Don's diary

March 17, 2000

Monday

First day of a new semester. I should be meeting students and colleagues, instead I'm on the London train, finishing a six-minute briefing for the Prince of Asturias on Hispanic research in Britain. The others invited to the Cervantes Institute in London are all from Oxbridge or London, so I have opted to cover research in other universities.

Eminent historians are briefly eloquent on Anglo-Spanish relations. My Oxford colleague has heartening statistics on the demand for Spanish in the United Kingdom. Others, from London and Cambridge, highlight the recent interest among students for Hispanic film and cultural studies. I talk of post-Dearing expansionary pressures and scarce postgraduate support, but also of large scale projects, inter-university networks and the generous input from public and private Spanish sources.

Prince Felipe listens well, takes notes selectively and revisits key topics in a final discussion. The Spanish Crown contributes impressively, through patronage and influence, to Hispanic studies beyond Spain.

My daughter has located admirable Spanish food in Shepherd's Bush. My night's sleep is patrolled by her Russian blue cat.

Tuesday

Breakfast with the Ca-ada Blanch Foundation, in London for the prince's visit. It puts about Pounds 35,000 a year into departments of Spanish in northern England.

Naturally, they want high-profile activities, yielding good publicity. This is easier to achieve in Spain, where non-science research can be news, than here - where unless linked to celebrity or scandal, it is not. Several worthwhile ideas emerge and

are well received.

Wednesday

Classes, correspondence, research supervisions, department business. This is start of term as we know it. I leave early to visit an acupuncturist.

Thursday

Mostly teaching. Courses on classic Spanish theatre and its translators and on 19th-century fiction and politics start well. The problem of introducing students to the notion of historical distance gets easier as I grow older and become an illustration of it.

Friday

My timetabling has kept Friday as a research day - a luxury rarely achieved. Hours pass quickly as I set about refining an 18-month-old conference paper - good, I think, but insufficiently argued in places - into a passable article.

Saturday

London again: a book on Lorca is being launched. A mix of other academic contributors (most have stayed away), creative writers and many hangers-on. Lorca encourages this. Also, flamenco music, played too loud and too long. The book is worth having, and there are people I am glad to meet again. The readings are interesting.

When dancing breaks out, I go to my daughter's and improve my acquaintance with the cat.

Nicholas Round, department of

Hispanic studies, Sheffield University.

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