If things have been quiet around humanities researcher lately, it's not because I recently joined facebook (I can see how it might be addictive, but I hope I'm not going to be sucked in too deeply), but for these reasons:
(a) there is not much research being done around here lately. It's the pointy end of the teaching year for me, with two new subjects to bed down and a bunch of additional lectures; plus the whole getting-used-to-being-head thing and the business of bedding down our teaching for next year.
(b) there has been a lot of fussing (much of it on my part) about our large Centre of Excellence application (actually based at UWA). I have some excellence in some areas: budgets are not one of them. But finally the draft letter and draft budget of the Melbourne end of it are completed. It seems they all may have to be done again, but at least, now, there are some senior people in some senior research offices at two ends of the continent working together. It's working with an inadequate sense of what might be required that is very difficult.
(c) Finally, about two hours, on Wednesday, after the very successful inaugural recite-the-first-18-lines-of-the-General-Prologue competition (with appropriately Easter Lindten rewards [there's a good joke in there somewhere trying to get out], with first prize going to a beautiful solo rendition from memory; and second to a team effort, acted out with sun, winds, plants and birds, ending in a tableau of poor St Thomas with pilgrims kneeling at his side), I picked up a telephone message from my boy, rather apologetically saying he thought he had hurt his arm when he went over the top of the handlebars of his bike when braking suddenly, and might need an x-ray.
Thus began a two-day saga: I took him to emergency and after a couple of hours he was x-rayed; and then began the question of admitting him, and finding him a bed. Too young, really, for adult hospital, but unwanted by the Children's, he was in limbo (another incipient joke: if only I wasn't so tired) for several hours. It was becoming a political question, which would be resolved only by measuring the extent to which particular bones had finished growing. After P arrived, I left to attend my student's graduation: the hospital said they would send him home and admit him the next day. But because I went straight from hospital, after riding home, I was still in jeans, flat riding shoes; no make-up, and not even a hairbrush. I felt decidedly undistinguished sitting on the stage of Wilson Hall as a procession of beautiful shoes paraded in front of me to take out their degrees. I was very glad of my long robes. I was home by 10, but there was a note from P saying they had admitted Joel to St Vincent's, but because he was under 16, an adult had to spend the night with him.
I turned up at 8 the next morning to relieve P, who had an all-day meeting about his Centre of Excellence application (alas, we are rivals). They hadn't been admitted till 11 the night before; and had to wait and wait for a bed for P to sleep on. J was fasting since 6.00 am and was scheduled for surgery after 1.00. Well. He was bumped several times down the list as the afternoon went on (it's just a wrist fracture, but needed to be pinned), and so then it was my turn to stay overnight. At 3.00 this morning they were still planning to operate, so he had to remain fasting, while they put in a drip. At 5.30 am they wheeled him off to surgery, and nearly twelve hours later we are finally home. Everything went well enough, and apart from some nausea after the anaesthetic, he's feeling fine.
Oh. I forgot to say that the night before all this happened, I stayed up too late finishing the second Song of Roland lecture; and then after the graduation, came home to wrestle with the grant budget. I emailed it at 1.00 in the morning, and got a lovely personal message back from someone in the research office. The Perth people were up and on the case, too, but it was three hours earlier, there.
So while the doctors and medical staff lead odd hours (the orthopedic surgeon in particular often has to wait and wait for a free surgery while road trauma patients and knife victims are being treated), so too do scholars applying for research grants, and the research administrators who support them.
After three late nights and early mornings, then, I am just about counting the hours till I can go to bed again.