8.00 am: A communion and a reaffirmation of mutual commitment. 8.30 am: Life is curiously vitalised, presently  – like a blessing bestowed; like an immersion in a soothing warm bath after a cold day. I would not have dreamt that such days were still possible. 9.00 am: I and my PhD Fine Art tutee and her other supervisor, Professor Cruise, met on the steps of the School like anxious parents anticipating a new delivery. Today was the student’s viva voce. 9.15 am: As the External Examiner began his tour of the gallery, where the student’s work was hung, I finalised my preparations for the day ahead and chipped away at admin and preparations for tomorrow’s tutorials.

9.50 am: I wrote to a ‘sister’, to the effect:

There’s a particular grace that attends suffering, and only suffering. And in that grace there’s hope (even in the face of what appears impossible to bear and expect, humanly speaking). And, with those things, comes the experience of enabling and support. And, because of those things, there’s great joy and thanksgiving.

10.15 am: I received a ‘wrong number’ call from a woman who had manually, rather than speed, dialled her mother. A very human error. We laughed together. I didn’t ask who she was, and she never knew my identity either. Some ‘chance’ encounters do not extend beyond the moment, while others stretch into eternity. I needed to finalise a field-trip destination for those on my Abstraction module. London is a possibility (setting out at 5.30 am and returning at 11.30 pm). Quite a hike! Cardiff is also on the horizon, and more realistic.

11.25 pm: Outwards and upwards: my return to the National Library of Wales. Evidenly, I’d arrived already:

I met again with the audio-visual technician to check over the system. (Gremlins often come at night; it’s a well-established fact.) Afterwards, I was given a ‘free lunch’ (there is such a thing) at the Library’s restaurant – a light salad. (I don’t operate well on a heavy lunch.)

1.15 pm: Kick off!:

A reasonable number had dared act upon their curiosity. I made no bones about how difficult this work would be to explain and receive. Baring a few minor muffs caused by my congestion, the delivery (orally, visually, and acoustically) went reasonably well. Public speaking is always a self-education. The more familiar you are with the context of delivery, the more proficient the dispatch. This was only my second endeavour at Y Drwm’s lectern.  I need to believe more in the audience’s willingness to accept. The informal comments I received afterwards were very encouraging. I hadn’t lost them, or mired them in tecky-talk, or frightened them witless with all my ‘sound and fury’. A number even bought the CD from ‘the little shop’ in the Library. By the close of the hour, I was spent out.

My host took me for a cup of tea (I looked the type, obviously) afterwards. She’d been so helpful throughout the process, as have all the staff involved in this project. 2.30 pm: I stayed at the restaurant to pick up, and respond to, emails, and catch up on news from beyond the building. My PhD Fine Art student had passed their viva voce with flying colours. I was everywhere … and very self conscious:

3.30 pm: Another meeting with the Royal Commission related to the dementia project. Our objective, today, was to firm up a set of project initiatives that would be the basis of our workshops on 22 November, and to look at some of the representative artefacts in the Commission’s archive:

4.30 pm: Homeward. Aberystwyth’s evenings will be at their best for the next few months:

I caught up further with the world that had taken place in my absence. 5.30 pm: To dinner. I lay down afterwards on the settee in the lounge and lost two hours – Morpheus had prevailed over me. In a dream, I heard the noise of an unbalanced and irate man outside my house railing against me for some perceived affront (undisclosed). I knew that I had to confront him, armed and prepared. Then, I awoke … feeling unusually hungry. Breakfast cereal was called for.

Late evening, I listened to my lunchtime efforts, while preparing for tomorrow’s classes. It always surprises me how many ‘muffs’ can be made while reading a verbatim script. And these are often made towards of the lecture, as one begins to ‘race’ to the finishing line in the realisation that time is running out. Maybe no one in the audience noticed; I doubt if any remembered them. There’s so much one can learn from even small and inconsequential errors. But, today, I wasn’t firing on all cylinders; the cold was still very much active.

10.30 pm: Time up!


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