Picking up the thesis again

Next week is when I plan to open my thesis for the first time since it was handed in. It was around 10.30am on Monday the 4th of September I carted two copies of it over to the King’s Gate building in Newcastle, along with my bloodshot eyes and a digital copy on a CD, enclosed in a paper origami CD case. It took me longer to assemble the CD case from the piece of A4 paper than it did the library to print and bind the thesis copies – a final test, perhaps, before you can submit. Fail the origami challenge and your thesis is rejected, your efforts in vain, and your reputation ruined. This was a perspective shared by the lady behind the service counter who took the copies off me – she was distinctly impressed by the accuracy of my folds, turns, and scores in the paper. Maybe she is the final judgement, and if your origami CD case fails to pass her stringent standards, she clubs you over the head with your own thesis before filing it promptly in the bin. Luckily I didn’t meet such a fate, although The Girlfriend came close to clubbing me over the head herself when I clambered through the front door some 15 hours later, drunk as a skunk, apparently saying something about how I had wanted to buy some bread from Marks and Spencer’s to eat on the bus home but, inexplicably, had found it closed at 11.30pm.

I digress. My point is that since that day I haven’t looked at the thesis once, on the advice of my supervisors, my colleagues, and The long suffering Girlfriend. I did however print and bind myself a copy too, knowing that when it came to viva preparation I would need one to read and stick post-it notes all over. But it’s been nice feeling the thesis fade from the forefront of my brain, as I’ve got on with other bits of stuff and other bits of work. But next week is when I plan to read through it again. The first time I think I’m just going to try and read it quickly, not deeply – a pen in hand, but only to jot down the inevitable typos and errors I come across. The second time, once I’m refreshed, will be the time to go through it more thoughtfully and carefully, assessing the strengths and weaknesses, making more detailed notes, and in general just getting my head back into it. The viva itself is on the 27th of November, another Monday, although hopefully this time The Girlfriend will be with me when I get drunk as a skunk afterwards, meaning she’ll also be a bit wobbly and therefore unable to club me over the head.

This week though, I’ve a few things to finish. Happily, along with a colleague I have finished an abstract for the AAG next year, although unhappily as a member of the lecturing staff he is the only one of us who can actually afford to go and present it. It’s about hydrogen, everyday practices, and decarbonisation – a million billion miles away from the other thing I’ve been working on, which is an exploration of Unitarianism and radical politics in Newcastle in the nineteenth century (see HERE). I’m almost ready to start writing something about that now, which will focus on the presence (or lack of presence, as it turns out) of Unitarians in the peace movement in Newcastle. I originally wanted to focus on four individuals and their ideas: William Turner, James Losh, Joseph Barker, and George Harris. However, the sheer lack of available information on Turner and Harris, both in their letters and personal papers and in records of their sermons, means that the paper will now probably be exclusively on Losh and Barker. This is no bad thing – twice as much detail on both of them, something that I have the material for. It might, maybe, or maybe not, or possibly, be in a state to send to a journal sometime in the winter of 2022.

November, on the other hand, will likely just be viva prep. And a trip to Paris for a conference, of course, in which I shall be trying to present my (98,880 word) thesis in fifteen minutes. I’ve decided, as it’s so close to the viva, I’m going to take my copy of my thesis with me, and if anyone at the conference has anything negative to say I shall simply club them over the head with it. Something, admittedly, that probably won’t go down too well if I do it to my examiners.


A plea for bibliographic assistance (please retweet etc…)

I have a request, my dear universe.

For some time now I’ve been trying to work out the exact publication date of a tract that was published in Newcastle sometime between 1840 and 1845. The tract in question was written by the Revd. Joseph Barker, and was entitled All War Anti-Christian (see the image below – and incidentally not the same as this one here, which was published in 1840 but is not the same as Barker’s).

