So important to keep diaries of these dark days not only to reduce our anxieties and settle our nerves but also for the benefit of future historians. Without diarists we wouldn’t know much about the personal side of our history (Pedr ap Llwyd, Twitter, March 18, 2020)
WFH: DAY 2. (In the background: Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto Op.14 (1939).) 8.30 am: A communion. 9.00 am: I would’ve been conducting my first third-year painting tutorial of the day. Instead, I was rationalising my Post-its for today’s and the coming week’s tasks, across the board of my activities. From now on, the difference between term time and vacation time will become increasingly blurred. Like a prisoner in solitary confinement, I needed ways of inscribing on the cell-wall a line for each day of this crisis: marking time.
The thought struck me: ‘Will I ever see my third-year students again?’ The real-world, face-to-face academic year is now over, for all intents and purposes. Teaching and assessment continue on-line only. No one knows whether there’ll be a Graduation Ceremony, for we might remain in this crisis for many months to come. All staff, however, are committed to redeeming what we can from this ‘train crash’. 10.30 am: Desktop cleared of residual documentation from yesterday’s exchanges and updates, I looked to the now.
12.00 pm: I conducted the first on-line tutorial with one of my third-year painting tutorials. It was text-based, but serviceable. By this time next week, I hope to be running video-chats. Presently, however, the students’ priority is abandoning ship. I’ve five Microsoft Teams groups supporting my on-line provision to oversee. They must be tightly disciplined. Crisis doesn’t mean chaos.
Many of my activities were undertaken in parallel. I scanned the computer screens for signals of presence, deliveries, prompts, and alerts. It was all rather manic. However, I suspect that this period is the storm before the calm. By the close of the month, the new routine will be well-oiled and familiar to both staff and students. We can do this, together!
1.30 pm: After lunch, I visited the School to pick up a delivery. A spirit pervaded the building that I associate with grieving. As a community, we’ve been tutored by sadness too many times during this last year already.
2.00 pm: The priority for the afternoon was dispatching my contribution to the PhD award process. My afternoon distraction, was installing a pair of ‘reducers’, which would facilitate mounting a pair of monitor speakers on camera tripods for the purpose of public presentations within modest-size spaces, It’s only a small thing, but serves the purpose precisely. There’s a beauty in that:
4.45 pm: I made a start on re-engaging my undergraduate and postgraduate tutorials next week. Quite how many students will be happy video-chatting remains to be seen.
6.45 pm: Practise session. I sense that I’d understood something about the expressive potential of, and relationship between, the plectrum, the strings, and the fingers. Once known, it seemed so fundamental. But don’t all realisations?:
7.30 pm: I began sending out emails to my tutees in a bid to arrange tutorials for what would have been the last week of term before the Easter vacation. My policy is to keep to the days and times that have been established for consultations – to maintain the routine and, thus, a sense of normality. To the contrary: the Church in Wales, following the Church of England, have cancelled all services. Morning Prayer would have to be a DIY affair for the foreseeable future.