#10wos 01: Ties, reflections and projections (23-29 June 2014)

Brass monkey10 weeks of summer is a new project to get more stuff onto this blog: it’s all very well calling it ‘Intermittent notes’ but there really should be some notes to go with the intermittency. It will also help me track the passing of time, as we make our way towards the inevitable heat death of the universe. So #10wos is a prompt, a tool, a thread and who knows what else by the time we reach the end of August?

I’ve titled this post ‘ties, reflections and projections’ because in the space of a week I was prompted to think about the past, present and future from a mix of perspectives. Four events that as the week passed looked furthest back and peered furthest forward.

Part one: I work at Craiglockhart War Hospital. It’s not known by that name any more, these days it’s the Craiglockhart campus of Edinburgh Napier University. It’s quite possible that the building wasn’t known as ‘Craiglockhart War Hospital’ during the years in question, but that’s what Wikipedia has decided to go with. Over three years, from 1916 to 1919, the Craiglockhart Hydropathic was a place of refuge and treatment for soldiers in the Great War suffering from ‘shell shock’; patients who these days would possibly be diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and similar conditions. What has kept Craiglockhart’s war history alive and relevant is its connection to Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen other ‘war poets’ and their publication ‘The Hydra‘. On Monday of this week I helped plan a project the university is running with the Edinburgh International Book Festival: we will be running a blog through the summer to cover some of their World War I centenary related activities, with student and staff contributions. The campus and its archives offer something unique to the festival and its visitors, which we are very happy to share with their world – there’s a small museum on campus, always open to the public. Later in the summer I’ll report back on the process of compiling the blog, as well as thinking about the events that have been put together by the Book Festival. These include ‘The Poetry of War‘, which has been produced with contributions and sponsorship from Edinburgh Napier, on Sunday 24 August.

Part two: Thursday of this week was my grandmother’s funeral. While not quite encompassing a full century, she had plenty of tales and memories from the twentieth century’s other World War and a lot more besides. Though this isn’t the platform to say too much, spending three days in the Weald of Kent where gran lived, my mother grew up and other relatives of mine are based now was an opportunity to think back on all our lives. It’s a lovely area of picture postcard villages, cricket matches, farms and oast houses that even looks good from space courtesy of Google Maps. Family photos were pored over and a few mementos gathered up for safe keeping: I’ve used one to illustrate this post, smoothed from many years of careful brass polishing. Thinking of you always gran!

Part three: Back to Edinburgh for the weekend where the university celebrated its 50th anniversary as a higher education establishment with a day and a night of events, talks, demonstrations, have a go sessions and all manner of other goings on. It’s an interesting time to be in academia, at a Scottish institution. The country has a proud (long) history of education and Edinburgh Napier plays its part in the current provision, having established itself as a centre of expertise and excellence in a range of areas. Looking ahead to the future we await the outcome of 18 September and whatever it may bring, though it’s fairly safe to assume that the university will survive, that festivals and events will continue to take place and that there will be a place for those who wish to understand and deliver them better.

Part four: Universities exist to educate, among other things, so it is always a joy to see the successful completion of degree courses every summer. Sunday of this week took me to the 2014 Business School Graduation Ball, complete with waist coat and bow tie. I can confirm that the future is in good hands.

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