Tag Archives: interviews

More travels

This last week I was back in Sheffield for work, starting the interviews for the research project I’m working on. I stayed with lovely people from the Ship (including holly who used to blog here) and their two furry owners. As well as the interviews (which on the whole I thought went really well) I also managed to meet up with another shippie, Jengie, which was great, visit some of the gardens and galleries around the city centre, and make contact with an old school friend who now lives and works in Sheffield and, bizarrely, is the lead research governance person for my project! I may be going back there in a few weeks, so hopefully we will be able to meet up then, timetables permitting.

I ate a couple of times at a hippyish vegan cafe in the centre, which featured these clocks which really made me laugh:

Yorkshire timezones

As mentioned, holly and JonoT are owned by a couple of furry brothers, Charlie and George. I was freaked out before I even met them as every photo I have ever seen of them has them with laser eyes, both staring in the same direction and convincing me I was going to have to don a tinfoil helmet every time I went indoors. They actually weren’t that bad most of the time, although on my final evening I did have an audience while I was eating my tea which was a bit disconcerting:

Charlie says "You will give me all your dinner now"

The final interview was on Thursday evening, I had toyed with the idea of returning home straight after it but hadn’t because I had worked out I would get home at some stupid small hour of Friday morning so it wasn’t very practical. Which turned out to be a good decision given the rain/floods further north on Thursday afternoon/evening which meant that train travel anywhere up north was chaos, I was following several people’s torturous journeys home on facebook and very glad that I wasn’t having to go through that. On Friday morning when I did leave it was still bonkers, but at least it was daytime, and although I had to change a few times and it did take hours and hours and I wasn’t well which didn’t help, the train staff were all cheerful despite all the bonkersness that they must have been dealing with, and I am really happy to get home at last, though I struggled to stay awake till 8pm after a very long day.

Today the most exciting thing has been to buy some new pants (it must be an age thing, but I really like that satisfying feeling of knowing I’m going to be wearing nice new pants :D), and watch a gaggle of birds fighting on our bird feeder. And trying to ignore the length of the grass, which will bury the bird feeder from underneath if it’s not cut soon.

Back – briefly

We went to the WOMAD festival at the weekend and had a lovely time. I only got to see 3 out of my 7 “must sees” (see last entry), didn’t think there was as much music I wanted to see or really grabbed me, compared to last year, and the weather wasn’t great (Saturday was gloriously sunny most of the day, but it started raining on Saturday evening and basically didn’t stop till we were packing up on Monday morning, so it ended up being a bit of a mudbath by the end of the festival). But, it was still a lovely weekend, we had fun with the family and the kids, and it was good to be away. I’ve put photos on facebook, but won’t have time to put them on flickr (and from there to here) till the weekend probably.

Must sees whom I did see were Eliades Ochoa (wonderful, though he had awful problems with one of his guitar strings which kept going out of tune, he had to keep tuning it which must have been really frustrating for him). If you’ve seen the Buena Vista Social Club film, he’s the singer who wears the stetson with the beautiful voice. I also saw Jim Moray (I liked him, HD wasn’t so keen. I think I preferred Seth Lakeman though), and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me that the sousaphone could be funky!) who were amazing, and definitely not Grimethorpe Colliery Band, that’s for sure!

I missed the Skatalites (who were playing on the Thursday night, the day before we got there), Besh o droM (who were playing quite late on Friday night and we were too tired after 2 long days – though actually I could hear quite a bit of their set even from inside the tent, they sounded good so I shall check them out some other time), and Youssou N’Dour and Johnny Kalsi were playing at the same time. I had decided that I’d see Youssou N’Dour (as I’d seen Johnny Kalsi before), but he was on the Open Air stage on Sunday and it was absolutely chucking it down with rain, and in the end even though I did really want to see him I just couldn’t face another drenching.

I also saw a set by a band called 17 Hippies that I really liked, the end of a workshop by Andy Young (who is the A in ALT for those of you who know that band – Andy Young, Liam from Hothouse Flowers and Tim Finn from Crowded House), and a brilliant Scottish band called Deaf Shepherd who play traditional Scottish music. Unfortunately HD wasn’t feeling at all well so we didn’t stay for the whole of their set, but I’ll definitely be looking out for them again.

Despite the rain I managed to get sunburnt – I have a very attractive red nose now! We were talking about sunburn as our little step-niece (who is 5) also got red shoulders, and I told her that HD had called me Rudolph because of my nose. She started telling us about a book she’s got about Father Christmas, and doors you open and behind one of them is Rudolph. HD asked her if Rudolph looked like me. She looked at me, smiled, and said “Well, Rudolph doesn’t have glasses”.


