Hi, My Name Is Scar
I am a private investigator at WASP Investigations, a research psychologist at the University of Oxford, a volunteer counsellor at Childline, and CEO of a writing agency and a company that sells wine. I’m a poet, a soprano punk-folk singer, and an incurable bookworm. I’m also currently writing a textbook on digital forensics, set for publication later this year.
My investigative work focuses predominantly on civil cases. This means I look into people’s lives for a whole load of reasons – I am, essentially, professionally nosy. Cases can include anything from background checks on potential partners to hunting down people who owe money. About four times a year, I’ll join an investigative or research team that’s working on a larger case: generally something to do with child protection, a subject I’m very passionate about.
My academic research focuses on psychology and history of religion. Over the past decade, the Pilgrimage Project team has been studying groups of Catholics and groups of Pagans while they travel to pilgrimage sites, and talking to them about how they interact with sacred space. Along the way, we met a lot of people who said they weren’t religious but were doing the pilgrimages anyway, so we’re now studying them too.
My writing agency is called Bohemiacademia. We write, proofread, edit and translate articles in around 50 languages. We also manage social media accounts for clients. There are about 20 freelancers in total who work regularly for the company, as well as two full-time employees. So it’s a small company, but it’s growing.
Unholy Spirits sells alcoholic drinks. The idea came to me when I was setting up for my Hallowe’en party last year, and I was annoyed that I couldn’t easily find a load of good alcohol that had spooky themes. In the end I managed to scrape something together, but it struck me that there are a lot of different times of the year when people – especially pagans – might want to order alcohol on an occult theme, so now I’m in the final throes of making the website, and then you will be able to order all the witchy wine you desire.
You can find out more about any of the companies by clicking on the links at the bottom of this page (except Unholy Spirits, which as mentioned will be available soon).
“But that’s impossible”
Since a lot of people seem to think my life sounds impossible, I decided to respond to this statement.
For a moment, let’s think about why all the things I do sound like they can’t possibly fit into one person’s life.
When asked this question, the vast majority of people come up with something like “Because you can’t possibly have that many jobs and do them all properly, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.”
Well that depends.
I used to work an office job, in which I was contractually obliged to be in the office between 9.30am and 6.30pm Monday-Friday. Because I worked in a high-pressure position in a booming industry, quite often I’d get in early for a bit of peace and quiet before my team arrived, and I’d also stay late a lot of the time. After I’d commuted home at the end of the day, I’d just about have enough time and energy to down some dinner, rant about how stressful my day had been, watch some TV, and then go to bed.
But the amount of time I spent actually working while at work didn’t tally with the number of hours I spent in the office.
Sometimes we’d be having a quiet week. I’d finish halfway through the day, but I had to stay at my desk anyway, because that was The Rule. I couldn’t work on any side projects on company time without handing over the rights to my boss, according to my contract. And I spent so much time in meetings that it became a running joke, especially when I was managing a big team and most of my life was caught up in the minutiae of that.
Does that sound familiar? I bet if you wrote out what you were actually doing every minute of every day while you’re at work, you’d find something similar.
Now I work from home. My time is, to some extent, my own. It’s still a challenge to juggle four jobs and several hobbies, of course, but it’s possible.
“How do you fit it all in?”
Monday-Friday, when I wake up, I spend an hour writing, then I queue up content for Bohemiacademia’s biggest clients. I then check my emails, do the washing up, tidy anything that needs to be tidied, and then have brunch while reading a book.
Mondays are spent on business admin (client calls, marketing, accounts, backups, etc).
Tuesdays I have a standing appointment at 2pm, then I go for a walk, do some writing, come home, and do some singing practice.
Wednesdays and Fridays are spent either on investigation or work for the writing company, whichever is most pressing that week.
Thursdays are spent writing (currently my book; sometimes academic papers; occasionally poetry).
I go to the gym every evening, either before or after whatever my evening engagement is. Evening engagements include: rehearsals on Tuesdays with Aves Cantantes, a West London choir in which I am a soprano; leaving for my night shift at Childline on Wednesdays; poetry nights some Thursdays; sometimes seeing friends, etc. Generally, I hit the gym at about 9pm and am home by about 10.45, just in time to catch The Bag on the Paul Miller Show and do my nighttime wind-down routine before I go to bed with a book.
Saturdays are whatever. Sometimes I work. Mostly I don’t. Usually I meet friends, or read all day, or go for a walk in the countryside.
Y’all can get lost on a Sunday. Those are my holy days. I do all those little life-admin jobs that bring me huge satisfaction: the kinds of things my grandmother calls “pottering around”. I clean the house, go for a walk in the park, do the laundry, make a nice dinner, have a long luxurious bath while eating dessert and reading a novel, then do the ironing while catching up on my TV shows (Criminal Minds, The Big Bang Theory, Star Trek).
By the time I get into bed on a Sunday night, the sheets are clean and freshly ironed, my legs are shaved and moisturised (best feeling in the world, amirite?), and I am usually sufficiently relaxed to fall asleep quite quickly.
Scar’s Rules For Life
The thing is, working for yourself is fantastic, because it allows you the flexibility to be genuinely productive and make good use of your time, which ironically is a skill denied to a lot of office workers.
However, I have discovered over the years that it’s important to have some rules in place, and to stick to them, otherwise it’s all too easy to veer away from working at all and end up lying on the sofa eating boxes of Pringles and never leaving the house.
So, these are my rules, which probably sound a bit odd, but structure can be really important.
- Go to the gym at least four times a week.
- If you don’t want to go to the gym one day, that’s the day when you really should.
- Life’s too short for bad wine.
- If you need to go somewhere, walk there if you can.
- Go outside at least once a day.
- Don’t tell people your plans, they’ll come up with reasons why they might not work. Just do the things and surprise them later.
- No baths except on Sundays.
- If something makes very little difference to your life, but a huge positive difference to someone else’s, you should do it. Most decisions fall somewhere along a scale like this.
- All work for the week must be finished that week and can’t be carried over.
- If it’s bothering you, write it down, or put it in a song.
- You’ll fail a lot. That’s fine. Just think “fuck it” and try something different next time.
- Get dressed every day, even though you could technically work in your pyjamas. It’ll make you feel more human.
- Sometimes life will be overwhelming and you will need a day off. That’s fine, but you can’t have more than two in a row, and you can’t do it to the detriment of someone else’s life.
- If something happens to throw you out of your normal routine, get back into it as soon as possible.
- No coffee after midday, unless you’re doing a night shift.
- Try to work out why someone’s saying something as well as what the words mean.
- Never ignore intuitions, but don’t get completely swept away by them either.
- Have a nighttime wind-down routine and stick to it.
- Keep an open mind, but never so open that all your brains fall out.
- At least once a month, have a weekend where you turn off all your communication devices and spend a couple of days having a nice quiet antisocial time.
- If you’re not sure, you might as well give it a go.
- If something’s not working, quit it unapologetically.
- Periodically look back on your past few months of life, and work out whether you’d be happy with what you’ve been doing if someone told you you were about to die.
- Occasionally ask yourself what the child version of yourself would think of you now.
*These are rules that work for me. I’ve written them in the imperative because it makes them sound more like rules, and that’s how I tell them to myself. You might prefer a different set of rules. That is fine.
Find me on the internet
Academic Research: Website