September 19, 2020

WFH: DAY 141. This is my last day of working from home. As of Monday, I’ll be into a pattern of on-site and online teaching and off-site research (if there’s time). Monday will also represent the first day of my final year as a full-time academic at the School of Art. Thus, the last will be the most challenging; which, all else considered, is a good way conclude this chapter of my professional life.

8.30 am: Inbox duties. We are each of us planning as far ahead as its possible to see. Which is all one can do. There’ll be ‘unconsiderdable’ (unknowable, until known) problems, setbacks (inevitably, because we cannot take responsibility for what we’ve no control over in the wider world), and discouragements (in spite of all our efforts). There’ll also be some astonishing moments and glorious surprises — that would not have occurred under normal circumstances. And so, like other members of staff, I approach the coming academic year with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation. 9.00 am: There were still meetings to arrange, software applications to learn, and files and folders to be rationalised. (In the background: John McLaughlin’s Is That So (2020).) And very much in the foreground: the Saturday mid-morning treat:

The worst prognostications suggest that universities will suffer a considerable student drop-out rate this year. Personally, I sense that so long as students are cared for, kept safe and in the loop, and able to contribute to developing strategy of survival (and it’s nothing short of that), the vast majority will hang on in there. Of course, some students and staff will become ill, others will suffer acute anxiety (understandably). Those studying in the North of England have to face challenges that, mercifully, we’ve avoided so far in this part of Wales. If any university can make this work, it’s ours. 12.30 pm: More emails; more scheduling. And so to the end of the afternoon.

4.30 pm: Unplugged.

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