January 24, 2020

Show me the path of life (Psalm 16.12).

8.00 am: A communion. I’m working my way through the order of ‘Morning Prayer’, from the Book of Common Prayer, as a means of structuring my devotions.

Following yesterday evening’s self-examination, several questions have presented themselves. Most immediately: If I were at the close of my life (and who can say, one way or another), what would I regret not having done? The flip-side – What would I regret having done? – can only be met with repentance (where necessary), reparation (where possible), and a rueful smile (where appropriate). Rarely can the past be undone. However, one may determine to live in the present and future in such a way as to mitigate the ongoing fallout of earlier follies, losses, squandered opportunities, and misdeeds. My working assumption is that I still have (deo juvante) the time, energy, and the faculties to fulfil some of those things that remain outstanding. So, I determined to set myself new goals for the years that remain. The nature of, and the location and timetable for, such will become clearer in the next eighteen months. However, ‘This is Tomorrow’, as that seminal Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, exhibition proclaimed in 1956. In other words, the future begins now.

I returned to my grant application at full throttle. And, just as I did, further helpful information arrived in my inbox. (In the background: Keith Jarrett’s Hymns/Spheres (1976).) I read a Tweet on my feed that suggested that some Higher Education institutions expected academics to be Tweet-active and secure 10K followers in order to aid the mission of student recruitment. To get anywhere near achieving that target, a staff member would need to be public-facing and posting incessantly for most of the working day. Can you imagine how stressful and dispiriting that would be to an academic who didn’t either like social media in general or Twitter in particular, or have anything to say for that matter. I wondered how many Facebook ‘friends’ they’re expected to accrue for the same purpose. And outsiders will no doubt accuse us of spending too much time on generating propaganda aimed at securing future students and not enough on the ones we have. You can’t win.

A brief scurry into the studio to put together the PA system’s mixing and EQ console in readiness for the ‘work-out’ over the weekend:

1.45 pm: Back in the study … pushing on. Interruptions – legitimate and otherwise – are par for the course at this time of year. Rarely is it possible to work focally for more than half-an-hour at a time. I’ve developed, over the years, a switching mechanism that allows me to re-engage a task immediately following a disturbance. The most recent was a spam email sent to all members of the Faculty from someone important therein. I fell for it. (If, indeed, it was really me.)

3.30 pm: Off to town to undertake domestics, shop, and have a haircut. The latter proved fruitless; the stylist was way overtime with her other clients. I was apologetically relocated to a slot tomorrow morning.

Having battled with the yellow ‘Reduced’ label barcode on the supermarket’s self-service scanner, I returned laden with food to continue where I left off (and check whether this evening’s dinner had defrosted). I’ve only today and tomorrow to complete this funding application. ‘Better make haste, then!’, the voice barked sternly.

5.15 pm: ‘Remove outer cover, tear-off plastic sheet, and place the container in a baking tray’. I thought this was supposed to be a ready-meal, not an exercise in international cuisine. [Groans!]:

7.00 am: On it (again). The evening was occupied, and I was on a roll (at last). But the emails kept coming.

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