Summa: diary (January 18-21, 2023)

January 18. 8.30 am: Diaristics. I didn’t maintain a diary in 1993. The volume for 1994 ends on March 9. At the close of the last entry, I wrote: ‘My foot is still swollen’. (I’d been suffering from an infection caused by a flea bite.) Thereafter, the pages are blank. By then, I was father to a four-month old son and in my second year as a full-time lecturer at the rebranded Visual Art Department, which had been ensconced in the Edward Davies Building (where the School of Art remains) a year earlier. I didn’t resume diarism until 1999. By then, I was thirty-nine years of age, father to a second son, and living in my present house; and had been Head of School and a professor for four years.

My memories of the four intervening (‘missing’) years are, instead, preserved in appointment diaries, photographs, CV entries, publications, artworks made, letters received, memorabilia (associated with travel, visits to art galleries, and anniversaries), and recollections provided by family members, friends, and former students. The Aural Diary wasn’t kept during this period either. In the absence of a day-by-day commentary, I recall my life back then in terms of only the broad sweep of events, encounters, and achievements.

9.30 am: Studiology. During the morning, I took up where I’d left off yesterday: a) fit-out the DJ desk in readiness for the ‘Creed’ [working title] project; b) examine the source recording for the “John!” [working title] project; and c) address initial considerations to the ‘Singing in the Air’ [working title] project.

January 19. 8.30 am: Diaristics. An odyssey to the Arael Mountain, Abertillery:

Abandoned cars rusted on the mountainside, crashed amid the pines trees. Had they been driven there or slid down the from the summit? Or were they apports from another place, that had materialised out of thin air? There were trees, some uprooted, others crudely broken into two, turned upside down, and strewn across the path — as though some malevolent entity had recently run amuck. The trees either side of the path had grown so tall that the route to the summit was now darkened significantly.

The top of the mountain is a gently undulating plane. The sky’s canopy is no longer — as it appears from the base of the valley — framed and delimited by the mountaintop. It has a heavenly aspect — cumulous, white, expansive. There’s a more or less constant aerial hum, as commercial flights cross the valley in the higher reaches of the sky, drawing soft white lines between the clouds.

The colliery slag heaps are now covered with a hardy yellowish grass over which the wind travels, making an unnatural sound — more like sucking than blowing. The crack of gunshot from an unseen source was carried on the wind towards me. There was little evidence of wildlife on the mountain. I encountered only a few sheep and small birds, which rose from the wimberry bushes on my approach.

The experience of being alone is unnerving. It’s not the loneliness but, rather, the desolation. This is a wilderness, of sorts. My feet staggered along the uneven sheep tracks — hopelessly unsuited to the terrain. I sensed something ‘other’ inhabited the landscape. Rusted iron rods poked through the soil and grass … like dinosaur bones.

Diary (July 3, 2001).

9.00 am: Studiology. I was on a roll, and keen to complete the power-supply, cabling, and loop-channel arrangements for the DJ desk by the close of the day. There were three governing regulations: 1. Simplify (Remove any sound-modifying unit from the system that’s extraneous to the function of the whole.); 2. Economise (Adapt the materials and equipment that I have in stock, rather buy additional items.); and 3. Scrutinise (Test for safety, security, and sound quality.) 4.00 pm: Complete:

DJ desk: schematic and realisation.

January 19. 8.30 am: My annual blood test to ensure that major organs are functioning within acceptable tolerances, and my potassium, cholesterol, and PSA levels are still ‘no cause for alarm’. 8.45 am: A trip to our local M&S for items, followed by a jaunt across the Promenade, ending at the hairdressers for a 10.00 am appointment. The snipperette and I discussed the joys and exhaustion of early parenting. My diaries from 1993 to 2001 remind me of just how much energy and commitment fatherhood demanded after a full-day’s work and at weekend. The children have turned out remarkably well, in spite of me.

11.00 am: I returned to the studio to stocktake individual effects pedals that may eventually find a place in the desk’s looping circuits. Trial and attentiveness are the watch words. Having completed the desk’s network of devices, I set-up the recording-end of the output. In the afternoon, I rummaged through my vast collection of cables in order to establish whether any could be adapted to fill the missing links between devices. There were! By the close of the session, I’d saved myself nearly £100.

January 21. 8.45 am: Frosting, Towning. Buying. 9.30 am: Yesterday evening I failed to fix a domestic router/node mesh wi-fi malfunction. For an hour and a half I text-chatted with a technical assistant representing the node system, while fiddling with a set-up app on my phone. To no avail. The router is manufactured by a different firm. So, its rather like dealing with the railway networks: there’s one company with responsibility for the rolling stock and another, for the rails. And they don’t confer. And neither side takes responsibility for the problem. And each side blames the other. And the customer is piggy-in-the-middle.

The problem is, I don’t know what the problem is. Why did the node system fail in the first place? Is the router the root cause, instead? Procedure: 1. Reset everything, delete the existing home-network account and set-up app and begin from scratch, establish a new account and download the most recent version of the set-up app. (Place manuals and online tutorials at the ready.) My approach to resolving sound equipment malfunctions has given me good grounding in developing strategic approaches to problem solving. (Transferable skills in action.) 1.00 pm: Apparent success. The set-up will now need to be tested.

5.00 pm: On>Off. I enjoyed a celebratory Chinese meal in anticipation of tomorrow’s New Year.

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