For now, I should explain why, suddenly, on Thursday 13 May 2010, I am back.
As I’m sure most readers will know, we’ve just had a general election in the UK, with a shiny new Prime Minister. I was following some political discussions on the British Knitters group on Ravelry, when someone mentioned the Mass Observation social research project. Started in 1937, this seeks to create an archive of the experiences of the average British citizen, as a historical record of the populace. The sort of thing that we had to analyse in GCSE History, by the time I took it (at the time with much eye-rolling, but of great interest to me now). The original project ran until the 1950s, and was resurrected in 1981, the year of my birth. These days, participants are asked to write three pieces a year for the archive on their thoughts on specific issues, plus any other pieces they’d like to contribute. These are archived anonymously, catalogued by date and by topic, and available to researchers upon application to the University of Sussex. I am sure I could spend hours reading through the minutiae of people’s lives. I have, in fact, just ordered the first book of records by the prolific Nella Last, a housewife who kept very detailed records for Mass Observation through World War II and into peacetime, and I can’t wait for it to arrive.
I would absolutely love to write for Mass Observation, but unfortunately they are currently only recruiting males aged 16-44 who live in the north of England. They might consider those who meet two out of three criteria, but since I only meet the age requirement, I’m not going to get in. Given my blogging performance, that might be a good thing… Happily, and also by the power of Ravelry, I was alerted to a one-off project for anyone to submit a 750-word diary entry for 12 May 2010. I believe the date was chosen to be an ordinary day, because that same date had been used for the same project in 1937 (the date of the coronation of George VI); I am probably going to order that book too. As it happened, given the rather drawn-out process of forming a coalition government over the last week, the entries might be a bit more political than the Mass Observation people had anticipated.
Last night, after knitting, I sat down to write my diary, and, having done so, I realised that I had a ready-made blog entry – or at least half of one seeing as I suspect the above introduction might easily be as long. Longer, in fact, since I have a tendency to be verbose (perhaps that’s why I don’t keep up the blog – it takes too long to write all I want to say). My first draft of the diary entry came in at just under 1,000 words and still, in my mind, contained hardly anything. No details, no feelings. Cutting it down even further to meet the word limit pained me greatly. But having survived doing so, I might as well offer it up to any dear readers who might still be around.
The style is, therefore, sparser than usual, and contains the required background information. We were asked to describe our day, including whether it was typical, and to include such details as who we met, what we ate, and the like.
On that note, I will leave you with the entry itself below, and go and do some long-needed comment moderation since the spammers found this blog. I promise to be back soon!
I am a 29-year-old female living in north London with my husband. I am an accountant specialising in corporate tax.
Today was a typical Wednesday: work followed by my knitting group’s regular weekly meet-up.
I first woke up at 7am, when the alarm went off for my husband to get up – he is due in his office earlier than I am due in mine, and he has usually left the house before I get out of bed at 8.15am. I value sleep more than a leisurely time getting ready, so I rush to shower, dress and do basic make-up – I don’t make much of an effort with that for the office. I never eat breakfast at home – I might buy something on my way into work but often, including today, I skip it entirely. This morning getting up was harder than normal because I’ve been suffering with a cold for the last few days, and kept myself awake coughing during the night. I’d had the last two days off work sick, since I’d completely lost my voice, so today was my first day back.
My usual route into work is to take the bus down to the tube station. It is within walking distance but I am shamefully lazy. On arrival at the tube station I found the gates closed as one of the two lines it serves was disrupted and so the station was overcrowded. However we were let in reasonably soon, so that didn’t make me late for work. I have to change once on the tube, then there’s about a ten-minute walk to my office in the City.
My work involves the preparation of tax returns for our UK companies, plus dealing with correspondence with the Revenue, sorting out tax payments, and fielding queries from the accounting teams in our business units. Nothing out of the ordinary happened today work-wise.
I work in a team of five people, plus our boss who sits in her own office. We are quite sociable and chat whilst we work. Today’s main topic of conversation was of course the new coalition government, and in particular their tax plans. We will need to report to our board on the outcome of the replacement Budget that we have been told will be given soon, so that gave us an excuse to spend a lot of time surfing various news websites in search of any rumours. Plenty of tea was made, as always.
For lunch I bought a freshly-prepared salad from a take-away place by our office, plus a soft drink and a chocolate-chip cookie for later, but sadly the cookie turned out to be not very nice so I didn’t finish it.
At 5.45pm I left the office – this is unusually early for me, as I tend to stay until at least 6.30pm, often later. I am not paid overtime, but my contract says that I am required to work any additional hours needed to do my job. This is quite standard in financial services, but I do at least get a bonus (never enough!) once a year.
Having exchanged e-mails during the day to arrange a venue, I headed across to west London to a crêperie to meet my knitting group. This was to be a new venue for us, and did not work out very well. We do not generally all turn up at the same time, so need a place where we are able to take over a table big enough for all of us for the whole evening. The crêperie was extremely busy and the waitresses could not let us do that, but luckily fewer people than normal came along. We admired each other’s knitting, ate crêpes and chatted about the election, books, films etc. I was knitting a plain triangular shawl, since this is easy to do whilst talking!
We left the restaurant at 9pm. The tube disruption from earlier was still going on, so it took me longer than usual to get home. Coincidentally I arrived at my home station at the same time as my husband, who had been rock climbing with his friends, so we took the bus home together, arriving back at 10pm. We don’t have a television, so both spent some time reading and surfing the internet on our laptops, with the heating on as it is unusually cold for May. I wrote this diary entry at just past midnight, and will go to bed as soon as it is sent.