This was to be my latest, updated, alumni profile for Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) but they still require me to fill in little boxes on a form like a semi-educated trainee (so that they can control what people can and cannot write?) and not the educated, intelligent person that I am which is bizarre because the SHU helped me to develop into an educated and intelligent human being. After trying for several years I gave up trying to get the SHU alumni department to accept a text of what it meant for me to study at the university. They do not help ‘individual’ people. It seems that the SHU alumni department is simply there to trumpet the achievements of people either in business or in ‘successful’ careers, in other words people who have ‘status’ and ‘prestige’. I have neither but I do feel that I have followed my dream throughout my life and at the same time helped others who are also aware that all is not well with our society.
I have never earned ‘good money’ but my riches are much more satisfying and useful than ‘position’ and ‘prestige’ in this corrupt and corrupting society. Below is what I really wanted to put on their alumni site:
After an unsatisfying and unsuccessful ‘career’ in Electrical Engineering and feeling in desperate need of a complete change, I did a 2-year part-time certificate course in English Studies, as a mature student at the Sheffield Polytechnic and was so impressed by the staff, their support and the student life at the Collegiate campus that I enrolled on the BA(Hons) course. This wasn’t easy because I had no money to support myself and had to borrow from friends and family but I was determined to escape the rat-race of work (boring, soul-destroying job), a castrating mortgage and being simply a mindless and soulless ‘bread-winner’.
I learned so much; I was hungry for knowledge and remember being removed from the Collegiate library many times at the end of the day. Our visits to theatres – The Royal Exchange, Manchester, The Crucible, Sheffield, The Royal Shakespeare at Stratford upon Avon, among others - to help us understand Shakespeare and many other dramatists were both educational and social. The social life at the Polytechnic was fantastic – just like the academic life and I soaked it up like a sponge.
My personal tutors were Jane Rogers and Barry Hines, both well-known and accomplished writers, and I learned much from them and thank them for their help and guidance.
In my penultimate year at the newly-named Sheffield Hallam University I helped to run the social events at the University of Sheffield, English Language Teaching Centre, Summer School to earn some much-needed money. This involved taking students from other countries on tours of cultural cities – Oxford, Cambridge, York, Liverpool, London, Edinburgh and all around the Sheffield environs - and while working there I met a student who stayed behind after the course ended. Eventually we married, so, all-in-all, my time at SHU was certainly the best time of my life and I am grateful for all the help that I got from the tutors and I apologize belatedly for all the headaches that I caused pulling information out of them day after day, month after month – for several years.
I didn’t do the BA course to help me ‘get a good job’ although I wanted to teach – and I did for a time but, mainly, I wanted to write and to be able to support myself as a writer. It has been far from easy – especially when I look at others who are earning ‘good money’ in commerce and business but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have been finely focused and very persistent. I think that if you want something in life then you have to believe in yourself – and be thick-skinned in times of adversity and dire-straits.
So far, I have completed three nonfiction typescripts: I have traveled around Turkey with my partner visiting areas that few Europeans had visited before and wrote Travels in Turkey about those experiences. I lived and worked at the world-famous Findhorn Spiritual Community in the Highlands of Scotland and wrote On the Beach at Findhorn about my time there. I have studied belief systems and groups with political power since I was in my early teens and all of my adult life and I have written a book The Future is You, which is about highly questionable world politics and a mainly ‘Buddhist’ way of improving the present greed-fueled societies that are making so many people mentally and physically ill now. However, no mainstream publishers considered them commercial enough so I tried publishing them as ebooks but, so far, this has been less than satisfying. I still have a satire TS although I'm not too sure where that will go and I have quite a few other ideas for fiction simmering away.
While doing my degrees (I also did an MA in Film Studies at the Psalter Lane campus) I studied politics (generally) and also useful aspects of Buddhism becoming a member of a local Buddhist community. I also studied the teachings of J Krishnamurti and, at the same time, did a teaching course and guided students with ‘learning difficulties’ caused by dyslexia. (This was quite some time before I discovered that I had suffered from disnumerica all of my life). My life at university was full to the brim. The parties we went to were amazing – full of interesting people from all over the world, all of us fired up with many and varied interests, ideas and different perspectives.
Presently, we live in Northumberland, far from the madding crowds, where I write my book TSs, convert them to epub format and develop ideas for more and write a contentious blog – all in an old cottage with views along a beautiful river valley.
Read my contentious blog and see my writing website: Keith Gascoigne author-publisher at www.yoruk.co.uk. You might learn something from them.
I never managed to upload the basic version of this (the original was much shorter) to the SHU alumni website and gave up trying. I hope this might inspire at least a few people to follow their dream, well out of the main-stream rat-race. It isn’t easy but it is immensely rewarding.