All War Anti-Christian.jpg


There are conflicting messages as to when it was published. Asbury University’s library guide thinks it was ‘c.1843’ (see here, p.24). Peter Brock, in his book Pacifism in Europe to 1914 (p.534) writes that it was “published in Newcastle-upon-Tyne around 1840.” Also, Barker edited and published the works of William Ellery Channing in 6vols in 1844 from his Hood Street base. At it’s end was a list of works published by Barker, including ‘The New Series of Tracts’, the 1st of which was All War Anti-Christian. It was followed by 13 other of his tracts, some of which were also on war and peace (see photo below). This doesn’t tell us anything about when they were first published though…

Barker's new series of tracts.jpg


Jstor thinks that one of these other tracts on war and peace by Barker, entitled Other objections to the peace principles answered, was published in 1842. But it doesn’t have any suggestions as to Objections to peace principles answered, which is before Other objections in the photo above. Meanwhile, the usually triumphant Worldcat hasn’t been much help either. All it can say about Objections to peace principles answered is ‘[1840?]’ (see here), and it thinks Other objections might have been 1842 (see here). Finally, it thinks a subsequent one, War and governments, or, Further objections to the peace principles answered, might be from ‘[approximately 1843?] (see here).

Barker, for what it’s worth, was still trying to sell All War Anti-Christian in the 17th [XVII] issue of his periodical The Christian, which was published in 1844. In fact, there are only two indications from Barker as to when it was published. The first is found on p.4 of the tract itself. Writing that “one great cause of war is the love of money”, he then went on to say “The black infernal war with China also, in which the British forces are engaged, is a war for money.” This should mean that he is writing during the First Opium War, which came to an official end on the 29th of August 1842 with the Treaty of Nanking. Thus, it should mean the latest he wrote the tract was, say, the end of the first half of 1842, but it also means he could have written it as far back as 1840.

The second indication is from the tract on the list entitled Non-Resistance, which features two letters exchanged by Barker and Henry Clarke Wright, an American. These letters were both written in late 1842 – Clarke’s first one in November, and then Barker’s reply in December. This means the tract was probably published in early 1843, but certainly no earlier than December 1842, for obvious reasons. Thus, because Non-Resistance is listed as No.3 on Barker’s list of tracts (after All War Anti-Christian and Objections to peace principles answered), we can surely conclude those two were before it. However, and again, this only tells us that All War Anti-Christian was likely published at latest in the first half of 1842, and not if it was published earlier.

I’m at the end of my tether with this now. For reasons that are inescapably boring it’s quite important I ascertain – at minimum – what year this was published. This is therefore a plea for help. If anyone can do one of these three things for me, I’ll Paypal you the entire contents of my piggy bank, or at minimum buy you a book of your choice, or something.

  1. Know, and tell me, when All War Anti-Christian was published.
  2. Check physical copies of All War Anti-Christian for any indication of a publication date. I’ve checked the one held at Newcastle University’s library, but Worldcat tells me the British Library, Glasgow University, and the Bodleian at Oxford University also have copies. This is a long shot, but it’s possible there might be info on the physical copies as to the publication date (a handwritten annotation denoting when that copy was purchased, for example). If you have access to one of those libraries, I’d be enormously grateful for a quick check.
  3. Check another book that might have info on when this was published. This is the mysterious Works, Volume 6 attributed to Barker (see here), and which keeps coming up when I search for the tract online. It looks like a catalogue of Barker’s publications, and it’s publication date is 1840. Given the rubbish dating of Barker’s other works this is probably wrong (or a guess), but it might have All War Anti-Christian and its publication date in.

Any help or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

[EDIT – I have now found an online copy of Works, Volume 6, and what do you know, the dating isn’t correct. It is a list of Barker’s publications compiled what looks like decades later, and whoever has compiled it has written circa 1840 at the top of the page. But, I know some of the publications it speaks of were published as late as 1846. So, it’s wrong. Oh well…]

Unitarianism and Radical Politics in Newcastle, c.1790-1850

The title, hopefully, of an article that may exist soon. It may not, depending on how much time I can spend on it over the next few months, but all things being equal it should. Over the past few months I’ve become interested in Unitarianism in Newcastle, and especially the role that it did (or didn’t) play in the various radical, philanthropic, and reform movements that gestated in the town in the first half of the nineteenth century. Unitarianism is a denomination of Christianity with a complicated heritage – it is defined primarily by its denial of the Holy Trinity, which is a mainstay in other Christian denominations. They reject the belief that God is one being spread across three persons: the Father, the Son (or Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. They believe that Jesus was a human not a manifestation of God – an exceptional, amazing human by all standards – but a human nonetheless. Unitarians are also prominently associated with the ‘Rational Dissent’ of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and incorporated scientific developments into their theologies to condemn some practices (such as the Trinity) as irrational and with no solid foundation in Scripture. There’s more to them than that, but they emerged in the late eighteenth century as a distinct grouping with a distinct theology, and subsequently established distinct places of worship in the UK – firstly in London in 1774, and then later in other provincial towns (such as Newcastle). In Newcastle, a new meeting house for dissenters was established in 1726, and under the extraordinary Revd. William Turner made the transition from general dissent towards a concrete and definite Unitarian congregation around the turn of the nineteenth century.

