This PhD thesis would not have come to fruition without the help of numerous inestimable contributors.
Woodland walks of the West Midlands: our regular meetings were essential for the development of key ideas within this project, and for my mental health. The scones and parkland footpaths provided by the National Trust (especially Hanbury Hall) have been equally valuable to my personal and professional development.
On the subject of scones, where would I be without my innermost circle of consumable supporters? The cappuccinos of Manhattan 70s (Cotteridge, Birmingham) and Starbucks’ Blonde Americano fuelled many of the 80,000 words that form my thesis. The concept of cake gave me a reason to carry on: whether I was baking it or eating it, that delicious crumbly matter has proven deeply therapeutic throughout my studies.
Several individuals have provided emotional support through the difficult final stretch of the writing process. I am indebted to the mystery cat who appears occasionally outside our living room window for pets, the podcast My Favourite Murder, and the utterly-inspirational Little Women (2019, dir. Greta Gerwig). Other indispensable allies have taken the form of anthems. To name a select few: Waking up Slow (piano version), Gabrielle Aplin; Move Along, All American Rejects; and Into the Unknown, Frozen 2. Together with the collected works of My Chemical Romance, Sia, Muse, Florence and the Machine, and Johnny Flynn, these compositions provided guidance when I needed it most.
Sincere thanks are also due to Lin-Manuel Miranda. Your pep talks made the beginning of each workday more bearable, and your world-changing wordsmithery got me through many stressful car journeys. I will never forget that you liked my tweet on 16 November 2018 at 14:31 GMT.
There are more significant figures worthy of mention, though I cannot hope to do justice to all here. Escape to the Chateau, The Crown, The Great Pottery Throw Down, The Great British Bake Off: I count you all among my heroes. Candles and motivational postcards: I couldn’t have got this far without you. Whisky: the friendship we developed over the past year will doubtless last a lifetime. Weekends, cheese, chocolate, and bed: you are the pillars of my life; my devotion to you knows no bounds.
All that remains is to thank you, the reader, for sticking with me through this emotional rollercoaster. I hope it hasn’t been too ruff.