Both of you might have been wondering what has happened to Chesteretté these past few weeks. Of course, neither of you might have been wondering that at all. Theburunderthesaddle might, for all I know, have been like a virtual frontier town, the wind whistling through the old posts, cyber tumbleweeds grouping for protection around my profile description, and somewhere in the distance the sound of a harmonica wheezing out a haunting chorus of Dixie.
But, I can assure you that nothing but the most pressing of responsibilities prevented me from frittering away another few hours of my life on blogspot. Indeed, it was nothing less than the preparation for my doctoral viva ...
... oh yes, the doctoral viva. Hours, days, weeks of feverish and often ineffectual preparation were distilled down to about seventy of the sweatiest minutes I'm likely to endure this side of the Equator during which the two examiners sat themselves just far enough apart for me to feel threatened AND surrounded.
But in the end ... I passed with 'a minor' which means I have to make a few changes to the text and have the thesis rebound before it is finally accepted. My external examiner has suggested one or two interesting pistes I should explore for publication, though I shall not mention them here. I discovered in our discussions that he has himself just secured a contract with Continuum for a book about the English Catholic literary revival (now where did he get that idea from? From his wife, he told me!). (See: http://theburunderthesaddle.blogspot.com/2007/01/whats-in-name.html). That'll teach me to keep my big mouth shut!
Anyway, I passed. Ta daaaa!
So, it's done (more or less) and my first real holiday for about four years can begin once I've handed in my corrections.
It's still the calm after the storm at the moment. I retired to family near Basingstoke on the day and shortly afterwards headed back to Manchester where I was greeted by a victory parade in my honour around Albert Square.
As you can see, Manchester, 'the rainy city', lived up to its name on the day.
And so here I am, back in the bosom of the old Alma civitas, tapping my fingers with impatience and wondering what to do with myself. Role on the next doctorate (and you can take a running jump if you think I'm going to reveal what its about!).