The high winds blew over the wheelie-bin last night. I’d been woken often and for long. 7.40 am: ‘Up! This is late!’ Alarm was converted into haste. 8.15 am: A micro breakfast and communion before racing out of the front door like a schoolboy running for his bus. 9.00 am: At the School and the kettle, readied for the Thursday slog.
I’d an hour before my Personal Tutorial drop-in hour, at 10.00 am, in which to attend to general admin, various self assessments, and postgraduate applications. ‘How fast can I do this without incurring incompetence?’, I asked myself. (Efficiency and proficiency must always go hand-in-hand.) Students attend drop-ins with anything from a simple request to change a module to a life problem that is both bewildering and heartbreaking. The tragic loss of one of our own university students recently, as well as of two from other institutions, underscores their vulnerability. At times, as tutors, all we can do is hear them out. Sadly, we may be the first people to have listened to them. ‘Suffer not in silence’. Sometimes, you need only one person in this world to believe in you, in order to make the world of difference to you.
10.45 am: Sustenance. As a Marmite convert, I can be very evangelical about its benefits:
11.30 am: On with third-year painting tutorials. ‘Imparting the imperative’ was today’s motto. Before teaching can begin, the soil must be tilled and the weeds, uprooted. Some observations and principles derived from today’s engagements:
- If you really want something, you’ll work your hardest to get it. Passion and determination are reciprocal.
- Neglecting is not the same as rejecting an idea. The latter implies that you’ve made a considered choice after some reflection.
- Face up to the hardest thing first. If you don’t, then the hard thing will get even harder. Difficulties grow like weeds.
- To paint an object is to engage with it sensually, intimately, respectfully, and lovingly. It’s a form of erotic play … almost.
- Painting marks out a territory that no other medium can inhabit. Therefore discover what it is, and stay there.
- What are you interested in within the painting? Determine that, and remove the rest.
- Why should an audience find your work engaging, if you don’t?
- Three things are necessary: quality, vision, and ambition.
- Commit yourself to the implications of the work.
- T: ‘You may like the technique, but does the work require it?’
1.00 am: A working lunch.
1.30 pm: Back on the floor, I moved from one student (one world) to another, endeavouring to construct a doable plan of action for the weeks ahead. There are times when the tutorials are conducted in ‘darkness’, and neither tutor nor tutee can locate the light switch. And there are times when a radiance pours down upon both, unannounced.
4.30 pm: I was flagging. If I were a battery indicator, I’d be in the ‘red’ 19% charge zone, flashing ‘LOW’ and ‘SHUTTING DOWN ALL UNNECESSARY PROGRAMS”. 5.30 pm: Homeward.
7.30 pm: At this time of the year, the business and busyness of this and last semester are often in conflict. It’s like trying to serve two voracious masters. I pushed on with admin for both, while picking away at my chapter in the background. My elder son is home. A delight.