Blog post 5: Surprising as a Slinky
When I was looking for a subject for a research project aged sixty six, I knew I needed it to keep me amused for a long time and had to be based on my areas of interest and expertise. It needed to be as complicated as hopscotch, but simple as a skipping rope. It needed it to be as exciting as the rope swing over the river, but snuggly as a bedtime story. Stretchy as potty putty, surprising as a slinky, bouncy as a ball.
I homed in on the subject of women, women of my age and women whose families had travelled way from home. I could interview the women I meet when we go to New Zealand and America on our prolonged visits to our children. I pondered that our generation of women has a new story to tell. The particular beliefs, family history and separation are unique. If it is true that there is no one better to tell the story of a group than someone from within it, then I could be that woman. At the University I was steered towards the department of Ethnology and Folklore and The Elphinstone Institute. I wrote a proposal, sent it, and with guidance from Dr Tom Mackean wrote it again, and again over that summer.
And so it was that in 2019, I began a six-year part-time PhD in Ethnology at Aberdeen University a half an hour drive away. It hadn’t got a title as yet but it was to be on the experience of being a contemporary grandmother and how the subject of family history is being addressed.