Saturday, 5 October 2013

Graduation University of Chichester Saturday 5th October 2013

I have set myself the goal of writing at least one blog entry each week and to kick off thought that I would write about my graduation today from the University of Chichester where I have been studying for a BA in History with Theology and Religions.

Today was a lovely sunny and warm day. I met up with my friend Mandy from the Theology course and we caught the shuttle bus to the Chichester Festival Theatre. We then met up with my other friend Helen and took our seats in the Theatre in the Park. The Vice Chancellor, Professor Clive Behagg began and ended proceedings with two inspiring speeches in which he told the story of an old lady who had been a WAAF at Bishop Otter Campus during the run up to and D. Day. The lady had visited the Bishop Otter Campus and told Professor Behagg what life was like in the command centre which was located in room E124 and how herself and a friend and colleague met in the doorway to E124 whilst changing shift at just past midnight on June 5th 1944 and how they realised that this was it the invasion had began and that in that moment the reality of what they were doing dawned on them. Until then life had been quite good, away from home meeting new friends a bit like being at university. Professor Behagg said that he wanted every graduand to take a piece of room E124 away with them and to remember what the men and women stationed on the Bishop Otter Campus during those dark days were fighting for – for our today, our future and our freedom. I had many history lectures in E124 and would always look at the plaque up on the wall, which commemorated the role of E124 as a command room in the D. Day events.

I am so glad that my two friends Helen and Mandy came with me I am so lucky to have them as friends. A great day was had by all- graduands, friends and family and Chichester staff. Professor Behagg noted that some of the professional support staff from the university volunteered to help with the graduation ceremonies a big thank you to all staff who helped and not forgetting Mark Mason who performed as orator flawlessly reading everyone’s names out and even pronounced my surname correctly in its Old English!

Friday, 21 June 2013

A story of Archaeology and Greek culture that I could not put down!

I started reading Travels in Elysium by William Azuski on a cold and wet spring day it proved to be the perfect tonic for such a dismal day. Travels in Elysium is the story of former student Nicholas Pedrosa who lands a position as assistant to archaeologist Marcus Huxley on Huxley's excavations of the lost settlement on the Greek island of Santorini (Thera) destroyed by the colossal eruption that occurred c. 3600 years ago during the time of the Minoan civilization.

Mr Azuski is a master at setting the scene and placing the characters and action in the landscape. After describing Nicholas Pedrosa's journey across Europe and the graphic account of the treacherous storm that blew up as the ship that he was travelling in crossed the Aegean Sea, on landing on Satorini the other main characters are introduced when Nicholas Pedrosa becomes entangled in the funeral procession of Benjamin Randal his predecessor who died on the excavation in mysterious circumstances. The funeral also provides the opportunity to introduce one of the main themes in the novel that of the Grecian burial rite of placing a silver coin in the mouth of the deceased to pay the boatman Charon for their journey across the river Styx to the afterlife.

The narrative of the excavation is cleverly entwined with the mythology of the afterlife and there is a good twist in the plot. Without giving anything away my favourite scene was where Nicholas Pedrosa is in Charon's boat and his barrage of questions and remarks to Charon about the journey across the Styx results in Charon pushing Pedrosa from his boat into the river! All in all an excellent book which I could not put down and a recommended read for anyone interested in Greek culture!

Travels in Elysium is published by Iridescent Publishing and is available from Amazon: