April 22, 2020

‘I’m not here right now’ (Webclient notification).

WFH: DAY 23. 8.00 am: A communion. I’ve a short list of friends and students on whom I check periodically. I don’t presume that those whom I consider well-able to deal with this crisis always are, necessarily. We each of us, I imagine, pitch lower than our best, some days. Moreover, my incarceration is not their incarceration. (‘I’m OK. You’re OK’, has never been one of my maxims.) They may not be able to cope with the challenges that I face-down in isolation, and vise versa. ‘Each to their own’, as we say. ‘Better the devil you know’, as we say. 9.00 am: On with writing. The introduction is about death and loss. These themes are best dealt with in times of peace and prosperity, to my mind. But that luxury isn’t gifted to me, presently.

House (detail) #1:

With ‘glad tidings’ from friends and family comes a measure of relief that they’re all, still, this day, in the world and enduring determinately. 12.00 pm: I received a telephone call from my second-cousin, who lives in South Wales. Her mother died when she was born. She lost her son in a car accident when he was eighteen years of age. I’ve always admired her resilience. There’s never a conversation wherein his name is not mentioned. Thus, he remains ‘present’ within our family.

House (detail) #2:

1.45 pm: I revised some of the morning’s writing and prepared my ‘webclient presence’ in readiness for a two-hour stint at the online application query desk (my desk), from 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm. The tone of the writing had been established, but not the structure or the scope. The latter two dimensions are always reciprocal. 3.40 pm: I joined the ‘team’. Cautious. Ever cautious, on these occasions:

Thirty-two staff and I were investing in the prospect of the ‘new-normal’, when students would once again sit in lecture theatres and seminar rooms, stand before easels, etc., and confidently envision a future for themselves.

7.30 pm: After dinner, I took my deferred stroll, this time to the municipal cemetery in order to walk among the dead. There, the gravestones’ ‘rest’ seemed to permeate the air. Wood pigeons settled and froze upon crosses, like alabaster doves. Half-hidden in the untended grass, I alighted upon the grave of a woman from Bardi, Italy, born during the first year of World War I. She lay far from home, now.

Angel of peace, thou hast wandered too long;
Spread thy white wings to the sunshine of love!

(Oliver Wendell Holmes, ‘Angel of Peace’ )
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