I am currently working on four other long-form works of creative non-fiction. It's probably crazy, but I get bored doing just one thing, so it's good to have lots of projects on the go.
Below are cover mockups and working titles for each project. I hope the boring titles don't put you off!
Fertility goddesses, the great goddess, the earth mother goddess... In Near Eastern archaeology there is a pervasive connection between human figurines and religious beliefs or magical ritual. Is this justified?
Some ancient figurines were certainly used for magical or religious purposes. This is known from texts. But how are figurines found without the benefit of texts to be interpreted?
- What other questions can archaeologists ask about human figurines?
- What ideas can be used to interpret human figurines?
- Are there richer, more fascinating stories to be discovered about the makers of figurines?
I research the 2600 year old figurines from Tell Ahmar, North Syria - standing female figurines, horses and horse rider figurines – and poses questions of the figurine-makers' identity, intention and impact of these small images on their lives.
My knees are becoming more and more percussive.
Treading softly between the rows of students hunched over their exams, my knees click, crack and whirr like snare drums. My hips keep time with a soft tenor drum thud. This concerns me, not because my students might be disturbed from their topic sentences and relative clauses and present perfect constructions but because in a few months' I'm going on an archaeological excavation in Jordan and I'm feeling old.
The last time I picked up my trowel I was twenty-eight. It seems extraordinary, impossible, that march of seventeen years since then. Seventeen years away from the field, away from archaeology also seems extraordinary when it was, after all, my first love.
My trowels used to live in the top drawer of my chest of drawers. I couldn't bear to look at them. More recently they have taken a position in front of archaeology books; text books, studies and memoirs of the field inching their way forward in my consciousness. I marvel that years ago I used to travel with the trowels in my small back pack, my hand luggage. I recall security officials laughing when I told them I was going to Syria to dig. They laughed and didn't know where Syria was and said my trowel was like something to serve cake with. Days of innocence.
I've wanted to write about Syria for a long time. This book has insisted that it be written for years but for years I've resisted. But now that I'm going back to the field, I think the time has come.
The college campus was unfinished. A large printed poster of how the campus would soon look hung optimistically at the front gate.
Apparently the campus had been a former secondary school with a factory next door. When the college bought the school the factory refused to sell so it was subsumed within the campus. Crossing between the canteen and teaching building meant dodging huge trucks driving in and out of the factory. Construction of buildings was slow and vast swathes of undeveloped land dotted throughout the campus.
The students hated it. There was no library, the canteens were crowded and environment dusty, windy and rather unpleasant.
But it was still an adventure.
It helps to think of the brain as the engine room of the body. Of course we know this. We know that it is messages from the brain which cause the body to function, all those trillions of electrical impulses which cause us to think and act.
Get up in the morning, because we know the sun has risen and it's time for us to do the same, feed our bodies, not too much, not too little, wash the dishes because we'll need them again tomorrow, move, speak, interact with others, get our jobs done, brush our teeth and put on our jammies when it's dark and we feel drowsy.
With Alzheimer's it becomes even more basic than that.
Drink your tea, chew your food, swallow your food. Dinner’s done. Carefully, step into the shower. Pick up the soap, lather and rinse. No, you don't need to do it again. Here's the towel. Move it around to dry yourself. Here's your jammies. Arms up! It's time to change for bed. Lie down, OK, sit down first. Now just let yourself fall onto the pillow, that's right. Close your eyes, go to sleep. Don't forget to breathe!