As I reach the final stages of my book on the Order of the Garter (6 chapters about to be sent to the publisher; last chapter half-written), I'm tidying up references, and scanning my photos. And as I look at the titles I have just collected from the library, from up and down the Dewey cataloguing scale, it reminds me of why it's taking me so long. I have
Oscar Wilde, The picture of Dorian Gray
William Empson, The Structure of Complex Words
Harriet Guest, Empire, Barbarism and Civilisation
Crowfoot, et al. Textiles and Clothing, c. 1150-c. 1450.
On my desk at home I have Rachel Holmes' biography of the intersexual doctor, James Barry.
And on my list of things to order and place on hold I have Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Pepys' Diary, and The Last of the Barons, by Edward Bulwer Lytton.
(Also on my desk is a History of the New South Wales Parliament, but that's for another project: quite separate...)
No wonder it's taking me so long to tie all my threads together. It sometimes feels dizzying to be moving across so many centuries and fields. Still, some sections in some chapters now make a satisfying "clunk" sound (like the sound when you check out a library book at Baillieu) when they come to an end. Getting there. Ever closer, every day.
It is of course ridiculous that this great enterprise will score me only a measely 5 points on our research productivity indicator things. But you know what? I don't care. Today, this week, I really like my book.