October 22, 2019

7.30 am: The salmon-pink underbelly:

8.30 am: A communion. 9.00 am: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are dedicated to MA and PhD teaching and admin. VPN frustrations continue. I’d successfully installed the new software, but the sign-in window will not recognise the password that my phone app generates for this purpose. The greater a system’s complication, the greater the possibility of error.

10.00 am: Reposition. Off to School and to work within the firewall. Registers updated, I headed for an 11.00 am third-year painting tutorial at the Old College. The place crumblest:

Time was of the essence today; no lingering. Email check before departure:

12.00 pm: Back at the mothership, feeling unusually hungry for this time of the morning. I resisted a snack. Postgraduate applications pending beckoned. The new round of consideration has now begun. Ms Wildig and I have been exploring cunning ways in which to streamline this operation. She has also constructed a PhD student database, which is a wonder to behold. The only databases I trust, these days, are the ones we generate at the School. They’re simple and easy to manage. Again: ‘The greater a system’s complication, the greater the possibility of error.’

2.00 pm: After a working lunch, I undertook an afternoon of first-year MA teaching. At times the students are on, as it were, the psychiatrist’s couch. For the study of art is, in the end, the study of life (and our own, in particular). At other times, the discussion was entirely pragmatic. How to: reduce the number of parent colours while enlarging the range of offspring colours; transform perceived colours into a palette that is derived from but not identical to them; and arrange bras as an attractive still life:

4.30 pm: Further admin until the close of the afternoon.

7.45 pm: Parliamentary votes are nerve racking. It’s now like a weekly, collective anticipation of a bad prognosis. After TV Ordeal, I wrote a softly-barbed response to a letter from our Human Resources department. Staff members with a disability were asked whether they wished to declare their circumstances in relation to the up-and-coming Research Assessment Exercise. I did so, not because I wanted to make a case of special pleading and be excused from submitting the full number of research outputs required. (I’ve met my quota, and beyond.) Rather, it’s a matter of principle and awareness. In any case, I was informed that there’d be no sanctioned reduction of outputs in my case. I wrote:

Thank you for sending me the letter. The outcome of my notification of disability is not surprising. For the record: that staff members with chronic illnesses, such as ME, don’t interrupt their period of research and continue to produce outputs is a measure of their commitment to their department, rather than an indication of the underlying condition’s severity and challenge.

ME kills; it can ruin lives, cause severe depression and social isolation, and be made worse by over work and unsupportive employers. (Although, I should add, emphatically, that the School of Art has been exemplary in its consideration of my predicament.)

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