September 12th, 2020


From You Have I Been Absent in Late Summer

I've not posted lately, largely from lack of matter, or rather of motivation (coruscating squibs about the political situation project a continual firework display against my cerebral cortex, but I mostly don't share them because to point out the criminality of people committing crimes in plain view seems otiose), but also because my life in the last couple of weeks has been in a weird suspension.

The people I'm meant to be buying a house from told me to expect to move on 28th August, and I accordingly started turning my own house upside down in readiness, while busily preparing online lectures and seminar materials against the imminent arrival of students eager to learn. However, for various non-too-clear reasons the move got delayed, and I now don't expect it to happen for another month, i.e. well into the new semester. Having a few days without internet will be an interesting experience in Week 1, as I prepare to lead the core first-year module by the medium of online seminar.

Meanwhile, I just heard Louis Bird on the radio, talking about how he was commuting from Bristol to Cardiff to work on some "terrible TV show" and felt that his life was in a rut and that he simply had to follow in his father's footsteps and become an ocean rower. I can't say that the same commute has had that effect on me so far; on the other hand, at this point I haven't been to Cardiff for six months! Perhaps the ocean-rowing bug will bite only once there's a vaccine?

Fun fact: the Japanese for vaccine is "wakuchin" - pronounced something like "whack chin." It's easy to remember - just picture someone receiving an upper cut.


Bristol is a city where temporary art often pops up overnight like midnight mushrumps. Recently we had the statue of Edward Colston replaced - for a day - with one of Jen Reid, while a couple of weeks ago members of Portishead, Massive Attack and others took to the skies to serenade the city from hot-air balloons in an event by the ever-creative Luke Jerram.

A couple of days ago this sculpture appeared in a niche opposite a multi-storey carpark - a young person being comforted by a Winnie-the-Pooh style bear. I saw it in the paper, but today I walked over to look at it with my daughter.


I find it a strangely moving piece of work. I expect that it too will be ephemeral - but aren't we all?