WFH: DAY 3. 8.15 am: A communion. 8.45 am: Profound busyness lands on my shoreline like a seventh wave: predictably and regularly in both its pattern and severity. One arrived this morning. ‘Onward!’ 9.00 am: There was a bucket of emails to slop out before I could turn to the weighty matters of the day. I keep in mind the reality that I’m not, like doctors and nurses in the NHS, on my last legs, having to make life and death decisions, coping with suffering, the dying, and the grief of others on a daily basis, and working at the borderline of despair. As one doctor reflected, strategically: ‘We face our jobs one hour and one day at a time’. There’s great wisdom in that. As another physician once taught: ‘Sufficient unto the day is there evil thereof’. In other words, we’ve enough on our plate for one day, thank you very much. Often, it’s the anticipation of what may or my not be down the line — tomorrow or next week or next month — rather than those demands that are before us, which inspire the greater anxiety. And many of our anticipated trials prove, in the end, to be phantoms.
10.00 am: Queries addressed, solutions applied, students buoyed up, and assessment arrangements confirmed, I read over material in preparation for the School of Art Management Committee at 11.00 am. At the very least, these occasions remind each of us that we aren’t alone in this battle against Covid-19’s profound disruption to our provision. It was good to see the staff’s faces again. So many questions remain in the air. This because the broader context of uncertainty (created by national and UK government edicts), flip-flopping on policy, and revisions of decisions does not permit any determination to be set in stone, presently. ‘We must learn to adapt as staff and teach students how to do the same’, one of us said, sagely. We all agreed. There’re opportunities for professional development … for us all. When, in the future, the history of this period in the School’s life is written, our successors will be amazed. They’ll not believe it.
What are the immediate priorities? What can be either postponed or held in abeyance? What’s tolerable, and what’s beyond the pale? What should I expect of myself, and what should I resist? What can I cope with, and what will be the straw that breaks this camel’s back? A crisis brings these questions into clearer focus. It was a meeting that I’ll not forget.
2.00 pm: A long meeting (three hours), followed by a late lunch. 2.30 pm: Then it was back into the depths of REF PowerPoint building, while fielding email footnotes to the morning’s meeting. All my responsibilities are now in an uneasy tension, with everything vying for priority. And I’m sure that many others in the department are in the same position. For once ‘take back control’ seems like a sensible course of action. If we don’t as individuals, no one will do so on our behalf.
7.15 pm: I pressed on, slide-by-slide, in an endeavour to narrate a step-by-step account of how the research was undertaken.