August 27, 2020

WFH: DAY 122: 7.45 am:

8.30 pm: A communion. My paternal grandfather was a Communist, for a while. But, then again, so were many other coalminers in the South Wales’ valleys. My maternal grandfather was a hard-core socialist (as well as a chapel Deacon); a copy of the Daily Worker was delivered to his house weekly. While I’ve never been a card-carrying member of the Labour party, the values of: ‘old’ Labour (especially); communalism (in contrast to rank individualism); and social responsibility, were part of the atmosphere that I breathed during my upbringing. I’m enormously grateful for it. The badges were purchased in Prague. They’re given in recognition of hard work:

9.30 am: The first of the morning’s three PhD fine art tutorials. ‘Aspects of the artwork may forever remain a mystery to the artist.’ ‘There can be a gulf between the original intention and the final outcome of a work. That, in itself, isn’t a problem. It’s just a reality.’ ‘I miss the physicality of the students’ artwork. I want to “touch” it with my hands, rather than with my eyes.’ ‘Test everything at the bar of relevance: For example, when writing-up your autobiography, include only those aspects which either illuminate, explain, or justify the work you’ve made.’ ‘Remember, a personal and specific narrative is as important a mode of historical disclosure as any broad-brushed scholarly appraisal.’ 10.45 am — 1.00 pm: Tutorials two and three:

2.00 pm: A double-marking session with Dr Forster, in order to assess the undergraduate and postgraduate re-submissions, under the university’s Covid-19 resit protocol:

3.30 pm: Wrangling and discussion completed, I wrote up the feedback for my students. (In the background: William Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices.)

4.30 pm: Stretch. The usual circuit: cemetery, avenue, town, and home. Social distancing seemed to be a thing of the past. Behaving normally doesn’t foster normality. Indeed, the very reverse is true. A fact to which the reckless behaviour of some young people in England has borne witness during this past month. I kept to the quieter backstreets and the middle of the road. (And this is the only occasion when I consider myself ‘middle of the road’.)

5.15 pm: My prevaricated admin emails beckoned to my conscience.

8.15 pm: The Thursday evening desk tidy done, I shifted my focus to tomorrow’s studio work. I prefer to enter the studio knowing what there is to be done. (In the background : Giovanni Palestrina’s Motets for Five Voices.) As I listened, my thoughts were drawn to those loved ones and friends who’ve been, and are, most congruent with my values, thinking, and sense of purpose. I’ve been nourished and encouraged by their wisdom, challenged by their authenticity and integrity, and spurred on by their good example. These relationships have endured; the bond of unity remains strong.

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