The liturgy of the mornings: I rise early, and wait for my skin to register the cold air before placing my feet on the bedroom carpet). Then, down the corridor, passed the shapely lady of the lamp (She’s clearly French; an ‘Evette’, maybe), to the bathroom. There, ablutions to the sound of Radio 4’s news programs. (I can’t bear to hear agitated confrontations at this time in the morning.) I peer behind the blind at the still dark and indeterminate spaces between the houses beyond my garden. After, I descend to the kitchen, put away dishes and utensils from the drying racks, empty the dishwasher, and re-engage the radio. To follow, the kettle is filled and clicked on. It gurgles dryly; sounds like an old man’s death-throws. A gluten-free bowl of something is poured. These days, I heat the skimmed milk in the microwave. Thanksgiving. (I’ll eat more now than many folk in the Yemen will in many days.) I’m on my own; there’s no conversation; I stare at no fixed point in the room, listening to arguments, dissent, and slippery evasions.
‘A communion’: I lay it on the line: all those things that weren’t done and ought not to have been done. (Real Anglican stuff.) I seek help for, and a blessing upon, the day: for every conversation and gesture of courtesy; for every message and letter; and for every piece of advice given and received. ‘God be in my head, and in my understanding’. And ‘God be in my ears, and in my listening’. (Why wasn’t that included in the original prayer?) Finally, I pocket my keys, wallet, and memory stick, pick up my satchel, and head for school.
On the way I, more often than not, pass a young woman walking in the opposite direction. She has a mobile phone grafted to her hand, and texts while crossing roads, oblivious to on-coming traffic. I wince, I can’t look. I saw a man over the road, whom I thought was another man: bearded like a guitarist from ZZ-Top. (But who isn’t these days?)
I have my lecture on ‘The Painter Dances: Abstraction and Jazz’. It looks at the roots of the music from the sub-Saharan slave trade to Ornette Coleman, and of abstraction from Picasso’s Demoiselles d’ Avignon to Pollock’s Lavender Mist. I love to shock the students with free jazz. ‘If you could hear Abstract Expressionism, it’d sound like THIS!’. (A&E was not called on this occasion.) I talked with one of my tutees about how to interpret the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK, visually. I bought their Pretty Vacant single when I was in art school. But the student was hearing this music over forty years after it was released. That’s a long time. (I heard The Velvet Underground only fifteen years after they were active.) When I listen to the Sex Pistols, I also recall when and where I bought the record, and first played it. My autobiography is immeshed in the sound. Therefore, my experience of the record is, in part, nostalgic; the student’s, entirely historic.