Today, 1 September 2020, marks exactly ten years since I joined the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway and arrived in the Queen’s Building to begin unpacking my books and settling in. I recently returned to my office (dusty, but otherwise unchanged) for the first time since lockdown restrictions were imposed in March to bring home some of those books to help me through the next twelve months of research and writing. Today marks the start of a period of research leave generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust which will allow me, with a bit of luck, to bring to fruition the work on Macintosh I have been pursuing for much of my time at Royal Holloway.
I wrote previously about what a privilege it is to have this time to devote myself full time (at least as long as schools remain open!) to the task of research and that sense has only increased as I have watched my colleagues and my other half prepare for the challenges that teaching at university will bring in 2020/21. While I begin this period with a real sense of gratitude and excitement, I approach it also with some trepidation. The feelings of impostor syndrome that I know affect many academics are always particularly acute at the beginning of any writing project and I find myself occasionally mildly alarmed at the size and complexity of the task ahead. In the currently context—when life in general is defined by a multitude of very grave uncertainties—this is, of course, not a bad problem to have and I look forward to what I will learn as my ideas and words take shape on the page.