The last breakfast. I’ll miss this treat. But a treat ceases to be a one when it becomes a way of life. Suitcase packed, I headed for the Cathedral in order to find a space in which to order myself, delight in the artworks, and hear the peel of bells. The latter can move me close to the boundary of ecstasy. I’m in the habit of positioning myself, such that I can hear the sound rebound off an adjacent wall a fraction of a section after the bells have chimed. Stereophonic. This weekend, while full-on academically, has, nonetheless, proved to be an oasis of peace and inner prosperity. Gratitude. I’ll be feeding on it for many weeks to come.
I took the 10.32 am train for London Victoria. This was the start of a journey that would take over eight hours to complete.
The train was overcrowded even before it arrived at Gatwick Airport, where the teaming hordes of holiday returnees packed the doors like Japanese commuters. We poured out onto the platform at Victoria like an exodus of refugees. From there to Euston, where I picked up lunch at M&S. ‘Oh! Wine gums’. (John, John, John; discipline, discipline, discipline!’) I paid no heed. (‘As reckless as ever, John!’)
Station to station. There are long waits for connections on a Sunday. Birmingham International station is a dispiriting place. There’s something about red placed against grey in public spaces (think Post Office and TK Maxx) that deflates me. Lazy and complacent design.
On the Journey to Shrewsbury, I completed my ‘My Instagram’ blog. On arrival, there’ll be a bus to take me to Welshpool. From there, its plain ‘sailing’ by train all the way to Aberystwyth. En route:
Scholarship, like church, is about working in, and on behalf of, and to the betterment of, a community. As in the body of Christ, we can’t all be an eye (or an ear, for that matter). We’re joined one to another; we need one another; and we’ll progress in our endeavour only by recognising the body, acknowledging our mutual dependency, and learning to work together, supportively. That’s what an academic symposium can facilitate: a profound sense of our corporateness, connectivity, and commission. This is what happened over the past few days.