What’s in my bag: Academic edition

this post is inspired by this. It’s the end of the year and I’m tired so just a bit of fun…

So in terms of getting back and forth to campus (I’ve just a cheap bag I keep in the office I keep teaching stuff in) I’ve got three options for an everyday bag.

Back and forth to work – This brown Saddleback slim briefcase – this bag will last out my career.

A picture of a brown leather briefcase.
Just wandering about…

If I need to carry more to work – this brown saddleback briefcase – you can get pretty much anything in it.

A large brown leather brief case.
Few more things to carry.. you can carry over shoulder or as backpack.

Overnight trip somewhere – This saddleback backpack – it’s like a tardis and great for two days and has a handy divider in it.

A large brown leather back-pack.
Two day trip? This is the bag – also has a divider in it you can store paper in…

In terms of pens, I’ve got two options I always carry – Parker pen and a 1970s Montblanc pen.

I’m a leftie so no ink pen for me.

I tend not to use paper but if I do write stuff down, then it has to be a red and black.

The classic

My wallet is this super-slim – The Ridge.

No fat wallet for me…

Tech is a bit more complex – around campus, it’s the Surface Go, away from campus and need to marking, an ipad (because turnitin works off-line and thus anyway).

A surface go tablet charging
My Surface Go – notice how it is charging from USB-C which adds convenience when travelling.

If it’s longer off campus and I’ve got a lot of content to write – it has to be the thinkpad x260 (soon to be upgraded to an x1 carbon) – all day (hot-swappable!) battery, every port known to (wo)man and best in class keyboard.

A picture of a black laptop - a thinkpad x260
I’d buy a macbook but I work for a living and need something where the keyboard will not fail… 😉

Now if we got into shoes and watches that could be an entirely different post but for shoes I favour brands such as Trickers like this

Trickers Woodstocks – great everyday shoe – will last for decades.

And trickers like this:

Hi! Nice to meet you, don’t worry you will not remember my name but just look out for these purple shoes at the lunch!
Today’s watch was an Oris..

On being a working class academic (or not).

Me at 23 in South America

I recently got approached about contributing to a publication about being a working class academic, I demurred. The reason is that I feel there is (or should be) a time limit on claiming to be a working class academic. After receiving a free degree, a free masters and a free PhD, I’d be embarrassed to tell a 21 year old today that I understood the situation they were in if they were considering being an academic.

However it’s not just the free education that makes me wary of providing advice to young WC people considering if they want to be an academic, it’s also my lived experience when I was your actual working class hero. Time for some family history…

So I grew up in rural Shropshire in a place called Ellesmere (come visit it’s lovely) – my Dad was a miner, then a lorry driver and then a sales rep and my mum worked in a care home. I’m the youngest of five and I grew up on a council estate called Berwyn View (where my parents still live). I attended the local comp and then went off to the local college to do a BTEC.

Good stuff for a working class academic narrative – however the problem is that I lived in warm clean house and we were never short. I have no idea how the benefits system work because I never used it and I have no idea of what it was to go hungry as a child because we had full cupboards. I have absolutely no idea what it’s like to go to school in shoes with holes in them or any of the other stuff that people often stereo-typically expect from a working class upbringing. The council estate I lived on backed onto fields, and in regards to crime, I do remember someone stealing some lollies from a shed when I was a teenager.

hair was cool, I miss having hair.

Fundamentally there is a gap in my lived experience and what people want from a WC academic or expect it to be like. So at times, when I follow the chat on twitter about being a working class academic, I often feel that my own personal history, and people like me, are seen as not authentic enough because it’s simply not miserable enough (I’ve never suffered from impostor syndrome as a result of being WC – sorry). When I’ve explained this to people they appear disappointed (Surely some drugs, poverty and crime in there? You know that’s all is to being working class) because middle class people get a complexity of experience but working class people have to conform to a series of rigid stereotypes seen via a prism of poverty.

This now reads as if I’m bragging but I guess it’s just me sticking a flag in the sand and saying I’m allowed to have my own personal history even if it doesn’t chime with others and it doesn’t make my origins any less working class or as I might have said when I was 18, if you don’t like it, you can ram it up your hoop.