August 30, 2018

5.30 am: I stirred … restless. The night was passing. Gulls screeched in the near distance, and then also passed. In the silence, I heard the hum of electrical devices. My thoughts were in disarray – like flakes in a shaken snow dome. I heard a hum in my head … and my heart beating slowly, dividing the day up. I reviewed email before preparing myself for what was likely to be demanding day. But I’d much prefer to be on my side of the appointment panel’s table than on the candidate’s side. By the close of the afternoon, one person’s life will have changed significantly. And, thereafter, the School will change measurably too, once they make their contribution to its life and work.

8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Off to School to prepare for the morning’s presentations:

Each candidate gave an account of a notional seminar they’d hold with students, based on an artefact in the School’s collection. In the audience were staff and postgraduates. This was a tough assignment: it tested the candidate’s research, adaptability, presentation skills, and pedagogy. And I learned a great deal about all three during the course of the morning. Quite apart from the occasion, it was good to sit at the feet of the next generation of academics. 12.00 pm: I took an early lunch and time to review their application forms in the light of the morning’s performance. This was an instructive exercise.

12.45 pm: The interview panel convened. An exhausting afternoon ensured. But the candidates worked the hardest:

They fielded a body of very searching questions. (I should address them to myself at some point.) The rigour and transparency (a much overused word, these days) of the proceedings was impressive and tiresome in equal measure. By 4.30 pm, I was addled by the interrogation. But we’d all kept our heads and focus throughout. Back at my office, I proceeded to second-mark a pair of resit essays:

7.30 pm: I continued double marking, and posted emails (with Henry Cow’s Legend (1973) in the background). 8.30 pm: Back to my paper, and a review of the writing and presentation to date. Now the ‘voice’ has been established, I proceeded to redraft the earlier sections and bring them in line with the tone of the later excursions. Night fell, and Thursday August 30, 2018 passed into history:


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