December 19, 2016

Yesterday. 11.00 am: The morning service, Holy Trinity Church. A darkly dressed, grouchy, and imperious Archangel Gabriel, amid smaller and far more winning angels, and with shepherds of all sizes and ages looking on, complains about his scuppered plans for Christ’s birth, at the Nativity play:

After the service, he humbled himself and did something genuinely useful, by helping to change the altar clothes:

Following lunch, the family set themselves to decorate the domestic Christmas tree. We’ve always done this together. It’s a collaboration, negotiated compromise, and clash of irreconcilable aesthetic values from beginning to end:

Today. 9.00 am: There’s much to do initiate this week, work wise, alongside all the necessary preparations of the Christmas weekend ahead. 9.10 am: The builders arrived with a cherry picker to restore our ‘troughing’ (pronounced ‘trowing’ in some parts of South Wales), which was misshapen by the hurricane that hit Aberystwyth last month.  9.20 am: Off to the surgery for a further blood test. Ten thousand Christmas trees would not alleviate the impersonality or fill the hollowness of this interior:

One crimson vial later, I was on my way home, where the builders had, now, elevated, and gained confidence with, their wondrous vehicle:

10.30 pm: I dug out the text for my conference paper on ‘Image and Inscription’. This will form the basis of the journal article — which is a very different articulation of the same ideas. It needs to be tighter, more closely argued, denser, less conversational, and a bit longer. I find that breaking into a composition designed for one purpose and adapting it to another is actually harder work than beginning an entirely new piece of writing. And initiating that process is the hardest part of that hard work. Down to it, then!

1.50 pm. After lunch, I continued to hold fast the nettle. The task is made more difficult at this time of the year, when the mind hankers after rest. (And let’s not mention the marking that needs to be done.) One has to search deep into one’s self for that emergency ration — the last fragment of dry biscuit at the bottom of the tin. 3.45 pm: Respite. I poked around with one of the pedalboards that I’ll be upgrading over Christmas. I need to separate the wah-wah and the volume pedals, so that they can be played, left and right of the board, with both feet. Ergonomics. 5.15 pm: Having focussed on the nitty gritty of date-checking, inserting Hebrew words, and sharpening sentences, I was able to get some way into the text without taxing my powers of conceptualisation (which were presently as potent as a dying AAA battery).

6.30 pm: Practise session 1. 7.30 pm: An experiment. Could I hear any discernible improvement in the clarity of output and floor level noise reduction by powering a pedalboard using a series of isolated inputs, rather than a daisy chain from a single output? No! And hearing is the decisive test. 8.15 pm: Back to the article … in a small way, and on with the beginning of marking set-up for the Art/Sound presentations.

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