Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cat Watching

As I walked back from the local shops this evening a cat strayed across my path. I watched the cat watching me. Cats are naturally set up to notice the smallest deviations in their environment and to see that as either a potential danger or a source of opportunity. I have never known a cat to miss a source of opportunity.

And so it is today that after some little local difficulty over fee levels I have registered again at the University. Two years left now and time to think about the end game.

It gets tougher as time goes by, not because of the diminishing time to complete my work, there is no objective reason why I should not be capable of it. No what worries is what former Tory Prime Minister Harold MacMillan called "Events"

For sure some of those "Events" are coming home to roost upon our current Tory Prime Minister and his end game may be closer than he would like, but it is the financial rigour of his party and their allies vendetta against "the poor and disabled" who have been scapegoated in the Murdoch press for the sins of Murdoch and Cameron's class allies, that will do for me in the end I fear.

Personally I would like to line them all up against a wall and have them shot, though whether that is more economical than hanging them from lampposts I don't know. Forasmuch as I would like to do that to them I am sure they would equally like to send me to a penal colony picking peanuts to feed to the other monkeys like me.  I still think they have a better chance of achieving the latter than succumbing to the former, worst luck.

So it is that the greatest threat to the completion of my degree is financial, and then after that what? If I get that far I will be 58 and that is rather an advanced age to be considering a career change. It was at that age my dad made his final career change from this world to the next, and my mum did not live that much longer after either.

One thing is fairly certain, I cannot expect this government or the next to provide for my old age, not being entitled to anything more than a derisory state pension which would be less than I have to live on now.

Realistically speaking, just as there was someone else who had superior "qualifications" to succeed to the chair of the NAS, there will be a plethora of younger, more agile and "able" people to fill any academic posts that may be available locally, notwithstanding the future for academia is itself uncertain, given the potential fallout from the disastrous fees rise starting this year, I'd have as much chance of going the Grayling route and setting up a University of my own as of getting any secure teaching position.

Likewise the paper chase after a post doctoral fellowship or research post may be unachievable in terms of having to uproot myself from Coventry and chase after something even more distant than Birmingham. Too much shuttling between Birmingham and London has been both economically and physically crippling on me already, I don't have the wherewithal and I don't have the stamina any more.

It leaves the third option, which is to set myself up as an autism/disability consultant, and I have been spending an intense 6 weeks recently on a course designed specifically for that. I have no illusions how difficult that will be either, it is not as if I have never been self employed before to know the challenges, and without the capital behind me this time that I had from my mum's legacy.

I suppose then it would really suit me to go out into that great goodnight at the same age as my dad then, having achieved as much as I was able, and facing nothing but poverty and mental and physical decline if I go on.

Who knows? Only God, but this train is travelling on to whatever destination the rails confine it to.