WritingThe Academic Wife, 2020

My toe is occasionally dipped in academia, if needs must. It is a battleground, a froth of egos and ruthless agendas which owe little to the real world. Patriarchy is endemic, and profit drives the Deans. Inclusivity and equality are only gods if they bring gain. It is a secret and closed world of fascinating and sometimes utterly deplorable people. Luckily, for the outsider, the National Library of Scotland offers a vignette of the hard core, the rejects, the independents, the aspirers. And also the old guard. The self-containment of older women researchers came to intrigue me, and still more so as it emerged that they often were – and are – wives of retired academics. Committed, purposeful, disciplined, organised. Invisible, silent, alone, somehow always waiting. For what? While the husband, often studiedly unkempt, is confident and venerable, she is …. nothing. The housekeeper to Professor Branestawm, glimpsed, but not seen, in the corner of an eye. So who is she? “I am sure I know Maudie Grey”, a senior member of library staff said of this short story. Yes, but do you really? No spoilers.