning it can’t be avoided. When I inevitably trip over the dog or my foot it may also prove a satisfactory crash pad.


Baby approves!

What’s the betting that it stays leant on the floor beneath where it’s meant to be hung for the next couple of months? Pretty high I’d imagine.

Adulting Academic Style



When I started my undergraduate degree I was nervous, but determined. A few days off turning 25 I wasn’t bothered about Fresher’s Fairs or socialising (not my best skill) and was excited to get started with studying, finally. I was also only a few weeks away from getting married, and so that took away some of the nerves as I was pretty busy hand painting apples gold and trying to work out a dietary needs chart so I didn’t poison or kill any of our guests.


Now three years have flown by and I’ve finished the degree, got married, bought a house, and had a baby. Why do things in a sensible order when you can just do EVERYTHING all at once?


In some ways going into postgrad study feels like the first part of real adult life. Mostly that’s because I now have to factor in child care for Ivy into what I do, and so the biggest worry I have about starting an MA at the moment is how I’m going to organise attending seminars with being able to enjoy studying around my new job. Yes, new job, do everything at once again.


I’m worried that the need to work and pay bills with a little more urgency than the average student – if there is such a thing – is going to mean I can’t participate as much in extra curricular stuff.


But then every time I think that I remind myself that I managed my degree while working a part-time job with similar hours to my new one, as well as two other casual jobs. And then I remind myself that now I have a child and I can’t just fling myself at things and hope that I can cope with them. I think anyone would struggle to balance it all, let alone someone like me with far less than the normal amount of physical and mental energy reserves. And then I go back around in a circle until I stop myself and think fuck it, I’ll make it work the best way I can. If at first you don’t succeed, redefine the meaning of success.


… And try not to cock it up.