Saturday evening I visited our local Arts Centre cinema to see Stan & Ollie. The actors embodied their subjects in a remarkable way. There was a poetry, tenderness, and delicacy in the work of Laurel and Hardy. Their slapstick has always seemed to me to be about something more than it appeared. They were our representatives: hapless and bungling humanity, underpinned by reconciliation and forgiveness. I cannot help but think that Beckett’s characters of Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot weren’t inspired by the comic duo.
On Sunday, I talked over some of the issues with which I’ve been doing battle in my non-working life. The conversation was helpful, and one of a number of lunchtime chin-wags that will need to be had with others in the weeks ahead. After lunch, we walked the promenade from start to finish, from North to South Beach. And I looked out towards the horizon and down at the shale and the incoming tide, and remembered and smiled.
Monday, January 21.
9.00 am: On with another day of second-year painting feedback tutorials:
‘You have to be curious about what you’re curious about’
’What does painting achieve that no other medium can?’
’Keep your radar wide and your ambitions high’
[Of serial work]: ‘If you paint a subject enough times, it’ll disappear; the endeavour will then become about the act of perception and painting, principally’
’Memory is the camera of feeling’
‘You discovered something that you didn’t expect’
’In the second year of study, development is rarely linear. Rather, it’s like a pool of liquid that’s constantly expanding’
’Some students astonish; they’re invariably those who demand far more of themselves than do their tutors’
‘Get up, get out, and get on!’
‘You don’t see it? Really?’
’No amount of external pressure and encouragement will make you a more motivated student. The problem begins and ends with yourself’
‘You’ll do best at that in which your heart is invested’
S: ‘I accidentally trod on my tube of paint; that’s why it looks like that’
T: ‘Happy to be mediocre, then?’
Lunch was taken on the trot:
‘Oouff! Oouff!’ I embarrassed myself, again, by chasing a student’s guide dog under the table while making doggy noises. 4.00 pm: The ‘knackered-factor’ had kicked in. One of my colleagues came to the rescue, and gave me a square of 74% (a curious percentage) Tesco-brand, cheap-dark chocolate. It was special in its own way; and I was grateful for any crumb of comfort at that time of the day:
4.50 pm: Our last assessment was at Old College. 5.30 pm: An end of things … until tomorrow.
7.30 pm: An evening of catching up with emails and other correspondence that had landed during the day, student reference requests, and postgraduate admin. Invariably, the press of assessments means that other tasks, too – such as teaching preparation for the week ahead and the drive to push research projects further towards resolution – fall behind. I shall redouble my efforts in these respects over the next few days.