November 25, 2020

8.00 am: Preparations for the day ahead. There’d be a further online Open-Day at 9.15 am, which would take up most of the morning. In essence, staff serve a role equivalent to those anonymous folk who respond to queries about products on internet sales sites: ‘How may I help you today, sir/madam?’ There’s a good deal of waiting around. (Not unlike angling.) I don’t knit, so I placed my developing mini-pedalboard at my elbow to tease and prod during the ‘down-time’. (You can’t afford to get embroiled in anything involving heady head work.) Under the ‘hood’ (buffer and pedal power supply):

10.00 am: Kick off!. Professor Meyrick and I were the morning’s double act:

The first half hour was feverish. Thereafter, inquiries became a steady trickle. I made preparations for the remainder of the morning’s work and the afternoon’s appointments. A blue sky had established itself. It’s been strange not receiving potential applicants at the School for either Open Days or Visiting Days. Getting them over the threshold of the Edward Davies Building has always been a great boon to our promotional strategy. There’s clearly a ‘magic’ about the School, and a winningness about our student ambassadors and staff, that has been irresistible for many of our visitors. Like all UK universities, we need home students. They’re our mainstay. In the light of Covid-19 and Brexit, applications from overseas students from Europe and elsewhere are likely to plummet during this coming year.

12.00 pm: Job done! Next: a pastoral tutorial. 12.30 pm: Admin catch-up in the lead-up to lunch. 2.00 pm: The first of a pair of PhD fine art tutorials. Two extraordinarily contrasting tutees and bodies of work. Working at this level has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my career as an educator.

4.30 pm: The circuit beckoned.

7.30 pm: The bottomless pit that is postgraduate admin beckoned, too. I’m reading a collection of true ghost stories at bedtime. (Edmund Jones for today, as it were.) I’m not sure whether I’ve ever experienced a supernatural encounter. When I was a very young boy, I saw from my bed the inexplicable shadow of a hand, where there ought to have been none (Diary, January 30, 2017). Close to a year after my father died, during this season, while I was taking an evening walk around the neighbourhood streets, I saw, in semi-profile, at a distance of no more than 4 metres, a middle-aged man standing motionless at the centre of the road, looking at the house where my wife and I once had a ground-floor flat. He was the same height and build as Dad, stood with his hands in his jacket pocket, as he had done, wore the same style of clothes, and shared his facial features to a tee. I was likewise transfixed, but by a mild panic in my case … being unable to either look away or approach him. The man remained absolutely still, clearly unaware that he was being stared at. Eventually, I forced my eyes to the ground and walked on passed, not daring to turn around.

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