October 17, 2017

While waiting on Platform 3 at Shrewsbury station for a train, which had been delayed by nearly two hours due to problems caused by the storm, I alighted upon this plaque. I assumed that ‘here’ implied where I was standing, or thereabouts, on Platform 3. An image came into my head of the composer, see-sawing on his toes and heels with his hands clasped behind his back, either humming or whistling aloud a tune, while honing the melody and constructing the harmonies, as he himself marked time before an equally late train arrived. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be something to extend Hughes’ practice and compose further ‘hymns’, in situ, on the other platforms of the station. (I logged the idea in my mental archive of ‘possible ventures’ for the future.) The only precedent that I’m aware of a railway station being the context for sound performance is Robert Fripp’s November Suite, which was performed at Green Park Station, Bath.

9.00 am: A discussion with one of my PhD Fine Art tutees. Among other topics, we explored the issues and challenges of public engagement. How does one reach out to people with work that is difficult to comprehend immediately? How can one educate them sufficiently to apprehend the work, without appearing to be patronising. I’ve come to the conclusion that the onus is on me to extend the invitation to them, rather than expect that them to find to the work sufficiently interesting to warrant investigation. (That is a rather arrogant position.)

11.10 am: The weekly MA Vocational Practice class comes around so soon. Today’s topic: ‘Delivering Lectures’. (‘Listen to what you’re saying, John. You may learn something.’) Once again, the students provided perspectives that hadn’t occurred to me. Lecturing today is not what it once was. The advent of multimedia, and our knowledge of audience attention spans and the psychology of learning, have dramatically changed the process of delivery and reception:

12.30 pm: I dispatched two re-routed tutorials before returning home for lunch. The autumn leaves really do like my pathway. After the storm – a bed made for union:

2.00 pm: The first of two MA Fine Art tutorials. 3.00 pm: I responded to student work before my final tutorial of the day, at 4.00 pm. I could do no more. Parks have always been a place of solace for me. I can’t remember the number of times that I’d circuited Roath Park, Cardiff on some mental, emotional, relational, or spiritual ‘jog’, back the early 80s. Plasgrug Avenue feels vaguely Parisienne. It’s as close to a park as you’ll get in these parts:

At the end of the path, I cut through the municipal cemetery to alight on Llanbadarn Road. The cemetery has too many occupants who died too young, many of whom are known to me personally. I held an angel in my sight, like Jacob did the ‘man’ at the Ford of Jabbok:

7.30 pm: A difficult evening lay ahead.


 

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