December 21, 2015

The Sunday before Christmas is always a productively busy one. In the morning service at Holy Trinity Church, I was the principal narrator (only because someone else had withdrawn) for the Nativity play and, in the evening, sound engineer for, and a contributing reader to, the carol service:


Photograph courtesy of Jacqueline Harvey


Photograph courtesy of Jacqueline Harvey

The afternoon was dedicated to setting up the domestic Christmas tree (a task that all the Harveys participate in) and posting my Christmas e-card, together with an exegetical text (just in case there were misunderstandings about the intent).

8.00 am. These days, each household lives on top of a temporary mini landfill site of bags stuffed with plastic, paper, and glass bottles awaiting either collection by the ‘bin men’ (I’ve yet to see a ‘bin woman’) or transport to the local dump. I prepared the family deposit for both scenarios. 8.30 am. A time of soul reflection. One may despair of oneself while remaining hopeful. 9.00 am. I responded to a call by Mute Sound for a one-minute piece of music, which will be included on a compilation CD. My contribution is entitled Le Petit Exorcisme.

10.00 am. Back to marking. Some students fall at the first hurdle, having neither read closely enough nor grasped the aims of the assignment. This is a sign of disorganisation (about which much can be done) rather than of unintelligence. Others are bloody minded, and adapt the assignment to their own ends. The results can be excellent, but the point of the project, missed. One should think outside of the box; but one must also be able to act within it.

1.10 pm. A washing-up accident. A cracked bowl split in two and one of its razor-sharp edges cut a swathe into my thumb:


Perhaps, I should stick to drying and putting aware the crockery. 2.00 pm. Mark on; the Vale of Rheidol ‘Santa Train’ toots and hoots reverberantly in the background. I made the comment, on one submission: ‘Too Blue Petery!’ This phrase is in danger of entering my ‘Commonly Used’ bubble list. 4.30 pm. Finally, I completed first-stage mark entry, and then engaged mass PDFing of feedback forms in readiness for release on 23 December. Education is now an industrial process.

When I was young, I’d asked my Mam what she wanted for Christmas. ‘Peace and quiet!’, she’d invariably reply. This sounded rather unambitious to my ear. I now understand exactly what she meant. Those two commodities cost nothing but, then again, they can’t be bought either:


Joan Harvey, Abertillery, Christmas 1968

6.30 pm. Practice session 1. 7.40 pm. On with Image and Inscription, and a review of sections 1 and 2. No one section can be completed at this stage. Each responds and adjusts to its successors and predecessors. Relationships, likenesses, and correspondences — that were inconceivable at the outset — begin to emerge. Apposite resolutions to sonic problems are steadily being established. For example, in section 2, the voice of God now sounds like the slow growl of a big cat:

They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west (Hosea 11.10);

and like talking thunder:

Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered (John 12.29).




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