September 28, 2020

Miles Davis (d. September 28, 1991)
‘Virtual is the new real.’

Saturday, September 26. I worked in parallel on completing pastoral admin, developing online teaching resources, and micro-mixing several of the choral-type compositions from the suite. The latter is often a painstakingly slow and an exacting process of ideation and realisation. ‘Wind for fast-flowing water; the crack of dried twigs for a hedge torn to shreads; and the turning of crisp paper pages for the thunder and rattle of a coach and horses. Nothing was what it seemed. The literal, vanquished.

4.30 pm: A run to Llanbadarn Fawr village on a glorious autumnal afternoon, where I met the churchyard cat:

Monday, September 28. Due to several outbreaks of Covid-19 cases within the student community over the weekend, the university had rightly decided to temporarily move to on-line teaching until the situation could be properly assessed. Safety first.┬áMy morning’s itinerary thus became one of further course material conversion for online delivery first thing tomorrow morning. (There was always a ‘Plan B’.) 8.15 am: A communion. 8.45 am: The inbox was awash with staff communiques. First thing: letters of encouragement and information, invites to online meetings, and further catch-up with those students on temporary withdrawal.

10.30 am: I continued modifying materials for delivering the MA Vocational Practice module online. University World as spinning very quickly during the morning. Updates, policies, and imperatives flowed like Niagra Falls. Maintaining the safety of the student community and that of the town will entail making difficult decisions that not all will agree with. Work is measured out hour-by-hour. Today’s problems will not be those of tomorrow. Nor this week’s challenges those of the next.

One of the troubling aspects of this pandemic is its potential effect on student mental health. For some, this experience will prove intolerable. Those who’re living away from home for the first time are likely to be the most vulnerable. Responding to regulations, filling in questionaires, receiving a Covid-19 test, and staying put, aren’t going to assuage either the students’ anxiety or that of their parents. They also need to talk with someone and, as importantly, to know that they’re listened to.

In the background of my administrations, I continued to listen to my own work — as an audient — and a short video documentary on the sound work of Steve Parry/Hwyl Nofio. He and I are about the same age and share a common heritage. Were both non-standard guitar players and sound makers brought-up amid the landscape of heavy industry of South Wales. We’ve retained a deep and haunting affection for its soundscape. I hope, one day, we have a chance to collaborate.

7.30 pm: Research admin called. Image orders for an article to chase. Good news!: ‘The Religion & Art’ symposium, organised by Goldsmiths University will still go ahead, albeit online, in November. So, nothing I’d prepared will have gone to waste:

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