7.00 am. An interrupted night’s sleep. Perhaps something I ate. Time to get on top of the small tasks. 8.45 am. Off to School. There are signs of turbulence in the skies; ‘As below, so above’. 9.00 am. The first MA Fine Art tutorial of the new academic year. And this is odd: a painting of a forest by a former MA Fine Art student, Stephen Hampton, turns up, from who knows where, in the studio space of a new MA Fine Art student, whose passion is painting forests. One should take such coincidences seriously:
10.00 am. The second MA Fine Art tutorial of the morning. Different student; different complexion to the tutorial. That’s, in part, what makes these exchanges so rich and demanding. 11.10 am. Having done battle with a counter-intuitive and begrudging photocopier, I fell headlong into the second Vocational Practice class, dealing with small-group tutorials (of which the class was a prime example). The group is shaping up well; it already has cohesion and that internal and necessary self-respect. 12.30 pm. A second BA dissertation tutorial of the semester, on the topic of the visual culture of astrology. I’m learning a great deal.
1.00 pm. On the way to the railway station, I picked up lunch before beginning the first leg on my journey, in the drizzle, to Stourbridge. Emails confronted, instructions despatched, and diary updated, I settled to examine an MA Art History dissertation. (Reading the topic on a train was entirely apposite.) Approaching Borth: Autumn is present as much in the lowering sky as in the hues of the trees:
4.22 pm. I arrived at Smethwick GB and took another train to Stourbridge Junction, where I alighted the smallest train I’d ever been on, to Stourbridge Town:
From the town rail and bus station I took a shortish walk to The Talbot Hotel (pronounced ‘Tal’ not ‘Tall’): formerly, a seventeenth century town house of some substance … that must be haunted. It simply must. My room is spacious and characterful, and like the rooms I used to stay in on holiday with my parents as a child. I’ll endeavour to sit on every chair before my stay is out, to get my money’s worth. Old hotels no longer boast trouser and tie presses:
The wifi is super slow. The offer of free wifi always has a sting in its tale. Having settled, I was off to town in search of an evening meal … until I found the bar/restaurant in the hotel, and remained there. An acceptable lasagne was had:
7.10 pm. I revived my original intent and made a brief walk up and down the High Street, before committing myself to understanding how the shower worked. I stare at the mantlepiece in the hope that an ornament might move without mortal agency. This clearly isn’t the Overlook Hotel. I showered to the commentary of a BBC 4 documentary on the Birmingham and Stourbridge canal system. I’ve watched Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) too many times to be entirely comfortable taking a shower in a hotel with the bathroom door unlocked. 8.30 pm. A time for reflection.