Before I could see the light, I had to acknowledge the darkness.
I got out of bed at 1.30 am and 3.30 am. I’m not sure whether I slept before these times. Having worked for an hour, I returned to bed at 4.30 am, and slept until 7.00 am. I’d not had tea after 1.30 pm or eaten anything after 6.00 pm on the preceding day. So, what was the matter with me? My computer has no problems going to sleep. I wish someone could find and push my button too. 8.00 am: A dozy communion.
8.30 am: Mentally fog-bound, I set about undertaking a self-assessment and preparing for the day ahead. As I entered the self-assessment ‘portal’ (Grief! How we use words these days.), I sensed strongly that I was coming to the end of a cycle in my professional life. What this implies, only time will tell. However, I’m not content to wait for change; sometimes you have to force its hand. I need to assess the likelihood of the possibilities, opportunities, and challenges to come, and my ability to respond to them. (These dimensions aren’t addressed by the assessment form. But they’re far more important considerations than any of the things that are.) We are each bound by our time and energy. Presently, for me, these are diminishing resources. Like many employees in Higher Education, I’m on the cusp of a dilemma: when a difficult job tips towards becoming an impossible job. (In the background, I attended to medical ‘objectives’.) 10.30 pm: Off to School:
I met with a history graduate from South Wales who wanted to talk about ideas emerging from my first book: The Art of Piety: The Visual Culture of Welsh Nonconformity (1995). I’ve not read it since I wrote it. The visitor had the advantage in that respect. ‘Did I say that?’, was my response, on too many occasions. It’s heartening to know that the publication still has some relevance, and that there’s a new generation of scholars emerging who’ll take some of the ideas further. I’ve come along way, and broadened my interests considerably, during the last twenty three years. Nevertheless, what I do presently is still rooted in a preoccupation with how what is invisible is made manifest, in words, texts, and sounds. 12.00 pm: I had a no-show for my next appointment. 12.30 pm: Domestic duties in town, lunch, and a spot of watering-hole admin, were engaged earlier than planned, therefore:
I pressed on with resourcing sound equipment, monitoring incoming emails (as though they were nuclear missiles), and reflecting further upon my self assessment:
What do I find most satisfying and dissatisfying about my job?, the questionnaire asked. Well, filling-in self-assessment forms through a portal would be high on my list for the latter. My no-show appointee found me at the watering hole; so we were able to talk through the noontime business afterall. 3.15 pm: I walked around the corner to the Old College, just as it started to rain, to hold tutorials with my three finalising MA Fine Art students. The vexed question of titles was a common theme. Each student is moving to the finishing line with conviction, confidence, and clarity of objective. Then …
5.10 pm: Homeward.
7.30 pm: For the remainder of the day and into the early hours of the morning, I worked away at my self-assessment document. My sense, at the end, is that I’m setting myself up to fail. I’ve reconciled myself to this. A sense of failure is likely to be the dominant impression I’ll take way with me on retirement. No one can do this job satisfactorily any longer.