My interest in this particular group’s relationship with radical politics comes from their seeming non-involvement in the Newcastle Peace Society, which was formed in 1817 as an Auxiliary to the London Peace Society, and which ceased to be just before the Franco-Prussian War in 1869. From what we know – and the archival record is patchy to say the least – there were no Unitarians among the founder members of the Society: they were all Quakers such as Anthony Clapham and George Richardson. And although I’ve not been into this as thoroughly as I need to yet, it seems they were also very underrepresented in the ranks of the society after it expanded and became more active in the 1830s and 1840s. In their inaugural report to the London Society, which was in 1832, William Turner is listed among the subscribers, and yet there seems to be little evidence that he ever actively took part in the society’s endeavours. The only thing I can find thus far is that he seconded a motion at their 1831 annual meeting, but aside from that there are no tracts, sermons, or mentions of him in the subsequent newspaper reports of the society’s proceedings. Instead, we see references to other denominations: the Congregationalist minister Revd. John Orange, who for a time was secretary of the society; the Revd. Valentine Ward, a Methodist; and a Scotch Presbyterian called Dr. Lockhart whose first name is unknown. As David Saunders writes, “local Nonconformists — especially Quakers, but also Baptists, Primitive Methodists, Congregationalists and Scotch Presbyterians — maintained a local branch of the national Peace Society between October 1817 and April 1869.” But conspicuous by its absence in Saunders’ comment is Unitarians. It begs the question: where were they, and why was Turner seemingly so passive in his involvement in the Society?

This is surprising, and warrants further investigation, for two reasons. Firstly, we know that Unitarians such as Turner were prominent in other radical movements in Newcastle between around 1790 and 1850. Turner, as well as the solicitor James Losh and a handful of others, spurred the anti-slavery meetings in Newcastle in the last decade of the eighteenth century. This work was continued, among others, by the Revd. George Harris, who eventually took over Turner’s ministry in 1845. This is similar to other members of the Newcastle Peace Society: George Richardson, John Finlay, John Fenwick, Valentine Ward, and plenty of other members were prominent in the anti-slavery movement in the 1830s and 1840s; the Richardson family, spurred by Anna and Ellen Richardson, did an abundant amount of good for the cause, as many historians have noted. The causes of anti-slavery and peace were inexorably entwined in Newcastle. It is therefore a surprise that there isn’t more evidence of Unitarian involvement in the peace movement in Newcastle.

Secondly, we also know through the pathbreaking work of Martin Ceadel that Unitarians caused mischief way out of proportion to their numbers in the British peace movement. As he writes,

“the Unitarians, who had been the mainstay of the opposition to the French wars, played a more modest role in the society than their overall numerical decline can explain. Admittedly, they were important in the west country; the Revd Theophilus Browne was treasurer and secretary of the Gloucester auxiliary and so indispensable that it began ‘drooping’ (as John Bevans put it to a local member) when he left the city, and collapsed altogether soon afterwards; and the Revd Lant Carpenter was probably a member of the Bristol auxiliary, like Mary Hughes. But, in Conway’s words, ‘they were certainly not dominant’.”

And yet, those Unitarians who were involved in the peace movement were far from inactive; Ceadel gives a number of examples of prominent Unitarians who interfered in the ‘peace or war’ debate throughout his work. Furthermore, J.E. Cookson, in his study of ‘anti-war liberalism’ in the Napoleonic Wars, shows how the so-called Rational Dissenters, many of whom were Unitarian, were at the forefront of opposing Britain’s and Europe’s more general decent into conflict. Finally, Ceadel has revealed how before the London Peace Society properly established itself it first had to see off a rival organisation, which was the brainchild of one Richard Phillips, a Unitarian. Yet in Newcastle we see plenty mention of the likes of Turner and Losh in the anti-slavery movement during the Napoleonic Wars, but little on whether or not they were involved in peace activism. Furthermore, we see little evidence that Turner or other Unitarians were prominent in the Newcastle society across its lifespan. Other notable Newcastle Unitarians – William Batson, Edward Prowitt, the Doubledays, Thomas Gibson, et al – were not, apparently, involved, although I need to check a couple of others, such as John Bruce and the Hodgson family, properly.

