Life update time.
On this blog (and its subsequent social media presence) I always endeavour to do justice to the deceased that I find so interesting. To share their life stories in a respectful, entertaining way and to make cemeteries less threatening as spaces of learning and wonder. The blog turned six years old in March and I frankly never thought it would last this long – to see the events I put on sell-out enthuses me: it’s very gratifying to now people get the same sense of wonder out of exploring the dead that I do.
But whereas I speak of the dead so regularly on here, there’s one person I very rarely speak about – myself.
For the past four years I’ve worked in an office environment with Cemetery Club bubbling away very happily on the side. Towards the end of last year I decided to move on from my old job and return back to the bright lights of Canary Wharf to advance in HR/financial services. I’d felt I’d been in one place for too long and was becoming restless, so a new challenge was in order.
This was all well and good but something still felt out of place; indeed something actually felt like it was missing. I didn’t feel especially fulfilled. The job was alright but there was something else I needed to do. But, with a partner in another country and a flat to pay rent for, I was locked into what so many others of my generation find themselves in, the dreaded rat race.
Coupled with health issues faced by my mum and a complete inability as an only-child in watching both of my parents getting older, my mental wellbeing began to suffer. I found little joy in the things I was doing and doing tours and talks were a much needed antidote to my situation. My new role too was exceptionally demanding and it became clear that I wasn’t very happy.
It appeared I would have to make a choice.
Emmanuel, who I studied with on the Westminster Guides course back in 2014 had long advocated mature study might not be such a bad idea; eschewing the terribly stupid decision I’d made as an eighteen year old in foregoing university because the debt scared me. It’s a decision I have regretted ever since.
I needed to do a bit of self-care after working my arse off for so long. Coupled with the other half moving over from Amsterdam, I thought now was the right time to focus on my own development. So, in early August, I quit my job.
From next month I shall be studying for a masters in Public Histories at the University of Birkbeck.
I am beyond thrilled that I have been accepted on the course and it builds on a lot of the outreach and message that I’ve been doing with Cemetery Club through blogs, research and tours already. Queerly Departed was probably the biggest catalyst for me to go ‘fuck it, let’s give this a whirl‘ – performing public history as I do demonstrates a commitment in keeping history relevant and I want to take it further. I am also in the position where my partner can support me a little whilst I look for something part-time and I am massively excited about the year that lies ahead.
One thing from my tour guide training days that I still get comments on were my updates on how I found being back in school; prospective Westminster Guides still message me to say how useful they found my entries when they’ve researched applying for the course. So, interspersed with Cemetery Club posts, over the next few months I’ll be giving updates on how I’m finding being a mature student.
I love Cemetery Club and its existence helped me get on the course. I’m indebted to people like Sacha Coward, Nick Coveney, Dan Vo, Alfredo Carpineti, Mikey Fox and more for their support and encouragement in taking the plunge and doing something I didn’t quite have the stomach for as a yoof.
So, over the next year or so, bear with me as I grapple with the likes of queer legacies and microhistories as I finally get an academic qualification to my name. Perhaps you’ll need me for a project you’re working on? Drop me a message if you do. Sometimes you need to shake things up to keep things interesting.
This is all rather exciting – so stay tuned as I do a bit of self development and head back to school!
If you would like to support me through my studies and help keep the blog producing content, how about sharing a few pennies with me to help maintain the cost of hosting the site and keeping me researching new things through Donorbox?
Whether its a one-off tip or as a regular donor, the additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of Cemetery Club and keeping the stories of the dead alive. I also want to live on more than beans on toast, lest I end up joining the very people I write about.
If you like what Cemetery Club provides, then please support the website here.
Thank you 🙂