Tomorrow I’m away again for a job interview somewhere exotic (will tell you about it when I get back at the end of the week). I’m getting rather anxious about it, not the job so much but the location as it would be a big big and rather scary move (and did I mention it would be big?). I’m also getting anxious about my thesis, which due to job applications and interviews and things isn’t getting written, and in the meantime HD also has an interview soon, somewhere totally different to where mine is. Having spent one night at Womad not sleeping because of worrying about the interview and the scariness of it all, I spent last night having very vivid interview-and-thesis-anxiety dreams (though they weren’t as psychedelic as rosamundi’s Tamiflu-inspired dreams seem to be!). I was talking to my brother-in-law at the weekend at Womad, and telling him about how we have spent pretty much the entire year thinking that maybe a job for HD and/or me is just round the corner, then it doesn’t work out but there’s something else to apply for and give us hope, and then that doesn’t work out, but something else tantalises us, and on and on and on it goes, so that we seem to be always in this sense of heightened anticipation that never quite works out. No wonder we’re both so stressed. I’m finding it really difficult to pray, so if anyone would like to pray for us I’d appreciate that very much. I’ll be back on Friday so will be able to tell you how it all went then.

Everything is crossed for a bit longer

I’m meant to be working, but have a few things to get out of my system first!

HD thought his interview went OK, but they are also interviewing someone else next week so we won’t know till then whether he was successful or not. So the usual scriptural prayers that the other person is rubbish (yes of course that’s how it works!) are now ongoing.

I finished the online tests, they are being looked at today by the staff tutors and providing they’re acceptable the interview next week will be confirmed. I can’t think that they wouldn’t be acceptable, but still it would be nice to know. They should get back to me later today, hopefully.

Am currently very cross with the housing benefit people. It is looking likely that, because 7 years ago I did something financially sensible HD may not be eligible for council tax benefit. But if we do what technically we could (cash in a savings plan early, which is the issue – because it’s technically possible to do this that might affect his eligibility) instead of being financially sensible that would be financially very very stupid indeed, and the only way we could recoup from the financial stupidity of it all would be for HD to be unemployed and claim benefit for at least a year and a half. Which is really daft, but I’m discovering that the housing benefit office specialises in daft (with an impressive sideline in muppetry), so I don’t know why I’m surprised. Grrrr.

Found out yesterday that my request for a PhD extension is a bit complicated, so there is no definite “yes”. There is a provisional “yes”, but nothing more can be clarified until the next relevant committee meeting, which is 2 weeks before submission date! My supervisors are saying that I shouldn’t rush to complete by then but stick to my proposed writing-up schedule (which, if I get a full-time job and have to do my thesis revisions in my spare time, would see me aiming to submit just after Easter next year. If I get part-time work (only realistic really if HD gets work) then I’d shave a few months off that. So it’s not like I’m going over the deadline by miles, particularly in comparison with other students who sometimes go years over). I’m feeling reasonably calm about it (believe it or not) but we are having to come up with some more reasons why an extension is justified (basically as far as I can tell they’re not against the extension per se, just not happy with the reasons my department has given so far for me to need one).

That’s it for now. I’d better get back to work (sigh).

Keeping everything crossed

HD has a job interview tomorrow, I am in the process of completing the online tests for the OU interview and also applying for a job somewhere exciting. And today I finally got all my forms off to the Nursing and Midwifery Council to get my nurse registration back.

Somewhere in among all this excitement I seem to have a thesis chapter which still needs writing. Sigh!

Things they never tell you in the “How to Get a PhD” books #370

Transcribing interviews will always take a million times longer than you expect it to. Even though everybody tells you it will take forever, and you factor in loads more time than you think you will need, this will never be enough.

I am (at last) seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this one. I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about it before, but basically although I got all my interviews transcribed by native speakers, their previous experience of transcribing (with a v.important multinational donor) was different to my requirements. I wanted them word for word, warts and mistakes and all, and didn’t want grammar/etc correcting or the rambly bits where the respondent ummed and ahhed cut out. However they were so used to tidying up and prettifying interviews that despite my painstaking instructions, I have had to go through every single interview again and add the bits that were missed out, reinsert all the grammar mistakes (that is particularly soul-destroying, as they had rendered my questions grammatically perfect when I knew perfectly well that I had fumbled my way through them!) and, in parts, completely rewrite some of them. This process has taken the best part of an academic year (for 43 interviews), because as well as transcribing being slow work, when it’s not in your native language it’s even more difficult and painstaking.

I have been doing other things as well. I often find that if I have a couple of days’ transcribing which goes well, the next day I wake up and my brains are like mushy peas, and I’m simply too too tired to do any more. Having breaks every so often does mean that I get back to it fresher and probably go through it quicker than I would if I slogged every single day. It has also been a useful process (albeit begrudging!) in that I have got right back into my data and have had all sorts of thought-processy things going on that have shaped how I will probably write up my thesis. But I am SO fed up of it now!

But – there’s only 3 to go now. I’m so excited that I can finally get on with actually writing my thesis, rather than listening to my hideous mangling of the language!


Today has been one of *those* days. To cut a (very long) story short, it was supposed to involve HD catching an early train down south to a job interview, but in fact involved missed trains, me driving him to the station in my nightshirt without an A-Z, out-of-order ticket machines, hastily rearranged interviews, another cancelled train, a frantic bus journey, and a discovery that the national rail timetable on the internet claimed there was a train to DownSouth that he could catch but actually they were making that up.