There are therefore questions to be answered about the extent to which Newcastle’s Unitarians were involved in the peace movement in Newcastle, and if they weren’t, a question to be asked as to why. The only hint we have so far is the relationship between the Newcastle Peace Society and the maverick Revd. Joseph Barker in the early 1840s. Barker, an extraordinary individual, moved to Gateshead in 1839 and immediately became an important member of the society: a committee member no less, and a salaried lecturer spreading the principles of peace around the region. We know that the Richardson family, among others, supported him and his family until at least 1842. But in the early 1840s Barker, in one way or another, began to change his views: he not only transitioned slowly to Unitarianism from Methodism, but he also became a disciple of William Lloyd Garrison, and thus began to oppose not only all war and militarism but also the institution of the state itself. In doing so, he became what we would now describe as a Christian anarchist, and a vehement one at that. However, he was to leave the Newcastle society in 1842, and when he moved to Leeds later in the decade, it was the Revd. George Harris who presided over a Unitarian party bidding him farewell, and not the Quakers or other members of the Newcastle society. The reasons for this seem to be because of his increasingly eccentric views on theological matters such as the atonement, and not, interestingly, his anarchism – it seems he published a couple of anti-government tracts before 1842, meaning that the Richardsons must have continued to support him, at least for a time, in full knowledge of his ideas about the state.

Whichever it is, the way the Richardsons removed their support for Barker in light of his increasingly heterodox Unitarianism opens questions as to the relationship between Quakers, Unitarians, and radical politics in Newcastle more generally. Unitarians, as Douglas Stange makes clear in his study of British Unitarians’ involvement in anti-slavery activism, tended to view themselves as marginalised within British Christianity, and constructed a strange but distinct self-identity as what we might now call ‘the underdog’. In Newcastle, however, we don’t know much about this. To put it bluntly: did the Newcastle Peace Society’s core membership of Quakers actively marginalise, or ignore, the efforts of Unitarians towards peace, and did the Unitarians, aware of their status, turn away from the cause towards other avenues of dissent and reform as a result? If Turner was prominent in anti-slavery networks in the 1790s and after, and later joined the Newcastle Peace Society, why is it he was not a founder member? There are all sorts of interesting questions that arise when we consider Unitarianism like this.

What I consequently want to do is reassess the role of Unitarianism and Unitarians in radical politics in Newcastle between 1790 or so, and 1850. I want to re-examine the ways in which they were involved in the peace, anti-slavery, and other reformist movements in Newcastle, and place this within the wider religious and theological context of Newcastle at the time. Simultaneously, I want to ask how and why, not just to what extent: in other words, I want to try and find out why Unitarians were, or weren’t, involved in these movements, and how and why their involvement changed across time. The way I want to do this is by focusing on Turner, Losh, Barker, and Harris (these four at minimum, possibly more if it becomes possible) in what I think of as a structural biographical approach: an approach which uses individual lives as “windows onto the complicated trends, events, [and] crises of their time, providing an entry point for a deeper understanding of a particular historical era” , as Marion Kent puts it in her study of Queen Victoria. The reason for focusing on these four individuals is simply out of necessity: the archival record is patchy on these questions, but all four were prolific speakers and writers, and as such leave behind a diverse range of sermons, pamphlets, speeches, letters, and motions to explore. I will compliment this with a broader investigation into the history of the Unitarian congregation in Newcastle, drawing on the papers stored at the Tyne and Wear Archives, the fabulous British Newspaper Archive, and secondary literatures wherever I can. The nature of archival research is similar to the old dictum ‘one step forwards, two steps back’, in that one particular archive source tends to lead you to at least two more, which both lead you to two more, and so on, in a tree-branch like fashion. I’ve already done a decent scan of the secondary literature and tracked down the majority of the stuff on/by the four individuals I want to focus on, but there’s plenty more work to do.

