Where are we now?
Where are we now?
The moment you know
(David Bowie ‘Where are We Now?’, The Next Day (2013).)
8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: As the day booted-up, I played tracks from Bowie’s Blackstar (2015) and reviewed my Diary for January 11, 2016 – the day after his death, when it was announced. Two years later, I visited James Cochran’s Bowie graffiti mural, which he’d painted on the side of a store (close to where Bowie had been born), opposite Brixton Underground station. The work has become a shrine, subsequently, where fans and admirers still place their tributes:
9.15 am: I needed a day off from marking and to catch up with all my other responsibilities and deadlines. Life comes at a pace. You’ve got to stay on top of waves. A time is coming when I shall take a thinning-scissors to my life in order to remove all that’s an encumbrance, dead wood, and surfeit to requirement. I want the time and space within which to improvise and spontaneously respond to whatever comes out of the blue. The academic life is, presently, too sown-up, predictable, out of one’s control (to a large extent), and unfocussed, due to its complexity. Life is messy, but one can tidy-up some of it. I will ‘redeem the time’; that’s a determination.
On yellow Post-its, one for each of ‘teaching’, ‘admin’, and ‘research’, I listed my priorities and their deadlines to the end of the month. 11.00 am: Teatime, back stretch, and a brief potter with the studio amplifiers:
I added a ‘studio’ Post-it to my collection. There’s so much to be done there in terms of learning to use new, and developing a deeper understand of old, equipment. Item No. 1: ‘Play with amplification’. 12.00 pm: I opened up the Module Evaluation Questionnaire (MEQ) for my Abstraction module. Since this was the last time the module will run, an ‘action plan’ was unnecessary. Nevertheless, responses to particular comments were in order. Yes, I, too, would’ve preferred not to have had to deliver two 50-minute sessions on the same day, three hours apart. However, my teaching commitments on the other days of the week precluded an alternative. Furthermore, I had to abide by the sessions that the timetable office had given me. It’s galling to take the flack for those less than ideal circumstances over which you’ve had no control.
12.30 pm: Off to the seafront for a post-crash session with my osteopath. The weather was warmish and resplendent – a first foretaste of Spring:
1.05 pm: I sat at the end of a windowless corridor – which is just wider than a chair – and awaited my turn. This has always struck me as a place that’s ill at ease with itself. Perhaps the corridor has absorbed some of the pain that’s been experienced in the rooms beyond the doors:
The osteopath’s manipulations were somewhere between science and magic, to my mind. We talked about guitar playing and posture. (Well, you have to discuss something while sitting on someone’s hand for ten minutes.) My pelvic bone had been pushed out of line due to a differential in the left and right muscle tension, thereabouts, which had been exacerbated by the crash. The discussion gravitated towards the theme of age and muscle mass wastage. Apparently, the condition begins in the brain. If it’s convinced that you don’t use a particular set of muscles, they gradually diminished according to the principles of economy and conservation of energy. There’s a lesson here of broader consequence, I suspect: use a gift or lose a gift. By the end of the hour, I felt realigned and fit to return to running. Like the mind and our various facilities and aptitudes, the body thrives on a combination of discipline, exercise, nourishment, and tender loving care.
2.20 pm: Sandwich scoffed, I returned to my desk. (‘Sit properly, John!’) On with MEQing. (Groan!) (In the background (loud): Van Der Graaf Generator’s Pawn Hearts (1971).) I ached to be in the studio. (‘If I can complete this task by dinner time, then, I’ll reward myself with an evening among cables, sockets, and noisy little boxes’, I cajoled myself.)
6.45 pm: Practise session. 7.30 pm: Success! Into the studio. I love the feel of cold metal, rubber, dials, and switches under my hand: