The first week of semester is always tough. Even when everything goes smoothly there's a lot to manage; and lots of little details to sort. One of things I have to do these days, too, is make sure workloads are evenly distributed in the English program. We have a very elaborate system that counts everything; but no simple computer programme to which everyone has equal access. Our IT support seems to be slipping behind our needs.
Anyway, it was also the week for meeting my new 3rd year class (lecture on Sir Gawain, amongst other things), and my fourth year honours seminar (also Sir Gawain, but in a different context: next week, John Mandeville and Margery Kempe in Jerusalem, with Carolyn Dinshaw as tourguide); and my two new MA students. We had a talk from Stephen Knight for the Medieval Round Table (Celtic and Christian elements in English romance), and the Middle English reading group met for the first time this year. We are going to read Wynnere and Wastoure (it is SO bizarre to have people turn up with my edition: I "forgot" to bring in my own copy, as I always find it hard to return to work I have done in the past).
I was very nervous — as I am every single year — before actually meeting the people in my honours class (9 enrolments and two or three auditing: perfect numbers), and being in the room with the 80 3rd year students. But now I have crossed that bridge, the semester looks as if the teaching will be fun.
Last night three of my girlfriends came over for a glass of wine after dinner. Sometimes these four families all get together: our sons are all about the same age, and have shared different childcare, kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. In fact, three of the boys are currently forming a little jazz trio (bass, drums, piano), so our pride knows almost no bounds.
But last night was girls' night, and very pleasant it was too. Just at the end, after one had gone, another started talking about Robbie Burns. She's a Scot, and an actor and is learning "To a Mouse" as a Christmas present for someone in her family. With a little prompting, she slipped into character, accent and voice, and performed it for us: utterly mesmerising. What a lovely way to set us up for Friday.
I was in the office this morning wrestling with the software and the workpoints; and then some more cumbersome software for some last minute additions to the "publications workbench" for the online record of research, but now I'm home. I'm going to tidy my study; do a little Italian homework; then head down to the gym, and get ready for Friday night.