So, I guess the question now is: can you help? Do you know anything about this, or are able to point me towards some literature or archival sources that might be useful in revealing things about the relationship between Unitarian(i)s(m) and radical politics in Newcastle between c. 1790 and 1850? If so, do get in touch. And if you’ve got anything broader to say – including, I stress, if you think this is all rubbish – do get in touch also. Any information that helps will be rewarded by a batch of homemade cookies, of a flavour and kind of your choice.

[Also, I can’t be bothered to do a bibliography, but if you’d like reference/bibliographic details on anything above do shout, and I’ll be happy to provide].

Make reading great again, don’t do a PhD. Or, on (re)learning how to read

I’ve complained in the past that spending nearly four years planning, researching, and writing a doctoral thesis has made me hate reading. Like many, reading is one of those things I’ve loved since I was little. I remember sitting in primary school with a battered copy of the children’s SF novel Escape From Jupiter, which to the 10 year old me seemed enormous but, I now know, is actually ‘only’ 240 pages long. I remember devouring the Harry Potter books, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider books, and finally spending what felt like 400 years steadily making my way through Lord of the Rings. In fact, at primary school we were given what was called a Reading Record. We had to read for 30mins a night, and our parent or guardian had to sign to confirm that we had. I remember that my Mam would sign it weeks in advance at a time, knowing that I read far more than 30mins a day – often without her even knowing. Looking back this was probably an open secret between her and my English teacher, but it speaks to that clichéd sense of early childhood, pouring over young adult fiction and loving being immersed in the worlds they conjured up.

Then, for reasons that are still unclear, I decided to do a PhD, which involves what can only be described as a fucking shedload of reading. And not reading novels, like the delightful Fiasco by Stanislaw Lem, but long, difficult, meandering books on often abstract, philosophical, and convoluted topics. What’s more, because I decided to do my thesis in historical geography, technically half of the books I’ve had to read have, in some shape or form, been history books – and I quickly learned that historians can be among the blandest and most tedious of scribes. As a result, I found that reading very quickly turned from a joyful hobby into a crushing bore. I stopped reading books for fun, and, especially after I completed my archival research, reading frequently turned into a ‘needle in a haystack’ style operation, where I would dive into a book to crosscheck some fact or figure, or discern the necessary context for this letter or that memo, and no more. When I got home from the office I would sometimes look at the big pile of unread SF novels that sit dolefully on one of the bookcases. ‘Read me, read me’, they would cough through the dust that had accumulated on their covers. Not a chance. Rather than reading, my evenings became nothing more than slumping mindlessly in front of the TV and whacking on New Tricks or Luther or Criminal Minds for the umpteenth time. Put simply, even the thought of reading became exhausting. And on those few occasions I did pick up a book, and I would typically only make it through a handful of pages before tossing it aside and loading up Celebrity Masterchef.

Now though, events have conspired to help me get back some of the fun that was sucked out of my soul over the past four years. The first and most blatant is that I’ve now submitted my thesis – all 301 pages of it – and as a consequence don’t really have to read for it any more. This has helped me make some headway with my new year’s resolution, which was to read 25 ‘non-work’ books in 2017. I’ve actually lost count of how far I’ve got, and I can’t be bothered to work it out, but I think I’m now well over 10. Equally important has been the beginning of the school year, which means my partner, who works for an education charity and spends a considerable amount of her time in schools, is properly back to work again. She was away in Darlington all week last week, and next week is away in Stockton. Usually this would be an opportunity to watch football non-stop, but last week I was able to spend a couple of evenings tucked up on the sofa slowly working my way through William T. Cavanaugh’s brilliantly incisive The Myth of Religious Violence, which crushes any sort of notion that ‘religion’ causes violence in any way, shape, or form. It’s a difficult, although clear, 300 odd pages, and I would never have even attempted to read something like it this time last year. But I not only finished it, I enjoyed it, and at some point will read some of his older books too.

Another quirk of happenstance has meant I’ve spent a lot of the last week sitting in A&E at Newcastle’s RVI hospital. I’ve had a mildly irritating eye infection, which was initially misdiagnosed as conjunctivitis and which therefore was allowed a full two weeks to annex one side of my face before getting properly identified. Now, you can say what you like about A&E waiting times, but it isn’t half a good opportunity to read. Thinking ahead the first time I went I took two books with me: Frederick Pohl’s novel Jem and Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. I made it halfway through the former and read all of the later, although because my face was alternatively sore, numb, sore, and then numb again as the day progressed I’m not sure how much of them I took in. Tomorrow I’m going back to the hospital for a check up, and I’m inexplicably looking forward to it, because it means I’ll get to spend another hour, with no phone signal, sitting reading what will hopefully be the second half of Jem. If I get near the end and they call my name out, I might become the first person ever to insist on waiting longer to see a doctor in an A&E department.

