August 18, 2020

WFH: DAY 115. 8.00 am: A communion:

The ‘A’-level debacle has evolved into the Clearing debacle, as universities now seek to perform the miracle of pouring a quart into a pint pot. Government is supposed to solve problems, not create them. Michelle Obama’s critique, yesterday, of the Trump administration could equally be applied to our own leaders’ performance. The want of an empathic imagination and competence is key to both. 8.30 am: Meanwhile, I continued to work away in my small corner of the manure pile. The inbox. It was like yesterday, again: postgraduate applications, confirmations, affirmations, and a few things that I was wary of prodding. (In the background: BBC Radio 3’s Choral Evensong, from St Martin-in-the-Field, London.)

Responsibility for admissions, at any level in a university, is a weighty matter. In the end, I and the applicant are looking for a decision that’s best for them presently. Accepting someone onto a course of study that they’ll find too demanding is not an option. (‘I’d rather put you off than lead you on!’, I say.) Rejection is rarely a life-changing event, in any case. Applicants do get over it. And those who’re convinced of their cause and determined will persevere, better themselves, and reapply. Acceptance, however, for those who’re genuinely capable of success, can be the gateway to an utterly transformative experience.

11.00 am: Hot chocolate and a homemade bicky:

I made reply to responses to the missives that I’d sent in the early part of the morning. In the pre-email days, you could expect a few day’s grace between sending and receiving. And one tended to consider a response far longer before posting. Twitteresque knee-jerk reactions were rare. 11.30 am: Letters of support, comfort, report, and rapport were posted. The round of consultation, referral, and decision-making appears endless at the moment. 12.45 pm: I called time on the day’s admin.

1.30 pm: Following lunch, I cleared the studio of distracting clutter and prepared for recording. I read the texts of three accounts of aerial ‘visions’: one seen over Carmarthen; another over Cilciffith, Pembrokeshire; and other over Lincolns-Inn Fields, London:

The objective of ‘Seen in the Air’ [working title] is to evoke the aerial battle described in the accounts. The visions were skyward projections of land-based conflict. In a curious way, they’re also prophetic mirages that anticipate the dog-fights between enemy aircraft in the First and Second World Wars. Thus, I read/heard the narratives through the filter of my knowledge of subsequent history. And this was likely to influence my sonic rendering of the phenomena. The only other times that I’ve dealt with the theme of war were in the compositions B-Lit-Z (2013) and The Name Day of St Anne (2016).

4.30 pm: I miss the silent streets of lockdown, the long-grass at the cemetery, and the empty town. The illusion that things can now revert to normal (more or less) appears to be commonly believed by many whom I encounter on my walks.

7.30 pm: It would be a mixed menu during the evening. I had to apprise myself of the protocol (in the light of the Government U-turn yesterday) for my stint on the university’s Clearing ‘call-centre’ tomorrow morning; prepare for a staff interview panel in the afternoon; and look through documents of a futurological nature. In the background, I played the processed samples of this afternoon’s readings.

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