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It’s paper-writing time again at university. It’s always a challenge to write a concise, informative, balanced and provocative paper and this year is no exception. But a few days ago, I suddenly realised just how much I’ve learnt and absorbed whilst on this masters course. I found myself arguing with the books I was reading for research, acknowledging points and then refuting others. That may be something that’s quite normal for you, but for me it was a breakthrough!

This week, along with fellow masters students and tutors, I visited the Dovecot Tapestry exhibition at Compton Verney.  It’s stunning by the way, so if you get the chance, or you live or work in the Midlands, do go.  Right at the end of the exhibition, there is a group of 4 small tapestries with the signature of Peter Blake on each one.  Before the masters, I would have looked at them and moved on without much thought, but because of the contextual thinking sessions we have had, I looked at them with a different eye.  The ‘signature’ of Peter Blake was no longer a signature as it has been ‘signed’ by the weavers weaving the tapestry.  The ‘author function’ had been challenged and compromised as a direct result of the tapestry being made.

This wasn’t the only piece that I looked at differently because of my last 2 years education, but the one that most clearly demonstrated to me just how my thinking has enlarged as a result.

Going back to the essay, it’s taking me longer to write this year’s paper than last year’s because I am writing with an enlarged understanding and I keep questioning everything I write.  This is a bit of a pain because I’m never going to be satisfied with the way I have written it.  I could always write it again with a different slant.  As it is, I’ve written two versions that I’m going to show my tutor, one with a history element which he requested, and one without which allows me to put more of the points I want to raise across.  It’ll be interesting to get the feedback at my next tutorial.

Now for something completely different.  In the UK it is Remembrance Sunday, and in just a short time – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – we all stop what we are doing and remember all those people in times past and still today who died protecting our way of life, and serving us in the armed forces.  This year has special poignancy for me.  My son is in Afghanistan, so I hope you’ll join with me in wishing them well and, if you have a faith, praying for their safe return.