September 4, 2018

6.00 am: Did I sleep or not? GA plays havoc with my grasp on reality, Circadian Rhythm, and blood pressure. On the basis of prior experience, I anticipated that the latter would plummet, both today and tomorrow, and, thereafter, return to normal. My days this week are going to be punctuated by periods of rest, as well as bouts of comic one-armed wrestling with jam jars, milk containers, and canned food; one-handed typing and camera-phone operation; cautiously slow shaves; and precarious showers with a plastic bin liner strapped to my arm. As the nerve block injections into my hand began to wear off, I experienced an irritating and unrelievable itch under the bandage and, I suspect, a plaster cast too. (Which would explain the residue of white powder on my fingers.) I’d taken two heavy doses of Ibuprofen and Co-codamol (which exacerbates the experience of perpetual drowsiness), in the hope that these drugs would keep severe discomfort at bay. If not, then, I’d suffer like Paul Atreides with this hand in the Gom Jabbar.

Around 1509, Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) drew a full-length nude self portrait. He’d have been about 38 years of age at the time. It has a remarkable honesty, unselfconsciousness, and vulnerability. There’s no shame, indulgence, or eroticism to be found in its fearfully penetrating vision of frail flesh. He died eighteen years later, at the age of 56. (I’ve outlived him.) In the 1520s, the artist came under of influence of the religious Reformer Martin Luther (1483–1546), and subsequently converted to Protestantism. Around this time, Dürer began to be concerned that he was losing his sight and the freedom of his hand:

8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: I wandered around the house in track bottoms, looking like a chav. (With only one hand, negotiating the buttons and belt of slim-fit regular trousers would be … well … a challenge.) My concentration level was sporadic, so I caught up on Instagram tagging, with King Crimson playing in the background. (My elder son and I will be seeing them, again, in November. Note to self: I owe Mr Fripp a letter.):

In my head, I could still sense that my little finger was bent over at 90°. This must be akin to the experience of ‘phantom limbs’, wherein amputees can still mentally visualise and ‘feel’ the absent body part. What had been true was now an illusion. That, in itself, was a proposition worthy of further consideration. The finger appeared to be straight, because I could see it was strapped cosily to the normal finger. But my brain told me the contrary. I believed the truth with one part of mind, but not with another. A curious sensation:

The painkillers gave me chest-rattlingly loud hiccups. (‘Man-up, buddy’, I could imagine my ‘muse’ saying; ‘Some people have nausea, stomach inflammation, and vomiting too, you know’.) True.

After lunch, I rested for a while following a minor ‘wobble’. (The lower blood pressure had kicked in.) The site of the operation had begun to sting. 3.00 pm: Back to tagging. I turned to my scholarly journal, periodically.

7.30 pm: An evening off. My younger son wished to watch The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (1968). I was all for that. My parents had taken me to see it in Cardiff, when I was nine years of age. It really wasn’t for them. I was mesmerised, though. It remains a remarkable piece of animation. And who could forget the joke about the ‘University of Whales [Wales]‘. Never did suspect that, in later life, I’d be studying and working at the Aberystwyth branch for most of my professional career.

This is the one thousand and last post. The Diary began on July 16, 2014. It has continued, with breaks for feet-finding, holidays, and short periods of respite, for over four years. Initially, its aim was to provide an insight into the day-to-day experience of a university academic. Inevitably, other aspects of my life seeped into the narrative. Academics are only human, after all. My decision to bring this story to a conclusion today is arbitrary, in one sense. One thousand is a large and rounded number. And that many blogs was more than sufficient to the task. I anticipate that another diary will emerge in another place and at another time. (This present Diary will remain readable.) When, and what its form, content, purpose, and regularity will be, and who (if anyone) will be allowed to read it, is as yet undetermined. The events of my life will decide. My thanks to all of you who’ve followed ‘the story so far’ as either dedicated or occasional readers, and for your encouraging comments, wise counsel, good humour, understanding, and sober reflections along the way.

The bed of fallen leaves
that Ophelia laid,
Is drawn away upon the tide.

The box, resealed and bound
within another now,
Is cast down in the teal sea’s drop

The wind blows westerly
across the cloistered park,
Towards the shore where he’d look out.

The sea that heard his heart
recite, his tread and breath,
Retreats and bares the cold shingle.


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September 3, 2018