My wife Julie is the clever clogs of the family. MA (Cantab), PGCE, MA (Open University). I have an MA (Cantab) and a BTh Hons (Nottingham). Once I could put ALA after my name, until I stopped being an Associate of the Library Association. Apparently it is now called CILIP which I guess is Chartered Institute of Library and Information Practitioners (slightly ironically their website doesn’t spell it out!).
After a year or so in Derby we decided we needed to stretch our brains. Derby University were starting an MA in Public History and Heritage, and launched it at Kedleston Hall. The cake alone was enough to make us want to sign up. The course started in September 2017. There were about a dozen of us on the course – half youngsters in their 20s, fresh out of a History degree, doing it full time; the other half oldies like us, usually taking 2 years. We have made some friendships that will last.
My BTh degree from Nottingham was my theology while training at Lincoln Theological College. Nottingham was the first university going on to Semesters. I said then (1993) that that was a stupid idea, and I haven’t changed my opinion. Wasting several weeks in January/February is just daft. Anyway in the first we studied Heritage management, funding and marketing and Curation and conservation in a digital world. In Heritage management Julie did some work on Alice Wheeldon (a Derby supporter of Women’s Suffrage), I looked at our Lusitania memorial in St Matthew’s churchyard (Darley Abbey), and we got that renovated. We will draw a veil over being digital, not an experience either of us got much out of!
Next was Audiences and audience development and a Public History consultancy. Elvaston Castle was a place where Julie got stuck in the mud, certainly not a local attraction we are desperate to get back to. I enjoyed Crich trams (and my research is the basis of their Mail exhibition last summer and next summer – I’m very pleased with what they did with it), Julie enjoyed Elizabeth Gaskell House in Manchester.
This year was Politics of history in the first semester. I did a paper on War memorials which you can read at http://eastmidlandshistory.org.uk/magazine-issue-9-out-now/ . Julie did more on the Suffragettes. In the second it was Current debates in global heritage, with a presentation on the Darjeeling line from me and one on Eva Peron from Julie. We also wrote longer dissertations – Lindisfarne for me, Writer’s Houses for Julie (just a shame so much work is read by only two people!). Here is Adrian Shooter’s Darjeeling loco.
Thanks to our lecturers (though I haven’t forgiven Kathleen for commenting that she wasn’t born when I first visited Crich), and we enjoyed using the library and Blackwell’s. Derby Theatre is part of the Uni, so gives discount and free wifi in the cafe – Julie calls it my creche, she leaves me there while shopping in the INTU centre. Thanks too to Derby Diocese for some funding and to the Trustees of Lichfield Theological College for some more. We paid for the bulk of my course and all of Julie’s – I remember the days when Uni education was free. If you want to know more about the course have a look at https://www.derby.ac.uk/postgraduate/history-courses/public-history-heritage-ma/
We graduated on Thursday 21 November. Hannah had arrived last night. I had to do a funeral visit in the morning and J had to go to Toddlers, then I went to the station to collect Harry. We then drove to the Arena and managed to blag our way through the crowds to get in – bacon sandwiches were what was required. There was, as always at these things, a lot of hanging around, but eventually the kids were seated. We robed – the chap from Ede & Ravenscroft tried to tell me how to wear a hood – and had our photo taken for the Derby Telegraph. Robe hire is expensive (£51 each), but it was good to see “Graduation services Cambridge” on our bank statement. I ended up on row K with Rebecca, Ruby, Claire and Mollie, and Julie was sat on the front row. It was long – lots of young ladies in unsuitable outfits wobbling across the stage. Then they awarded an Hon Degree to someone I’d never heard of, then there were more degrees.
Eventually it was our turn. Everyone had to climb the steps onto the stage, walk across, shaking two hands, then down the other side. Except Julie. They had a lift on one side. She had to go up, wheel across, shake hands, turn round, wheel back (avoiding me), and down on the lift – not falling off the stage while she did it. Then a few more. The chap from Chatsworth then gave a speech, and Claire (one of our colleagues) gave the vote of thanks – she was superb. She’s the clever-clogs who got a distinction, but she worked rather harder than we did (probably harder than we both did put together!).
It took a while to get out, and even longer to drive through Pride Park. We had to throw Harry out for him to run for his train. I was supposed to be singing Evensong at the Cathedral, but had to phone en route. We had fish and chips from George’s, then Hannah drove home. I am glad we did it – a bit of maths says I’ve been to 14 family graduations (2 x dad, 3 x me, 4 x Julie, 3 x Hannah, 1 x Gareth, 1 x Harry).
The press office at the University were keen to tell the world about us. We ended up in the Derby Telegraph – https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/derby-news/good-lord-derby-vicar-wife-3672658 – and on BBC Radio Derby (twice). The Diocesan press office were not interested. Our churches were very enthusiastic – we could not have done it without their support (or without the office photocopier!!).
What now? Change my letter head to “MA (Cantab), MA (Derby), BThHons (Nottm)”. Finish paying for it. Catch up on all that reading I haven’t done (Julie is always reading – have a look at her blog https://northernreader.wordpress.com/). Find some interesting short courses. Mention in a Ministry Development Review that I have done this MA, wait for the promotion and the pay rise (sorry, I forgot, I work for the Church of England).
You might like to look at the lettering on the mugs …