Eifion Gywnne lived next door to me. He was the proverbial gentle giant with an enormous presence in our neighbourhood and the town: a courteous, unassuming, and hardworking man, as well as a dedicated father and husband. On Saturday night, Eifion was suddenly torn away from everyone whom he’d loved and everything that he’d worked for. Some people leave an enormous hole when they’re unrooted. He is one of them. The electrician’s van bearing his name is still parked on the road. (How strange that inanimate objects should endure, when we no longer do.) About the same time, six Glaswegians were killed in a Spanish taxi accident and thirteen people died in a Californian tour bus crash. No one on this side of the divide can answer the questions: Why them?, Why there?, and Why then? I suspect that there’re answers, but, equally, that we aren’t prepared to hear them. Such ruptures highlight the tenuous nature of our connection to this world. ‘Be careful what you live for, and how you live, John!’
9.00-10.15 am: I set up the week ahead: teaching tutorials were confirmed, personal tutorials invited, lectures reviewed, and seminars prepared. Each week, I fit a quart into a pint pot. That’s the way it has to be if I’m to preserve enough energy and the space for research. I began the conference paper proper. This will be an exercise in concise expression, a sprightly pace of delivery, and a smooth transition from one idea to another, all within a narrow timeframe. In my experience, if you can get the first paragraph to accord with these ambitions, the rest will (sort of) follow suit.
Lunchtime: My amp head has returned from the repair shop for the second time. I’m perplexed. It has consistently failed for me but worked for the repairers. The only difference between my test and that of the technicians is the type of cables used to connect the head to the cabinets. I’ll test the hypothesis this evening:
Afternoon: The introductory remarks and theoretical underpinnings were established in as succinct a manner as I could muster. I’m relying on the PowerPoint slides to elaborate upon ideas in parallel with my spoken discourse. The slides need to be clear and sophisticated, but not showy; sufficient, rather than abundant in number; illuminating, rather than merely informative, whenever possible; and complementary to, rather than echoing, the spoken discourse:
6.30 pm: Practice Session 1. Before returning to work, I tested the amp head. Bravo! Both channels sung in unison again:
7.30 pm: I’ve an extra-curricula ‘gig’ on Friday evening, as the School of Art hosts the Aberystwyth Friendship Group. The PowerPoint needed a little sprucing-up and extending, and the paper, culling.