The combination of these events has, slowly, eased me back into reading for fun and not for work. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book and not had a question I wanted answering from it: it’s been a long time, in other words, since I read a book just for the sheer pleasure of reading it. I’ve missed the moments where a nicely constructed phrase or sentence makes the corners of your mouth twitch with admiration, or where a carefully constructed point or argument makes you involuntarily nod your head in appreciation. I’ve missed – longed for, in fact – that incommunicable feeling when you can sense your brain coalescing new knowledge out of the words on the page, or the sudden jar of realisation when the thrust of the argument or twist of the story prods you square on the nose. These are feelings I’ve not felt for a while. Instead, the predominant feeling has been one of frowning frustratingly at a text, skimming and searching for the point at which the question you need answered might be discussed. Now though, I think I’m beginning to get back into reading for fun.

This was encapsulated earlier today. The bus from Newcastle back to where I live takes about an hour, and I’d usually spend the hour browsing football trivia or news articles on my phone, or staring blankly out of the window into space. Today though, I printed off three journal articles to read on the bus home. Two on the reception of the German geographer Friedrich Ratzel in a) early twentieth century Germany and b) contemporary human geography, and one on the apparently religious roots of secular discourse. I got through the two Ratzel ones before getting home, and honestly can’t remember the last time I was simply so interested and immersed in reading articles about geography. The partner won’t be back until 9 tonight, and instead of watching Whitechapel I’m going to make a cuppa, settle on the sofa, and read the final of the three articles.

And then, after finishing Jem tomorrow, who knows what will be next? I don’t know and I’m excited that I don’t know. To use a Trumpism: make reading great again, don’t do a PhD.

Revd Richard Pengilly

In researching and writing about the history of the Newcastle Peace Society in the early nineteenth century, one of the things that frustrated me is that I could find no images, sketches, or drawings of anyone involved in the Society apart from members of the Richardson family. Now, I have found a portrait of the Baptist Revd Richard Pengilly, a member of the Society until 1845.

012680:Rev. Richard Pengilly Newcastle upon Tyne  1782-1865
Source from HERE

I think I’ve just finished my thesis

10.16am, 14/08/2017. The time and date that I finished my thesis.

Well, not quite. For one, it’s still 750 words over the limit, but in the grand scheme of things 750 words isn’t very many at all. It’s certainly a far cry from the 6,000 odd words over the limit the original draft was.

But, the hard work is now done. No more thinking. All the changes recommended by my supervisors have been made – well, except from the ones I existentially disagree with.

Still, of course, there’s a few other things to do. The footnotes are now a bit all over the place due to editing and rewriting some sections, and I need to enlist the help of my mapmaking friend to tweak a few images and add a couple more. Then it’ll have to be sent to proofread. Then I’ll have to go through the horror of printing and binding two copies of it, and trudging through the labyrinthine corridors of the ancient edifices here in Newcastle to deliver them to the school office.

I’ve just eaten a celebratory apple. Now for a coffee, and then back to it.

Has anyone ever been happy with the version of the PhD they’ve submitted?

A genuine, sincere question. Has anyone ever submitted their PhD thesis and thought: I’m really happy with how that looks?

At the moment I think I’m going to have three versions of mine. The first version, the one I submitted in full, completed draft to my supervisors a couple of months ago, is the one I’m happy with. Then I’m going to have a second version, the one I submit in a couple of weeks, which incorporates some of the supervisors’ changes and recommendations – some of which I disagree with fundamentally but are necessary to ensure the thesis is watertight (as far as I can work out this just means mechanically restating your overall argument at every inopportune moment). Then, I guess, I’ll have a third version which I’ll be even less happy with, which will incorporate the changes (presuming there are some…) requested in my viva by the examiners.

Yet more things to add to the mounting evidence that researching and writing a thesis is an intrinsically unhappy process. If you’ve spent so long on something you’d think what you get out at the end is the equivalent of a Fabergé egg. More like a Kinder Surprise in which the toy turns out to be broken.