There’s something strange about working in a room in a house full of children. With Glasgow far away, and driving still a challenge, I work from home on the days that I can. I sit in our back room, and have the closest thing to a retreat possible. A desk, a sofa-bed, internet. It gets cold in here once the heating goes off, and so I go to the shed, collect armfuls of logs, handfuls of kindling and spend some time making a fire and keeping it going.
In the meantime, there are the comings and goings of family. The eldest needs driving to and collecting from nursery, the twins get up and go down, I can hear crying, whispering, laughter and conversation through the closed door. I am in the same space as my family, but not with them.
Work provides a window into the world at large –away from this hillside, from this valley. The world of work is busy with tweets, emails, students, colleagues, people I know, people I don’t know, prison staff, men and women trying to make some way in their lives with a criminal record. So many connections, both made and unmade. But it is also quiet, time to let new thoughts arise, to sit and think about the best way to analyse, the implications of a quote, the links to what is already known.
It is a tricky balance, work and family, and now that I have three children I sometimes feel the guilt of never getting it right. But without the people outside the door, this space would not feel quite so peaceful, quite so precious. And without the work, family would feel claustrophobic. Just now, I found out from my four year old that there are FIVE [edit: now SIX] presents under the Christmas tree. What could be more exciting?