Mass Observation: A Public History Project

On 12 May every year the Mass Observation Project asks people living in Britain to keep a diary and submit it for posterity. They are building up a wonderful social history archive. Lecturer Rachel Moss has documented hers on her blog here.

Meanwhile, our undergraduate student Ursula Watkins submitted the following:

May montage by Rahul Pandit, Unsplash

My Day 12th May 2020

I started my day at 7 am I snuck out of bed hoping no one else was up to have a bit of quiet time on my own. My youngest was already up watching telly. So I had a cup of coffee and started my exercise routine today was circuits 30 minutes of a mixture of cardio, weights and planks. I exercise every morning apart from Saturdays and Sundays which helps get the blood pumping and the endorphins flowing.  Breakfast was porridge made with a tablespoon of high protein yoghurt mixed in and almond milk with blueberries.  A nice healthy start oh and a cup of green tea. Today was exam day.

My first exam at home. I went upstairs to try and get my room all ready for the exam and to emulate exam conditions as much as possible. My husband had a plan to keep the boys occupied and downstairs for the duration of my exam. There are of course issues with having an exam at home

  1. Distractions from noises outside or within your home.
  2. You cannot emulate exam conditions at home however hard you try.
  3. Knowing you can go get a cup of tea or a biscuit if you really want too.

I am pleased to say I managed to ignore the call for tea and biscuits!

So sat ready in my bedroom awaiting the witching hour of 9.30 am when the paper was released.

Then six questions to look at and choose two from – decision time

The first essay written, quick spell check and read through

The second essay started partway through you think- nope not liking this press delete and choose another question, not my finest moment as suddenly you realise you have put yourself under extra pressure. The clock is ticking the minutes slip away and before you know it you have finished it checked it and submitted it with time to spare. You wait patiently for the submission email to ping into your inbox and then check your submission did go through and look at your similarity 2%. As you wander downstairs to put your phone on and it pings with messages from fellow students asking how it went and you realise that maybe it could have been better but what’s done is done and you cannot change it now so you focus onto the next. It reminded me that it is very similar to when a person puts you down and you come back with a come back its good but not brilliant but will do and then sometime later you think of something better that you could have said instead.

Lunch is next cheese on toast you want comfort food and then to clear your head so a walk to the shops is in order and a trip to the bakers for a treat.

I then check social media twitter and Facebook and read the governments update about children returning to school as I have a son in year 6 this will affect our house and my son.

Then its time for a cuppa and my treat and to watch a bit of TV nothing too taxing just something that you can watch and switch off from the mental stresses of the day.

I started to think of mt next exam on Friday and the fact that I really needed to revise so did the dutiful thing and went to revise. I had gone from the First World War to Crime and Punishment.

Before I knew it, my boys were asking me what was for tea as they were hungry so it was time to check the cupboards and fridge and fix tea. I decided to make meatballs as my boys love them, although I cheated with a shop brought sauce. So homemade meatballs with a  tomato and basil sauce and garlic bread was cooked then demolished.

Then the usual tidying up of the kitchen gets underway. I hate to come downstairs in the morning to a dirty kitchen or a sink full of dirty dishes. My sons went off to play a board game for half an hour before I would allow them to go on the trampoline and after my tea had gone down I went for a nice long soak in the bath.

8 pm is the youngest’s bedtime and we read a story about a lion and a mouse. It was really good about speaking out for yourself whatever your size. 8.30 pm eldest to bed he goes up on his own now too big for stories at bedtime.

Then its time for me to watch a bit more Telly. I don’t tend to watch lots of programmes just a few programmes that I like and tonight its “The A Word” on at 9 pm. Its another great episode and I just love Christopher Ecclestone who plays Maurice in it, he plays a great part.

Then its bed to sleep ready for another day.



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