I have flashbacks to an interview, where I successfully made my case for the bursary that covered the costs of the first few years of the research. The person chairing that interview has since retired, as have at least five other individuals in the University who had some form of significant influence over proceedings at one stage or another. That being said, the University I started my research in does not even exist anymore! This thesis has outlived careers and institutions, such has been the protracted nature of its progress.
I bought a house, okay, with a lot of help and others people’s money, but it’s still mine. We had bearded Americans move in, and bearded Americans move out. We went from having no pets, to having three cats, two dogs and as many horses – it would seem that for each year of the thesis the animals incrementally increased in size, a sixth year, while resulting in an overall failure, would surely have had to have been commemorated with the purchase of some manner of domesticated bison. And while we have not quite got married during the period of research, we did get engaged right in the middle of it all – perhaps submission will actually allow for that ceremony now!
I started my research in Wales. Before long I had taken tea in the House of Commons, discussed Nazis in the National Museum of Ireland, flown to Iceland with a French documentary filmmaker, then been given a book by every museum professional (there were a lot of them) I met in Iceland, got lost in the wastelands that surround the airport in the capital of Greenland, Nuuk, before distributing Welsh flags in every cultural building that I could find in Greenland. Oh yes, we also went scampering around live volcanoes and narrowly avoided being sunk by increasingly large icebergs, but those are stories for another time. One day, I’ll really need to work out the carbon footprint of the thesis – for a consideration of heritage in Wales, I think it’s going to be surprisingly large.
I was in my twenties when I started, and thirties now I’m finishing – which makes the whole process sound a lot longer than it actually was, but equally makes me feel tremendously old. Wales have won two Six Nations championships in that time, and reached a World Cup semi final, while the Lions won a test series, all of which surely bodes well for the viva I’m sure. While I have been able to enjoy some sporting glory, there are lots of other things that I have not been able to enjoy. I don’t even remember the feeling of cold mud under a pillow made from t-shirts, such is the length of time that has passed since I last went to a music festival. Exhibitions have proven to be too far away to be able to justify the time, films too expensive a luxury as the bursary began to run out. Birthday celebrations of loved ones were missed as time became a slave to the whip of editing, and for that, and to each of you who I did not celebrate with, I am sorry, and hope you will let me make up for it with birthdays to come.
Yet a week from now, those few hundred pages will have been printed and bound, packaged up and sent away. Life may resume. I’m not sure what will come first, going to rugby matches, booking up some festivals somewhere, catching up on the latest touring exhibition in the British Museum, reading something that is not related to the thesis, or reading something that is not related to the thesis but not feeling terribly guilty about doing so, seeing where computer gaming is after parting ways with it about half way through the thesis, or returning to my beloved kendo and smacking some skulls with bamboo. Maybe, just maybe, sitting down without having to think about what needs correcting in which chapter, will suffice for day 1, there’s plenty of time for catching up on all the other things from day 2 onwards!
The end...until the viva...