6.3o am: What happened to my wake-up call? Why can’t I turn the shower off? 7.00 am: Breakfast. I invariably succumb to hotel Frosties. I like rock music too. But I’m less keen when its jangling from the speakers at this time in the morning. Bach is better for breakfast; a cultured accompaniment to croissants. 7.30 am: A spot of email catch-up before the business of the day. There must be a name to describe the peculiar melancholy felt upon leaving hotels. (Hotelacholia, perhaps.) 8.30 am: The taxi arrived to dispatch me to the university’s Mount Pleasant campus, from which the dockland area could be seen saturated in the amber sunshine in the far distance. (Industrial Claude.):
The instructions that I’d been given regarding the venue for the viva voce were incorrect. Mercifully, a pair of postgraduates took me under their wing, and used their sense of likelihood and knowledge of past precedent to determine the true whereabouts of my port of call. I would not have got there on time without them. The viva proper followed a consultation meeting with the internal examiner and Chair. We anticipated that our interrogation would be searching and hard hitting. Which is as it should be. The discussion lasted an hour and twenty minutes. Afterwards, the internal examiner and I consulted with one another, and our decision, disclosed to the candidate. The engagement was well executed by all the participants.
12.15 pm: Lunch in Pizza Express; sustenance for the long journey ahead. I’ve a poor attitude to Swansea. The only things I like about it are my memories of what once was there – like the Wimpy restaurant. The city hasn’t recovered from the blitz, in my opinion. Many of the premises on the borders of the shopping precinct are either boarded up and abandoned or else over optimistically anticipating renewal:
1.55 pm: The journey home began. The train passed Port Talbot Steelworks. I miss the industrial landscape; it was the backdrop to my childhood, until the coal mines were closed by Thatcher:
I bashed out my final report on the candidate’s performance at the oral and addressed incoming emails. A little Starbuckery at Shrewsbury station. The notice inside the café read: ‘Thank you for choosing Starbucks’. But I had no choice; there isn’t another place for refreshments on the platform.
5.29 pm: On the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth leg of the journey I made notes for the proposed Art/Spirit module. This will form the third part of an inter-relational trilogy of modules of which Art/Sound and Abstraction are the other two thirds. Beyond Machynlleth (the gateway to home), I ruminated upon my conference paper notes once again. On Friday, I shall begin writing it in earnest. On arrival, the train’s announcement bid the passengers farewell: ‘Thank you for travelling with Arriva Trains Wales’. But, again, I had no choice! There are no other train companies on this line!, I remonstrated (silently).