Reviews and Rhodes

23 Jul

I had my annual review yesterday at MMU. We are assigned an academic we don’t usually know or have dealings with so we can speak honestly about our progress and relationships with our supervisors. I was allocated a new reviewer this year as my previous chap has apparently broken his hip, so I was a bit unsure about how much of a “grilling” I would get as my last chap went very easy on me. Luckily I had a really nice meeting, and got some good tips and contructive feedback to use in my last year. It’s still hard to believe I’m entering my last year- where has all the time gone!

I’m still struggling to feel like I’m making any progress in the writing up process. Most days I only end up writing a few paragraphs or just constantly reviewing what I already have, so I don’t feel like I’m increasing my word count very much! I’m panicking too much about being behind on my schedule and not being able to string sentences together that sound even vaguely intelligent, so I’m not taking the time to enjoy going back over my notes and using all the stories I got so excited about during my research period. I need to adjust my outlook rather majorly if I want this year to be enjoyable rather than a chore!

Today I’ve been re-reading a book we have in the library at Tatton by Alexander Weston Jarvis called “Jottings from an active life”. I was so grateful last year to hear from an academic who was transcribing Weston Jarvis’s diary from his time in Matabeleland and kindly gave me a copy to use in comparison with Maurice’s diary from the same time. I later found this book in our library at Tatton which gives his more formalised and polished account of what happened, so I’ve been lucky to get lots of context of the Matabele War and Maurice’s hunting trip.

I just wanted to share one funny story from the book. You might remember how Maurice looked forward for many weeks to meeting Cecil Rhodes, who was undoubtedly one of his heroes. He was disappointed when he finally met him, and said that Rhodes was “older than I had imagined, and his rallying speech was inaudible to almost everyone”. It seems that Maurice wasn’t the only one to think that Rhodes would have cut a more imposing figure.

One day during the conflict Weston Jarvis went out to loot some supplies and left Rhodes sitting by the wagon reading a book. When he got back, Rhodes told him a funny story of an encounter with a man from their laarger:

“Good Day”, said the man, “have you got any fish?”
“No” said I, “I am sorry to say that I’ve got no fish”.
“Got no fish” said he, “have you got any jam?”
“No” said I, “I am sorry to say that I’m out of jam”.
“You’ve got no fish, and got no jam, what the devil then have you got?” said the man.
“You may well ask me that” said I, “I’ve got precious little left, and what I have got they’re all trying to take away from me as fast as they can”.
“I’m sorry for that” said the man, “But (looking at some six or eight books lying on the ground) you’ve got some books I see, and (picking one up on Buddhism) some pretty deep subjects too!”
“Well” said I, “I certainly do read a bit, that’s my recreation. You see, it’s pretty hard selling fish and jam all day”.
“I think it must be” said the man. “Well I’m sorry for you, for you’re a civil spoken kind of chap, and I’m still more sorry that you’ve got no fish or jam, but it can’t be helped. Good day”.
“Good day” I said, and he went back to the laager.
We naturally laughed very heartily over the incident, and wondered what the man’s feeling would be when he saw Rhodes riding the next morning at the head of the column, and discovered the man he had taken for a purveyor of tinned stores to the troops was the greatest Englishman of modern days!”

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One Response to “Reviews and Rhodes”

  1. Chris Egerton May 6, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    I’ve absolutely loved reading your accounts of Maurice. Thank you. Would really love an update on the progress of your work.

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