Joy, hope, peace, trust, obedience, thanksgiving, and love.
December 23–30, 2019
December 31, 2019–January 1, 2020. We drove to Manchester to take our younger son and his belongings home, as well as spend the transition from 2019 to 2020 in less familiar surroundings. The hotel overlooked the Cathedral area:
From there, we had a grandstand view of the city’s pyrotechnic display as the New Year was cheered in. The loud thumping sub-woofery, which had bounced off the adjacent buildings, ceased when the rockets began to soar. That was welcome. Fireworks have their own intrinsic noises that ought not to be occluded by extraneous sounds, in my opinion.
At 11.00 am on the first day of the New Year, we attended a service of Morning Prayer-cum-Holy Eucharist at Manchester Cathedral. I’m not someone who makes resolutions at the beginning of another year. (However, I’ll hold myself accountable to new and revived determinations at pretty much any other time during the next twelve months.) Granted, the passing of the old and the arrival of the new year may, for some, provide a useful pivot point about which to reflect, and the psychological ‘umph’ necessary to put the past behind them and strain optimistically towards an unknown future. For me, a reminder of eternal verities, mortality, judgement to come, and my responsibilities to God, heart, soul, and others, was more helpful in setting the tone for the year to come.
While driving to our son’s neck of the woods, thereafter, we were involved in a car crash. (A first, for me.) While stationary at a roundabout, a vehicle went into our backend with force. I was slung forward, due to the inadequate operation of my seat belt, pulled back with force by the same, and suffered whiplash and a jolt to my lower back as a consequence. My wife was unscathed. The responsibility for the accident was entirely that of the driver behind us. Mercifully, the rear lights of our car remained intact, so we were able to travel home on the same day. People die in traffic, and other types of, accidents on New Year’s Day for no fault of their own. There’s no special grace disposed in honour of the celebration; it’s ‘just another day on earth’, to quote Brian Eno. I thanked God and counted my blessings. The outcome could’ve been far worse.
Thursday, January 2. 9.00 am: I was on a regime of pain killers, periodic astronautical-like icepacks at the base of my spine, moderate stretching exercises, standing and walking up and down stairs frequently, and remaining seated for a limited duration. A course of physiotherapy – beginning next week, when the inflammation has subsided – will be required. Today’s workflow slowed alarmingly as a consequence. I attended only to what was needful.
Having dispatched some admin, I returned to essay marking for the Abstraction module. I’d much prefer not to be marking these essays on screen at the moment. Retaining a seated posture for any length of time is uncomfortable and unconducive to recovery. However, the systems and protocols governing academic assessment are without sympathy or repentance. In the background I played Andy Mackay’s 3Psalms (2018). The distinctive timbre of saxophone and oboe playing that had distinguished his contribution to Roxy Music was still evident. The biblical content of the album resonated with my own concerns, both in sound art and visual art. (See: Settings of the Psalms.) Mackay has studied for a degree in theology, and now considers himself to be ‘an ordinary Church of England person’. It was good to hear Phil Manzanera’s guitar work again too.
The garage carted-off our crumpled vehicle shortly before 1.00 pm. By lunchtime my head was back in work mode albeit fitfully, in between activities that encouraged my lower back to move gently. 1.40 pm: ‘Another icepack, please!’ The pain killers were making me woozy. One for AW:
5.20 pm: Enough marking! The evening session had to be away from a seat and a desk.
6.15 pm: Practise session. 7.30 pm: My most recent acquisition – a Gamechanger Audio Plus sustain pedal – was put through its paces. (‘Gently does it!’) The technology for generating infinite sustain (other than via a sustainer pickup built into the guitar) has been a longtime in coming. In essence, the device captures a digital micro-sample of the played note and, then, intelligently loops the source to create a seamless note of any desirable duration. It was exquisite in action: