May 25, 2021

My mind inclined to thoughts about endings: an era drawing to a close, transitions, abrupt terminations, distancing, adjustments, alternatives, and new beginnings (Diary, March 26, 2018).

Monday, May 24. 7.30 am: A communion. 8.00 am: I returned to my, what now feels like, eternal review of the first Diary‘s posts. At 9.00 am on a Monday, the week stretches before me like the incline of a very tall mountain. I would have to scale the face one basecamp at a time. My first steps today were towards minor admin tasks (to lubricate the day’s beginning), redirections to students submitting their Exhibition (portfolios following an extension), and my weekly review of Postgraduate Admissions. Presently, many things must go forward simultaneously and on a number of fronts. There’ve been a number of good overseas applications to the MA which we’ve not been able to accept because their English language skills are deemed ‘Unsatisfactory’. Without a fairly sophisticated command of the language, both orally and in writing, they don’t have a hope of succeeding at the theory element of the scheme.

10.30 am: Assessment admin, next. The Turnitin/Blackboard module marks and feedback needed to be entered for all those MA and BA modules that I co-ordinate. It’s always a tricky operation. Deadlines for marks beckoned. In between bouts, I reviewed posts. Following lunch, I maintained my steer. There was no likely break in the pattern of intermittent downpours. 4.15 pm: But I took my chance. It was a neither warm nor cold: a temperate equipoise. As I took to the streets, I remembered only what had been the good about those days back then: how they’d made my blood course more strongly, thawed my heart, and put a wind in my sails. How often sadness and gratitude walk hand-in-hand.

6.15 pm: Practise session. 7.15 pm: I pushed on with the posts and assessment admin. I’m reading the posts for format and consistency, rather than for sense. Over the Summer period, I’ll read the dairies in order to learn from them. My past, I anticipate, has much to teach me about the future.

Tuesday, May 25. 8.00 am: A communion:

8.30 am: I reviewed a further two pages of posts before turning-over the ‘open’ sign on the door. 9.00 am: I undertook a review of MA applications (in response to yesterday’s trawl), disposed file ‘shares’, planned for the finalisation of the undergraduate and postgraduate exhibition modules, and looked tentatively at my second-marking responsibilities. 10.20 pm: Off to my GP surgery to receive Covid-19 vaccination, part 2. I was In/Out … in no time at all. My thanks to all concerned:

10.45 am: ‘Tea, please!’ Back to it. ‘It’ being the myriad small things that converge to make a large and significant thing. (In the background: The Who, Live at Leeds (1970).) I entered into my appointments diary as many dates as were known regarding assessment deadlines. I need to know what I’m walking into, and when. There were only ten more pages of posts to hack through before I reached the close of the first diary. There were still anomalies. But these would be fixed as I re-read the text for sense.

2.00 pm: A final undergraduate Exhibition confirmation meeting with Dr Forster. (And our final consultation together, too.) This was weighty business:

3.00 pm: On with everything at once, or so it seemed. This experience is usual at this time of the year, whether one is in- or out-of-office. It builds to a meteor shower of uncoordinated demands made by agencies outside of the School. Why anyone should think that the assessment period has academics twiddling their thumbs for want of something to do, beggars belief. Over the years, I’ve constructed my own system of ‘gating’ requests. Requests can form a queue at the gates, but only I can let them in — one at a time, ideally. 4.15 pm: I was outward-bound:

7.30 pm: Push. Push. Push. Pushing forward of the last thing while reaching towards the next.

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