Tuesday, 4 November 2014

the little grey cells

Now that I'm doing the OU again I'm finding bits of my brain reactivating, which is really a rather fantastic feeling! It's not that I never use my brain the rest of the time, of course, but there's something about really immersing yourself in a topic that makes the ol' brain start bouncing around as if I've been on the caffeine but without the attendant jitteriness (I do not tolerate caffeine well any more).

The course I'm doing this year is a 60-point level 1 introduction to the Arts course. It will in fact be my second last course, as I have 240 points hanging around from when I studied with the OU pre-kids, but these days they insist that you have to do a level 1 course (when I started, ahem, last millennium, I skipped straight to level 2). Actually this is probably just as well because after a twelve-year break I'm no doubt fairly rusty and it'll ease me back into it. Also this one is assessed solely by assignments - there's no exam, callooh, callay, oh frabjous day etc! So far it's going fairly well. I have an assignment to do on Cézanne and Cleopatra - not together, it's an assignment with two short questions. Imagine a single question linking Cleopatra and Cézanne! The mind boggles..

I'd written notes on both sections at the end of last week and just needed to get it into some kind of coherent answer, and today I had an intensive scribbling-on-bits-of-paper session at the local library, with both marker pens and post-it notes (get me, such a student), and it seems, touch wood, reasonably okay.  It turns out I'm a note-taker not a drafter when it comes to essay-writing, which is something our area tutor mentioned at the tutorial we had in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago.  I'd never really thought about it before, but as we have to do some reflective writing as part of the course it's probably helpful to think about the way I work and think. The whole reflective writing things is new to me and to be honest scares me silly!

As an aside I must say that I'm really really lucky with the local library. It's small and to be honest doesn't actually have a huge selection of books, though they'll try to order things in for you if there's something you really want, but it is a real community place. The staff are all friendly and lovely and helpful, and there are always things going on. Rhyme time and story time for the teeny-tiny kids, a book club, Minecraft club and regular craft sessions for the older children, and things going on for adults too. It's one of my favourite places and it's lovely to see a library so appreciated by the community.

The other day we were going out with my mother-in-law for a bit so we decided to go to Pollok Park in Glasgow. Aside from some lovely walks, Pollok Park is the home of the Burrell Collection which we used to mooch around a lot pre-children but tend to hurtle around in rather a hurry these day. Among other things the Burrell Collection includes some ancient Egyptian stuff and a collection of paintings, including a Cézanne, so I thought I'd have a look while we were there to get myself in the mood for comparing and contrasting and muttering about brushwork and so forth. Alas, the Cézanne wasn't there, just an empty space on the wall with no obvious sign explaining its absence.  I'd hazard a guess that they'd have noticed if it had been nicked though. My Beloved said there was a suit of armour missing too - the swords and armour section is his favourite bit.

So I bought the postcard:

 Le chateau de Médan

My mother-in-law and her gentlemen friend took the kids off to the café after a bit so My Beloved and I had a little while to have a proper mooch around looking at things, which is something we haven't done at leisure for ages. I had a really good look at the Egyptian stuff for probably the first time ever. I'd never had any interest in Ancient Egypt, but since the Boy did a Topic* on Ancient Egypt in Primary 4 and I had to help him, I've become more interested.  Between that, and chain-reading Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mysteries**, and having just done the chapter on Cleopatra for the OU course I found myself looking at the various Egyptian bits and pieces with a much more knowledgeable eye. For one thing I was looking at the dates of the objects and being struck by the sheer age (and age-range) of them - there were things there which were truly old, as well as some from the Ptolemaic (Hellenistic) dynasty, the dynasty that included and ended with Cleopatra VII, the Cleopatra, which are comparatively recent as the Ptolemaic dynasty ended pretty much with ol' Cleo in 30 BC.

You know what, though? Studying can be really tiring. I'd forgotten. On that note, I'll head off to bed. Good night!

* There are many more Topics in primary school than when I was that age.

** I'm addicted to mysteries especially ones that are not in the least gritty.

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