So that was HD’s day up until 10am! The rest of the day has calmed down a bit, but we could have done without the excitement! I am more and more convinced every day that the soundtrack to our life will be the theme tune to the Benny Hill Show.

I had supervision today. I bumped into one of my supervisors a few hours before our meeting, and she looked at me rabbit-in-headlights-like and said “I wasn’t supposed to be reading anything for this was I?” To which my equally rabbit-in-headlights-like response was “You weren’t expecting me to write anything for this were you?” So yeah – it didn’t really set the world on fire, as supervision sessions go. But it was OK, considering*.

Tomorrow is the final day of tutorials for this academic year. I can’t even begin to tell you how happy that makes me.

* considering my utter lack of thesis-related work thanks to essays etc.

Chinese Whispers

Sometimes doing a PhD is so like the game of chinese whispers. I’m currently listening to the interviews I did last summer, whilst reading through the transcriptions, and even though I was there at the time doing the interviews and I have the words in front of me as I am listening, I am still hearing all sorts of different things! And the fact that it’s all not in my mother tongue is making it even more of a game. And the fact that the people I’m listening to at the moment spoke really really quickly is only adding to the fun!

Just now I got to a bit where I wasn’t convinced that the transcription was correct, so I put the transcription to one side and listened to it with a blank bit of paper and wrote down what I thought I heard. As it happened, the transcription wasn’t so far off, it was just that because a couple of words were missed out it totally threw me when I was reading it whilst listening. The actual reply was about guys going to a clinic, but what I (thought I) heard was something about stars from TV. Clearly I’m reading too many trashy magazines.

I just can’t believe that even though I was there, playing a big part in the proceedings, listening again is so odd and I’m picking up all these things that just weren’t said at all. It’s a very bizarre, surreal experience!


Thank you for all the prayers and good vibes. HD was offered the job, but has an interview tomorrow for a job we think he’d prefer. So keep praying and vibing, it appears to work 🙂

A good weekend – we went down to the City Where We’re Getting Married (CWWGM) and swore at a vicar (a technical requirement as neither of us live in the city, never mind the parish, where we’re getting married, and they don’t read banns in Scotland – thankfully we said the right swear words so now have a licence to get married). We also saw friends at a birthday do, sorted out the flowers, did a bit of Christmas shopping (including buying our first Christmas tree, which we decorated this evening), and went to church yesterday where they very kindly prayed for us.

We got back to Glasgow just before 2 this morning, so I’m not sure this morning’s supervision session was entirely coherent, but I still seem to have a vague sense of progress and purpose, which at this stage in the PhD is always useful. This term’s essays are due in on Thursday though, so any sense of progress and purpose, however vague, will I expect be lost in the fug of misplaced apostrophes. I’m hoping this year’s lot are better on the comedy typo front than last year’s though.

I need more time

Another week would do, I guess. Although that would put the wedding back a week, which wouldn’t be good.

At some point this week I have to:

*listen to lots of my fieldwork interviews again
*read lots of articles and book chapters that I’ve discovered
*go to London and have a hen night!
*pay for the reception
*pay the church
*order a wedding cake
*go to two boring meetings at work (well the one I’m chairing will at least have cake, so I suppose it’s not all bad)
*tidy the Stately Pile and clean it prior to Best Man and other mate of HD staying over at the weekend while I’m away (I guess it might be more appropriate to tidy it afterwards, but I don’t want them thinking the flat is a tip. Ahem – perish the thought)
*finish my book for book group next week

I will read books and stuff on the train to and from London. But the other stuff will have to get squeezed into the next couple of days, which will be interesting.


[I wonder who’ll be the first to make a comment about I’ll have a vowel please Carol?]

So, it’s my last day in Sibiu, and my penultimate day in Romania. Which means that I’ll be probably offline for the next few days (though knowing me I’ll maybe squeeze in a bit of internet time later today). I have all sorts of mixed feelings. Really Really Happy to be heading home at last, and being able to spend some time with HD and think about the wedding. Also really looking forward to getting my teeth into my interviews and the whole analysis process – apart from the actual fieldwork, this is the bit of the PhD I’ve been really looking forward to. Dreading having to do the teaching again. Worrying I’ll forget the language after being immersed back in English again. Looking forward to being immersed back in English again (jokes about Glasgow accents notwithstanding). Excited about HD moving to Scotland and us getting married soon (that’s the best thing 😀 ). Annoyed with downwiththissortofthing.com (see I think the penultimate September blog entry for explanation) in a Really Big Way today – and wondering if they’re inadvertently talking to me about ‘vocation’, about what I’m meant to be and do (though absolutely not in the way they’d want!).

But also a bit sad that I’m leaving Romania again – there’s something about this place which is really under my skin. No doubt I’ll be back 🙂

Thanks for praying. It’s sort of been half answered and I’m feeling better – but I still need that email!