A bit more about your life now, what is life like?
Still hard work, lots of pressure, you know, you have got to keep writing stuff and doing your own research on the side of publishing. But I suppose I'm in the discipline where people go into it because it is something they are interested in and its something you enjoy, you know, and so you are quite happy to do long hours and do the extra bit. But I enjoy that.
There is always hanging over me that sort of insecurity because it is the short-term contract and I've got a year left – 12 months left on this one. Nothing in the pipeline yet and you always keep an eye on the job market. I've never actually walked out of a contract early. Actually, they have always told me here that if the right job comes up I must apply for it – they very much stressed that with this contract. I think insecurity is the thing, but I remember feeling quite insecure when I was doing the PhD anyway and so… Recently having the staff development review, we discussed this and it is almost like the insecurity has become a way of life.
Can you explain that a bit more?
In that you know there could be periods where there is going to be that unemployment and you can't see what is coming in next month but then aren't a lot of people like that in this country? Self-employed people: plumbers, brickies, labourers and things like that. On a building site now it is very rare these firms actually employ people directly; everything is contracted, sub-contracted, sub-contracted. And so if I start thinking like that I think 'well, actually I'm not the only one.'
Do you think there is anything about the PhD experience that equips you to deal with uncertainty?
It helps you get used to it, certainly that.
And can you give me an idea of what a typical day might be like for you?
For me at the moment?
Come in early, switch the computer on, make a coffee, do all the emails, by the time I've done that I want another coffee! And literally I've got various jobs I have to do in this project and I'm just working down my list of jobs I have to do. These are the smaller ones. We've got a meeting next week about some big things they are going to see if I can get done and so I will sit down with the project director and my line manager and decide what to do with that. It has been very much I'm just left on my own. They say 'oh this needs doing' and I get on with it. It was on coins, I'd never worked on coins in my life before. 'Coins' – that's money you spend, and so I had to learn coins. I bought all the books, you know, the standard text you classify them with, how do you classify them and really just being left to get on with it.
Although I will say, if I do come up against a brick wall and I have problems there are people I can go and ask. The project director at one point said 'oh I'm going to take a few days off on holiday' and he just looked at me and said just 'manage yourself' and so I am very much left to do it.
I mean, you could only do your job with a PhD anyway?
But the very nature of this self-directed, self-management sort of work style…
Of course, yes I suppose that has actually come out from the PhD, now you talk about it yeah. It is going out and doing things independently. But then that maybe something I've increased because a lot of the gardening jobs I've done. I've been a solo gardener and being responsible for everything myself and basically having to go out and work out what needs doing and do it myself, and so I do actually have a background in that.