Remember Robert the Bruce


As a child at school in Scotland, we were taught Scottish history: up until James VI became king of both Scotland and England.  I vividly remember the life of the Bruce and the lesson to be learned from the spider – don’t give up.

Retirement is so much better than working, but I like a little structure and tough goals.  Being contrary and cantankerous, I no longer wanted to join the philosophy group.  However, having given up the idea of a philosophy PhD it troubled me that I had given up the idea of the PhD itself and I wanted to be able to thumb my nose at the group which had lost the  benefit of my membership and participation – a classic example of post event rationalization.

As always, Fate intervened.  I had started a project with our local history society (which I chair) and it occurred to me that I was beginning to accumulate quite a lot of knowledge about the local area and especially the 18C and 19C problem of the poor.  I had never done history at academic level and was concerned it might be a potential issue, but I had proved I could argue and write well (a distinction in my dissertation) – and coping with a philosophy MA without ever having studied philosophy suggested I was comfortable with independent learning.

So, I looked into researching history at Birmingham where I found the Centre for West Midlands History, whose director is Dr Malcolm Dick.    A couple of emails later, I was very pleased to receive an invitation to come and talk.

Dr Dick was very supportive and very helpful.  We had a very good meeting and he gave me lots of sound advice.  He was comfortable that I knew what I was approaching, though counseled that I should really think of completing an MA in history first to give me an essential grounding.

My response was either of arrogance or ability, but I managed to persuade him that I was capable of proceeding straight to PhD research.

All I need to do now is write a research proposal (!), have him agree it and then apply.  So, nothing difficult then.

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