7.00 am. Rise. This is a hotel that services builders and contractors; they were mobile from shortly after 6.00 am. When men only run a hotel, there’s often a certain conviviality and homely sparkle lacking at the breakfast table. Still … the cereal fayre was decent and the scrambled egg, a treat. Apparently, in the fourteenth century, when the hotel was a manor, the Lord had made one of his maid servants pregnant. Her baby was still-born and, afterwards, buried in the cellar. The mother, who died of heartache, is to be seen wandering in tears between two bedrooms today.
8.30 am. Taxi booked; I waited. The taxi driver wasn’t sure where the college was situated, and he was a little hard of hearing. iPad GPS to the rescue. I arrived shortly after 9.00 am, but much of my ‘merchandise’ hadn’t preceded me. I improvised with a MacBook and an iPad (again). My new found, if rather taciturn, friends:
Is the ‘merchandise’ en route? This is very frustrating. Cardiff Metropolitan is drawing my customers away like a blackhole. Other institutions have loads of visuals, and their stalls are dual staffed. People want stuff, not consultation necessarily, to take back to their colleges and schools. ‘Turn on the charisma, John!’ Most of those who came to me had had little by way of advice about how and where to apply. They are young people in transition, They hardly know themselves yet, let alone what they want to do in life. They were impressed by my dual deployment of a MacBook and iPad. (There’s a lesson to be learned here.) And, everyone liked the pens:
11.45 am. A lull. Lunch was on the way, I was told:
Inquiries about illustration, photography, and fashion were particularly prevalent. I assembled lunch on a plate a little larger than a saucer. Balance and design skills were called for in order to construct a tight and tall arrangement of sandwiches and crisps (which can be inserted in the negative spaces between quartered sandwiches).
Get the students to sit down … then, they open up. Be humane.
The final half hour offered slim pickings. My colleague from Cardiff drove me back into town. Competing institutions can still behave civilly one to another. 2.30 pm. It was time for a hot chocolate with email catch-up before heading for the train station:
I took the dinky train again from Stourbridge Town back to the Junction (which has a winning spirit):
From there I went on to Smethwick GB, and endured a prolonged wait for a crowded train. Tiredness was catching up on me. Every time I pass Newtown Station I recall John McCasey, who passed away during his first year of PhD Fine Art studies. He’d made several memorable and haunted paintings of this and other stations on the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth line during his MA Fine Art degree.
A passenger opposite me reminded me of a student that I’d once taught, as she might have appeared in her youth. Lo and behold, that very same student and her husband passed me in the train aisle a little later on. Some coincidences are very curious. (‘Thela Hun Gingeet’.) 7.20 pm. Arrived home. After a late dinner, I buried myself in the study to complete various bit of admin and teaching preparation for tomorrow.