February 22, 2021

Unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid (The Book of Common Prayer).

WFH: DAY 36/LENT 5. 7.00 am: Proof of presence:

7.30: A communion. 7.45 am: The week ahead promised to make considerable demands on both my time and energy. There’re some possibilities I daren’t entertain; some files, I’d rather not open; and some emails, I hope never to receive. The past vaunts itself, and threatens from a distance to rattle the our cage and stir-up old waters again. ‘Retaliate: Maintain poise!; Affirm the now!; Look forward!, John’. 8.30 am: I attended to the remainder of the weekend’s incoming mail. 8.45 am: The morning and afternoon were set aside for the second reading of PhD thesis (which I’m examining), and the preparation of an initial report thereon. This, and the institution’s internal examiner’s report on the same, will inform next week’s viva voce discussions.

11.30 am:

12.30 pm: I completed the second read-through, having taken notes for the initial report and to inform a series of questions to ask the candidate at the viva voce. I’ll conduct a third reading prior to it. Having dug-in intensively throughout the morning, I was, as a result, ahead of my timetable for the day. The afternoon would now be dedicated to writing the report and other matters.

1.30 pm: On with the former. 3.30 pm: The report was dispatched … one day before the deadline. Thereafter, I took up the cause of my BA Dissertation student, whom I’ll be talking with tomorrow morning. Around lunchtime, I developed a wistful longing to visit Newport, Gwent. It’s not a particularly pleasant town these days, but my associations with it are still strong. I envisioned myself in a quiet cafĂ©, enjoying a hot chocolate and oatmeal cake, and looking onto the street:

I’ve not been able to concentrate with any kind of music on in the background to my work, today. Even a quiet immobile drone was too obtrusive. I was content with the sounds emanating from the neighbourhood: cars passing, shouts and occasional laughter, an electrical saw cutting through stone, and distant knocking. I read through a PhD chapter submission in readiness for Wednesday’s tutorials.

4.30 pm: To the cemetery, to wander. I took a micro-cassette recorder, having been inspired by Captain Beefheart’s use of the same on Trout Mask Replica (1969) (which I’d played while hoovering yesterday.) For some time, I’ve wanted to audiolize inscriptions on the graves that I’d otherwise hear only in my head as I read them. ‘Those are people who died’ (to quote from Jim Carroll’s song):

7.30 pm: I pushed on with my review of postgraduate and undergraduate text submissions.

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