March 2, 2020

Shall not we your sorrow share
And from worldly joys abstain,
Fasting with unceasing prayer,
Strong with you to suffer pain?

(George Hunt Smyttan, ‘Forty Days and Forty Nights’ (1856))

Saturday, February 29. Visiting Day No. 2. Ms Wildig was, as ever, prepared and poised by 9.00 am, when I entered the building. She is Camp Leader; Queen Bee. The rest of us are drones. Another impressive ‘batch’ of applicants. And the weather had put-off no one from coming. So few school students have the opportunity to draw from life, these days. (A-level curriculum can be very restrictive.) So I send them out, following the interview, with an encouragement to keep a daily visual diary. (Why shouldn’t artists draw, like musicians practice, every day?) I also suggest that they visit a local art museum in order to spend an afternoon with one artwork, and, then, write about what they’d observed and how they’ve understand both the image and the nature of their perception.

Sunday, March 1 (St David’s Day).

Monday, March 2. 6.45 am: Preparation for my three-day excursion to Manchester in order to represent the School at the UCAS Fayre. 7.15 am: Admin – an endeavour to dispatch the weekend’s incoming mail and ensure that my students are catered for while I’m away. 8.30 am: Onto the streets to begin a morning of teaching tidy-up:

9.00 am: With one of my tutees, I reflected upon the nature of the computer gamer’s experience. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) struck me as a progenitor. He has a goal, meets challenges along the way, falls foul of traps, gets lost, and seeks information and guidance with which to proceed (at Interpreter’s House). Game over! On the walls, the vestiges of a bygone era in the Old College’s history and staffing. One day I, too, will be redacted:

10.00 am: Back at the mothership, I caught up on emails and registers while awaiting for appointments to materialise. 12.10 pm: Off to the station to begin my adventure. iPad tethered to iPhone, I continued with my ‘noisy’ paper. Along the way, the waters had receded, for the most part. Calm seas were before me. The radio telescope at Jodrell Bank was resplendent in the sunshine. Arrived at Manchester after 4.15 pm:

Onto my hotel, which was located close to the conference centre:

I started out on the city while it was light. It’s a lovely city. My sons came to to university here. I took dinner at a Watering hole close by. The last time we ate here was as a family, years ago.

6.00 pm: Back at basecamp, I prepared for an evening’s work on the composition. I could hear the toot of trams in the distance.

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