Don's Diary

January 27, 1995

TUESDAY. The first working day of the New Year, and the official first day of my new lecturing post at Lancaster. I decide to prioritise emptying my previous office and will make my appearance tomorrow. Arrive home laden with boxes to discover messages on the answer machine from press, television and radio.

I give a couple of interviews over the phone to the press about a report on lesbian and gay men's experiences of crime which was finished before Christmas. I am requested to do a radio interview at 7am in Manchester. Later Granada TV ask if they can film an interview tomorrow in my office. I explain that my office is in boxes in the back of my car. But they can visit me in my study at home. They agree to come at 11am tomorrow. I ring Lancaster and say I will come in on Thursday instead.

WEDNESDAY. Winter hit Manchester overnight and as I leave the house at 6am, the roads and pavements are covered with snow. I register that a trail of footprints past the car suggests that someone appears to be using our back garden as a thoroughfare. I arrive at the BBC to find that the car park is still closed. The radio interviewer explains that the findings of the report will be one of the main stories of the day and that they will be talking to other parties as the morning unfolds. The interview seems to go well and I listen to the news as I drive home. In fact I listen all day, and it becomes apparent that the story has been dropped. I reflect on becoming yesterday's news at 10am.

Granada ring -- can they postpone the interview until 1pm? No problem, I say, as today the builders begin knocking out the kitchen. I tidy the study, and catch up on correspondence. At 12.30pm Granada ring again; can they make it 2pm. No problem I say, as the sound of lump hammers resounds. At 1.50pm they arrive and the crew of four pound upstairs to the study. It is so tidy, I feel rather proud. They look unhappy. The previous interview had been in an office and so they would prefer not to have shelves of books and reports. The builders are about so in the end they position me in front of a window overlooking the back garden. The sound man asks if the banging can be stopped. The builders take a tea break. When the crew have left, I ring my mother to tell her to watch Granada this evening. I set up the video for posterity. The presenter introduces the report, interviewees come and go -- but not me. Clearly they do not know talent when they see it. I vow not to indulge the media again.

THURSDAY. I arrive at Lancaster and am shown to my room by Veronica, departmental secretary. As we go in, the phone is ringing -- I explain that it could not possibly be for me -- Veronica answers, and it is the press again. I ask them to ring back. To deaden the insecurity of unfamiliarity, I start up Windows on the PC and have a game of solitaire. Then I set about being absorbed into my new working life. New colleagues introduce themselves, and I am feeling welcome. Armed with a map of the campus, I sort out: wages, pension, car parking permit, library card, headed notepaper and most important, where to get change for the coffee machine before reading up on how the phone works. Before I leave, I ring the journalist back.

FRIDAY. A working-at- home day -- thankfully no more journalists, and I am able to work on some data from an ongoing research project using the 486 PC from my old job that I am looking after until their new appointment arrives. The builders continue to bash away.

SATURDAY AND SUNDAY. Two very nice long lie-ins help dissolve the stresses of the week. It is a fine weekend, so we take advantage of the builder's skip outside the house, and fill it with overgrown shrubs.

MONDAY. Back to Lancaster. I grumble over the 386 PC on my desk, which despite added memory, refuses to run my preferred software. Having reached the top of the computer allocation hierarchy in my previous department, it feels as though I have been allocated a donkey where previously I had a company car. I am assured that in time, there will be a replacement.

Later in the library, I discover the Bliss Bibliographical Classification system. Next, I discover how it works. Being a child of Dewey decimal I congratulate myself when I find my first textbook on the shelves, fooled only momentarily that the required text was in fact in the shortloan collection. Despite 15 years experience gained in five different university libraries, I am relieved to have avoided the embarrassment of asking where to find books. Riding on the crest of this success, I return later for six more. Next important task is how to do photocopying. Photocopy cards are held by a secretary, Mary, who shows me the book where numbers of copies are recorded, and explains how to calculate said number of copies. Pleased that I have remembered everything she said, and task completed, I fill out the paperwork. As I leave, a colleague comes in with the copy card I left in the machine. I am grateful -- I might have inadvertently exhausted the entire departmental budget by losing 5,000 photocopy credits during my first week.

Carole Truman Lecturer in applied social science at Lancaster University.

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