“common threads…”

“Both the world of fashion and the Court of Chancery are things of precedent and usage…” 

so Charles Dickens tells us in the opening paragraph of Chapter 2 in Bleak House. And by so doing he gives us the courage to make the leap of faith (as so many of his writings do) to connect in our imagination things that we might never have conceived of as somehow connected; nor indeed had the courage to so connect.

It is the very breed of courage that Maya Angelou speaks of when she said:

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

And I hope; it is the kind of courage that at age 53 has enabled and empowered me amidst a very active business life, running a small psychotherapy practice and a somewhat large recording studio (seemingly irreconcilable “threads” you might at first imagine) and an even more active family life (with my lovely wife Chanel and my two children Charlie aged 8 & Catherine aged 2) to embark upon an International Programmes LLB.

LLB student and new blogger Mark Pummell

LLB student and new blogger Mark Pummell

But there it is and here I am; and all in all I am very happy to have been accepted as a new blogger on this the University of London International Programmes – Official Student Blog. I have a mind to write about some matters that particularly relate to the study of law but also hope to touch on something to do with the subject of study; in particular something of the beauty of the process of studying rather than perhaps the rather more often visited “managing exam terror”/”how to learn 300 cases in six minutes”/”how to remember everything your tutor ever told you” etc. kind of posts and something of the joy/s (there I said it) of being a self-study student (which I am) but I am also very open to tackle any topics that our blog readers would like discussed if I feel I have something of real interest to say on said topic; so please feel free to suggest away!!!

Meg Saligman's Philadelphia wall mural Common Threads image (Courtesy: http://phillypartyambassador.com)

Meg Saligman’s Philadelphia wall mural Common Threads image (Courtesy: http://phillypartyambassador.com)

Just as we look for “common threads” to make sense of our lives; to connect us with the lives of others so we look for intellectual and emotional threads or themes that connect our areas of interest (be they academic or otherwise); but as I have grown older & I hope that ten cents wiser I have developed the ability to be that little bit more patient with myself, others and that interminable process that we call education and am increasingly happy to allow things to unfold and to an extent unravel yet to have an inner confidence and faith that what I need will eventually be revealed to me.

During World War 2 my mother’s mother sewed ammunition belts ’til her fingers bled to put my mother through school (pretty “common threads” you might say), my father’s mother raised my father to be the great man he still is (he turned 85 last week) single-handed whilst looking after her handicapped brother at the same time, yet I never once saw anything but joy and heartfelt concern on their collective faces. So right now when i have to get up at 6:30 am to finish an essay or read up on a new case or two it really doesn’t feel that much of a burden; the common threads that run through my past, context my present and illuminate my future are strand by strand (much as a complex ratio is unpacked in a legal judgement) being revealed to me; and that is the freedom & wonder that only education can provide.

It is also the common thread that joins us all, as students to a common and ultimately greater purpose. Does my head ache at times; sure it does for as Dickens once wrote:

“Chancery Justice is so ve-ry difficult to follow”

Mark is studying the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) by distance learning in Shanghai, China.

6 Responses to “common threads…”

  1. Indra says:

    Thank you, sometimes I do feel despair trying to balance my 8-4 job, two primary school aged kids, a husband who works shifts at the hospital, cooking, cleaning etc and pursuing UoL LLB. It really helps knowing that others are making the same sacrifice and effort with joy.

  2. markpummell says:

    bless you Indra; if this makes you feel a little less alone and even 1% more joyful then you have made my day!!!

  3. Sachie Ramnauth says:

    Kudos to you. I thought I was the only at this age enrolled in LLB. Each time I log on to the site and look at the young students, I ask myself why am I doing this at 55 years and wish I had started earlier. Yet, I am determined that I have to get it completed before I am 60 and in preparation for a new career at 65. Did they say that brain cells deteriorate with age? Of course they do trying to recall those cases for my contract and criminal law studies are a daily struggle. With the support from my spouse and his commitment, I know I can accomplish my goals. As one ages and reflect on life, I realize that each phase of my life opened to me a world of vast explorations and it is up to me to decide where I want to dive and what treasures I want to retain.

  4. markpummell says:

    & to you too Sachie; love and share the positive sentiment… remember that “all that glitters” may just be gold!!!

  5. Steven Basford says:

    In reply to Mark Pummell and Sachie Ramnauth. I must applaud you both for undertaking what must be construed as a most arduous challenge at your ages regardless of your reasoning to do so, it is reassuring as I too am contemplating this assault, that dare I say I was to have committed to some 30 years ago and now having reached the 55 not out milestone am dubiouos of my intellect and stamina to persevere through the prevailing tide of cases to be read along with set exams fears. Where did that time go! I am however reminded of the George Eliot quote “It’s never too late to be what you might have been”. Having been forced to ascertain a new career and depsite having already gained a double BA so many moons ago and attended graduate school, the economic cost and flexibility of a University of London LLB (graduate entry) is most appealing, especially when one considers the cost of a JD. I dont know whether to embark on the 4/5 2 year model or 3×3 over 3 years I am inclined to do the former and expedite proceedings. Nonetheless I have two specific questions for you both if you don’t mind. Are either of you undertaking to do the qualifying degree whether it be solicitors or bar, and secondly, are you or anyone for that matter using an independent company to support your studies e.g. legal tutors or cilex law school? Cheers and good luck!

  6. markpummell says:

    lovely to hear from you; yes Steven i have every intention of practising if i am able to… very best of luck… think very carefully about the 2 year programme… i am on the 3 x 3 and even that (in spite of a couple of degrees under my belt) is proving to be a very substantial workload… that said (& see some of my later posts to prove the point) is proving an absolutely wonderful process!!!

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