June 28, 2016

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them (Lev. 19.33).


On June 25, my family and I left St Ives, where we’d enjoyed our summer holiday, and headed for Newport, Gwent. The town in which I’d spent my undergraduate years has been in decline for decades. There appears to be little hope of reversing that trajectory in the short term:


The following day, we visited my old art college at Clarence Place, and some of the few relatives that I have remaining in South Wales, before driving to Abertillery and Blaina to show my sons where their father had misspent his youth.

Yesterday, I cleared my inbox of all those articles of mail that had accumulated over the vacation period. The rest of the day was dedicated to completing the CD text and planning my research itinerary for the summer. There’s much to do: tasks that have remained unresolved for too long now must be settled. ‘Clear the decks, John!’ My plans and determinations are racing too far ahead of the present time.

9.00 am. Off to School to clear my pigeon hole (the original, analogue ‘inbox’) and retrieve parcels. Phil ‘the porter’ was righting the wrongs of the England football team’s management, following their defeat, yesterday, at the hands/feet of Iceland. If a small country with a population the size of Leicester (and a dentist for a manager) can climb to the top, then there’s hope that our own fair isles can prevail against the odds too.

I ruminated upon my vacation experiences in Cornwall. The Bottallack Mine, pitched on the cliff edge on the west coast, is one of the most impressive and haunting sites of industrial archaeology in the UK:



Like the ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum, it’s the wreckage of a bygone civilisation. All ages, empires, and nations have their allotted time. Ruins remind us of the inevitable decline and decay that, one day, will characterise our own.  The wrinkles, aches, and incipient dementia are already beginning to show.

Nailed to a post in Barbara Hepworth’s studio at St Ives (which is, now, part of the Barbara Hepworth Museum), I came across a note that she’d written to herself (presumably):


Irrationally, perhaps, I found the statement a little unnerving. It came to me as a reminder of a fundamental commitment, call-to-arms, and pronouncement.

Throughout the day I made my final edit of the CD text: cutting and refining, sharpening and reordering. Done! I write poorly sometimes. My inconsistency is possibly the only thing that is consistent about my performance across all departments of my life.

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