October 18, 2016

8.30 am: I made preparations for the Vocational Practice class at 11.00 am, before commencing a rerouted MA fine art tutorial. (The last of its kind for this week.) Two others followed. Students (especially the mature contingent) commencing the MA spend a good deal of their time raking over their past during the first few weeks of the course. Nothing wrong with that. Indeed, for some, it’s a prerequisite for moving forward. The hardest obstacle that all the students have to overcome is that mountain of accrued presuppositions of what their MA artwork to come ought to look like. To face the unknown unknowingly is, to my mind, a better approach — a state of ignorant bliss out of which quite extraordinary and wholly unexpected outcomes may emerge. It takes enormous courage to jump, aware only that there’s no safety net to catch you.

11.00 am: Vocational Practice took the form of a debate within a ‘fish bowl’. The exercise is designed to fail. On this occasion it failed to fail … which was a credit to the participating students. Nevertheless, sufficient lessons were learned to justify the indulgence. The challenge for me is to keep the whole group (this large group) on the mark most of the time. I’m not there yet.

12.45 pm: Luggage in hand, I headed off to the railway station, picking up lunch on the way:


En route to Shrewsbury, I finalised my list of questions, and inserted Post-its into the thesis, in readiness for the PhD Fine Art viva voce that I’m attending in Swansea, tomorrow:


On the Shrewsbury to Swansea leg of the journey, I reviewed my conference paper notes. The train’s pre-recorded announcements were an exercise in choral speaking. The litany of stations to be called at was recited by four distinct voices with contrasting dynamics. I’m curious as to why this should be. It’s good to be heading south, again. Usually, I sit with my back to the engine. This is because, constitutionally, I tend to face where I’ve been rather than where I’m heading. Perhaps this is true of all historians.

5.25 pm: Newport. I saluted my alma mater as the train passed:


6.40 pm: Swansea. I’m staying at a South Wales standard swish hotel, close to the university campus. On my arrival, the receptionist was attempting to show a German family how to switch on their phone’s mobile-roaming facility (the on-screen instructions for which were in German).

The room:


The dinner:


8.00 pm: The admin aftermath:


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