Lose some, win some: and looking forward to the Royal Academy
I have a proud little success to report, as you'll see if you read down. But, in case some of you regular readers, are getting fed up with Beard's honours loading this website, let me start with a good and proper FAILURE.
I have just failed to get a three-year funded stretch of research leave in the shape of a British Academy Wolfson Research Professorship. Well done to all who were successful, whoever you are! It's a brilliant scheme which gives the lucky winners (there are 4 in this current round) three years funding to pursue a project with a "public engagement" commitment). I was happy to get through to the long list stage -- with a proposal focussing on the writing up of my Mellon Lectures at the NGA in Washington on the representation of Roman emperors in Renaissance and later art (how much more "public engagement" can you get, I thought.. and the lectures themselves went down a storm I felt, even though I say it myself.. and opened up a real new subject...oh well).
Anyway, it was not to be. And I feel a bit rueful. For obvious reasons; but also because I know in my heart of hearts that, if I am going to do the next really good piece of research, I need a bit of serious THINKING TIME -- and that's the one thing I am certainly not getting right now. And I also need a real good excuse to turn a few gigs down which the Wolfson award would have given me. Bugger, bugger...
So why mention this? I cant imagine that there are too many tears out there ("lucky prof fails to get 3 years leave..." is hardly a sob story). But, as I've said, I think that I might need to undermine the idea that MB just goes from success to success! But I also think it's quite a good idea to share a bit of the downside of life as well as the up.
We're always taught to keep quiet about our failures and take it silently on the chin. But, actually, isnt it a good idea for everyone to know that even the apparently most successful people dont win all the prizes? Lets think about managing NOT MAKING it, as well as celebrating success. More of us, after all, lose rather than win! (Reminds me of the old puzzles about the Roman Rebublic --we all concentrate too much on those who got the consulship, we forget about those who were the near misses.)
Anyway, as if to make up for that, today I have been immensely cheered at beimg elected to the Professorship of Ancient Literature at the Royal Academy. I have been a fan of the RA for years, have written in their magazine, and co-curated an exhibtion there (loans from the Ny Carlsberg in Copenhagen some moons ago).
The Professorship of Ancient Literature was held by my friend Eric Handley, who died recently; and the Professorship of Ancient History is held by one of my heroes, John Boardman. And blimey, the first Prof of Ancient Literature was Samuel Johnson. So this will be fun and good. There are apparently no duties... but I have in mind to get a classical angle in there when I can.
And if anyone knows ... oh dear... how I might get a bit of real thinking time, do let me know,