When the winds begin to sing

Winter ade!

I went to a graduation ceremony at the University of Manchester yesterday. I’ve worked there for most of the last six years, so I’d taught a lot of yesterday’s graduands in all three years; it was good to see them make it to the end.

I’ve been to the last couple of graduations, but this will almost certainly be my last; I started work at another university at the beginning of February. For most of the previous three years I’d been working as what my new employer calls an hourly-paid lecturer. (Manchester, less grandly and less descriptively, calls the post “Teaching Assistant”.) This is not a great position to be in, particularly over summer. Summer 2009 was particularly difficult, and the start of the new academic year wasn’t much better. (It’s no coincidence that this blog was dormant for most of the calendar year 2009, or that I’ve been posting a lot more since February.) My current job was the right opportunity at the right time.

So yesterday’s ceremony roused some very mixed emotions. Leaving Manchester was a wrench, but it was the right thing to do and I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I left Manchester and it was the right thing to do, but it was a wrench. I’ve got the Anselm Kiefer picture at the top of this post on my desk at work (literally on my desk – I must invest in a mount or at least some sellotape). The verse handwritten across it is adapted from a German folk song; it reads

Winter ade,
scheiden tut weh,
doch dein Scheiden macht
daß mein Herze lacht…
gerne vergeß ich dein,
kannst immer ferne sein
Winter ade,
scheiden tut weh.

Which means something like this:

Goodbye Winter
Leaving hurts
But your leaving makes my heart laugh
Gladly I forget your leaving
May you always be far from me
Goodbye Winter
Leaving hurts


  1. Posted 6 July 2010 at 13:39 | Permalink | Reply



    (I always avoid graduation ceremonies. Never went to my own, don’t go to other people’s, whatever campus I find myself on. It’s the bit of academic life I find I just don’t want to have anything to do with.)

  2. Richard J
    Posted 6 July 2010 at 14:53 | Permalink | Reply

    Congratulations on the move – long distance?

  3. Posted 6 July 2010 at 15:59 | Permalink | Reply

    “you just kinda wasted my precious time…”

  4. Phil
    Posted 6 July 2010 at 16:18 | Permalink | Reply

    Richard – not really; it’s on the same bus route. Which is nice.

    Justin – I hadn’t thought of that song, but it fits really well (that verse, anyway). In the sleevenotes Dylan says that the “don’t think twice” part is the speaker reassuring himself he’s made the right choice, which (a) also works and (b) adds a bit of vulnerability to the general heartlessness of the song (not that vulnerability cuts against heartlessness towards other people – far from it – but it’s unusual to see the combination expressed so frankly).

    Chris – that’s really nice, and welcome on more than one level; I can’t really read German, so I take every opportunity I get to read a bit more. (Years ago I had a plan to teach myself German by reading Kafka in the original, but The Trial seemed to be full of words that weren’t in my dictionary.)

  5. Posted 25 July 2010 at 20:37 | Permalink | Reply

    Good luck with the move, hope it works out.

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