Yesterday. This was my last full day on the conference contribution. I’m an organised man, but I like to hold back on the conclusion to a project until the eleventh hour. This encourages a sense of energy (a productive and controllable anxiety), and bridges the gap between completion and delivery. The paper, the visual presentation, and the ‘performance’ material have grown over several months. On Friday, when they go public, they’ll be feel fresh (to me). In the morning, I wrote the paper’s last two paragraphs. After lunch, I planned my journey south, purchased rail tickets, initiated multiple back-up plans for all dimensions of the project (the shop will go on), and finalised the sound-file transfer of the sample pieces. In the evening, I made trial of the sound the sound system that I’d be using, conducted a number of run-throughs with my material, and started to pack the gear for transport. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse: in order not to perform the material flawlessly so much as to prepare myself for every eventuality. I’m now ready, and before time. I’ll be able to acquit myself of my responsibilities in the knowledge and security that I’m more than reasonably prepared for whatever mishaps, oversights, and technical glitches may strewn my path. (Short of losing my voice, that is. But I’ll be taking a supply of cough and throat lozenges, just in case.)
Today. I’ve had bad dreams during the past two nights. Loss, removal, and antagonism are the common themes. Waking came as a relief. I had time to walk along the Promenade, after I’d retrieved my meds from the chemists and before a snip at the hairdressers. After the weekend storm, a fair tonnage of shale had been deposited on the walkway. It looks and feels like the three-dimensional equivalent of visual static. (Brown noise!)
After a cut and a fairly in-depth discussion about education with my hairdresser (never believe the lie that they’re all shallow ‘Sharons’), I took refuge in an other-than-usual watering hole to catch up on admin, and take-in a black decaf Americano (which my body will tolerate, very occasionally). The Barista was a Polish psychology student. Her training comes in handy when dealing with difficult customers, she remarked.
Back at the mothership, I attended to admin that my keyboard-assisted iPad had failed to deal with. The second part of the morning was dedicated to MA Fine Art students. In each case, our conversations moved beyond the territory of paint, methodology, and composition to embrace dimensions that aren’t strictly physical and perceptual and, yet, shape our attitude to, and awareness of, them profoundly:
- ‘evoking those things that don’t appear in this world but which are no less real than those that do’;
- ‘to move beyond the eyes, the mind, and the heart to another part of one’s self.
After lunch I walked to the Old College to hold one further tutorial at this level.
At some point, next year in all likelihood, all our students will be turfed out of the building, and along with everyone else, in order for a much needed restoration to begin. My peregrinations between there and the mothership will come to an end. On days like this, I feel unduly blessed to live and work in Aberystwyth. The smells of the Summer holidays persist: seaweed, salt-air, and chips. In just a few hours, the landscape that had greeted me this morning had changed markedly. Our life’s circumstances may, likewise, improve just as suddenly.
I returned to the School via the ‘cloistered park’. What’s the world coming to if you don’t have either the time or the inclination to cast a sycamore seed into the air. It’s one of those simple experiences that affirm the continuity between childhood and adulthood.
Late afternoon, I began the MA Vocational Practice module. We were looking at the topic of ‘Delivery Lectures’. The class provided mature and considered responses to the sometimes intractable problems that were set for them. Together, they make a formidable working team.
In the evening, I continued packing equipment and making preparations for my time away.