PhD Diary: The Lancaster Award

I’ve just recently completed my submission for the Lancaster Gold Award. The Award tracks extra-curricular activities and contributions to campus life and the community, as well as work experience and other activities related to employability.

Many of you reading this will probably wonder why I decided to bother with the Lancaster Award – after all, I have loads of work experience, and am not perhaps the target market for the Award, which is mainly aimed at undergraduates who perhaps don’t have all that much on their CV. But then I thought: why not?

The more I think about it, I’m not sure I know any postgraduate, and certainly no PhD student who has completed the Lancaster Gold Award, so that in itself is a minor ‘plus’ to my CV. Sure, it may not be the be all and end all in the academic jobs market, but it does go to show my hard work and contribution to University life while I’ve been working on a full-time PhD. The fact I’ve been able to balance my PhD alongside paid work and other related activities is actually a skill in itself and is testament to what I hope makes me a highly employable academic. Continue reading »

In Loving Memory of Tom Cramp (1930–2018)

Grandpa Tom died today. I miss him already.

Grandpa Tom, Christmas jumpers, December 2015

Christmas jumpers, December 2015

Early years

My first ‘memory’ of Grandpa Tom isn’t a memory as such, but rather a photo. There’s young me aged about five shooting him with a water squirter while he’s lying asleep on a deckchair. I don’t remember the incident as such, but I do remember the photo – I’m just sorry I can’t find it.

Skip forward a few years and my first ‘proper’ memory of Grandpa Tom is from my teenage years when we used to do gardening together under the watchful supervision of my dear old Gran (Sheila). Gran was a very small, frail lady, who was partially sighted but possessed with a great spirit and energy, which she applied to the directions she gave her two reluctant workers as we chopped, dug and scraped our way around their small back-garden. We didn’t say much to each other, but we shared that bond you get when suffering quietly in adversity, as I balanced precariously at the top of a ladder while Grandpa Tom collected the rubbish down below.

Lunchtime would always be the same: chicken-flavour Bachelor super noodles followed by a chocolate roll, or two if we were lucky. On extra special occasions we might even get beans and cheese on toast and a cup of tea before trudging back outside to get covered in cuts and bruises in what must be the prickliest garden in the whole of Ramsgate. Continue reading »

The dark and murky world of dental ghostwriting

I used to be a ghostwriter. Between 2011 and 2014, I wrote countless articles for the great and good of the healthcare sector, from dentists and dental nurses to practice managers, associates and business professionals. While the concept of the ghostwriter may seem a fairly innocuous profession, most people won’t realise just how common it is across print and online media, and just how problematic it can be.

In this blog I hope to shed some light on some of the things I got up to during my time as a ghostwriter, working primarily in the dental sector, writing for publications including Dentistry, The Dentist and The Probe…  Continue reading »

Cars, guns and inevitable automation

I was struck recently by an advertising campaign from German car manufacturer Audi for its new Q5. In the video, posted on YouTube and appearing in cinemas here in the UK, we see an Audi Q5 driving through the rain with a series of overlays highlighting technological innovations such as sign recognition, adaptive suspension and ‘Audi Pre-Sense’ for anticipating dangers before they occur. The advert closes with the claim that ‘It doesn’t just drive. It thinks.’ Continue reading »

The things that shape us

So there I was yesterday, furiously wracking my brains for something to blog about, when I started rooting around in the old documents folder on my PC. I had completely forgotten about the many varied things I had saved in there. From old maths homeworks to CAD drawings, MS Paint doodles, screenshots and poetry, I spent several hours sorting through a veritable treasure trove of assorted memories and random files accumulated over the best part of 15 years.  Continue reading »