Either None or Four

Today is the last day of my summer leave + furlough; I resume work for St Stephen’s House tomorrow; Noughth Week begins with Sunday Mass. Morning run in more chilly drizzle, Morning Office, morning Mass, hot breakfast, a debrief from the doctor who took one of the interviews I participated in several weeks ago. I went to the study to make a bit more progress on James, then home for lunch, then off to Tesco for groceries, then into town to pick up the trousers I bought ten days or so ago. Alas, for the second time, a tailor has not understood how to sew the buttons onto trousers such that one can wear them with button-on braces. What is the world coming to? Emily, the wonderful manager at Moss Bros., has sent them back to the tailor and will put a bee in his ear.
There was a tailback coming out of the city centre, so I spent a half hour on the bus, then dashed to Tesco to pick up a few groceries I’d forgotten, and made my way home at last. I edited some pages of Legends, enjoyed Margaret’s delicious broccoli, rice, and quinoa balls for dinner, and watched Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets before turning in for the day.

Take Five

Chilly, drizzly morning run, Morning Office, morning Mass for St Michael and all angels, fruit breakfast, trip to Boots so that Margaret may obtain passport photos (she needs me to advise her on when she’s in the correct position for the camera, since without her glasses she can’t see the frame). Some positive work on James, lunch, some appointments, some Legends (the end of Volume 2 is in sight), a little more James reading, home for dinner (we ordered pizza), and we watched the first two episodes of Ozark and are dubious about watching it further. Honestly, are we supposed to be patient with these people? (And I ask this as someone with a long-standing Laura Linney screen crush.)

Now We Are Six (Days From Term)

Chilly morning run, Morning Office, morning Mass, fruit breakfast, a little Legends to warm up for the day, then to the study to work on James. Or at least, that was my intent when I went to the study; instead, I spent time tidying up and working on my course plans for this term. Home for lunch, a little more Legends, and back to the study where I saw a way into covering more in my James essay. Home for dinner (Quorn chicken roast, mashed potatoes, and veg) and Welcome to the Punch, which was doing adequately as an actioner till the abrupt ending. Oh, and an episode of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.

Counting Down From Seven

Another cold run this morning, with Morning Office, hot breakfast, morning Mass, a little time on Legends, a protracted exploration of rural Oxfordshire (in the abstract; Margaret is working on a jigsaw puzzle map of Oxford from the early 17th century) whereby we sought the settlement which seemed to read ‘Jewcote’ on the map (obviously a startling, disturbing toponym). I couldn’t find any reference to a ‘Jewcote’ in Oxfordshire at all, but by comparing its position to other nearby municipalities, we deduced that it must be Fencott. That was exciting. We also remarked on the sudden frequency of particular phrases — Margaret noted ‘perfect storm’, which rocketed into prominence after Sebastian Junger published his best-selling book about the town next to her hometown; I flagged up the phrase ‘sea change’, which was uncommon through my younger years, but started trending upward dramatically around 1980. Now, one can hardly encounter any converging adversities without them becoming a perfect storm of misery, one that doesn’t just bring about dramatic effects, but has to cause a sea change in circumstances.

A little more Legends, some keyboard tappings toward James and miracles, leftover pasta for dinner, and an episode of Midsomer Murders.

Eight Before Noughth

A very chilly morning run (5°), Morning Office, Morning Mass, hot breakfast, then banging away at James and miracles. Or, more to the point, a gallant attempt at a writing session; I went in to my study, and spent a couple of hours waiting through system updates, application updates, moving furniture to prepare for ventilation, moving books to make room for the moved furniture, and so on. By the time I had gotten things into shape, it was time for me to connect for a three-hour information session with the Senior Tutor. That session ended in part because Margaret blessedly made enough noise with dinner prep. We dined on pasta and tomato sauce, with a new brand of faux-meatballs. Last episode of this series of Baron Noir, a couple of Cats Does Countdown, and the end of a full day.

And Back From the Shore

No run this morning, of course, since I hadn’t brought along my trainers. Morning Office, pizza for breakfast, a brief visit to the Delias before catching our train back to Victoria (then the Oxford Tube to home). Afternoon spent gathering and resting before a late afternoon appointment (which was delayed, then ultimately cancelled). Margaret made her chickpea omelettes for dinner, and we watched more Baron Noir.

New Orders

No run this morning, as it was raining heavily when I woke up. Although the showers had abated a little later, by then I needed to get ready for morning Mass. Fruit breakfast, then packing up odds and ends for an overnight to Worthing for Josh Delia’s ordination. Travel went smoothly, we obtained sustenance from a Pizza Hut, then dressed and set out for St John the Divine Church in Worthing (but not before Margaret and I held a spur-of-the-moment photo session)…

Victorian Cleric in Ecstasy

The ordination service was very fine, though it’s a shame that more people could not have come (‘because of the pandemic’). Victoria and Simon and Luke came down from Oxford as well. After the ordination — there being no reception because of the pandemic — we returned to the Premier Inn, had another slice or two of our pizzas (saving some for breakfast), and turned in for a good night’s sleep.

Bearing Down on James

Morning run, Morning Office, Morning Mass, and a morning of concentrated writing about James. Wee break at midday for lunch and some Legends to clear my head, then back to James, and then some more Legends. Leftovers for dinner, and more Baron Noir.


Early run, Morning Office, Mass, fruit breakfast, and steady work on Legends, as I’m getting near the end of volume 2. I’ve hit the ‘Moses in Egypt’ section, and while the Twelve Patriarchs were like a Judaic early version of the Avengers, Moses is the solo superhero type. Thus far, he is more like Batman — self-made natural hero, albeit with amazingly good looks — than Superman. Then again, he hasn’t spent that much time listening to God yet, so he may not have grown into his powers. I do love the way Dathan and Abiram keep popping up as Mosaic supervillains. We dined at Majliss with Fr Richard and Jamie (staying till closing), and turned in with full hearts and full bellies.

Matthew’s Monday

Up early, ran my mile-and-a-half, Morning Office, Mass for St Matthew’s Day, a lightning strike at the grocery, and a day’s struggle for productive labour toward organising my Michaelmas teaching, advancing the cause of my essay on James, and manifest progress on volume 2 of Legends. I made fajitas for dinner, and we started watching series 3 of Baron Noir, which did not help us entertain salubrious thoughts about electoral politics.

End of the Summer

I don’t technically return to work for another week, but it’s time to begin whipping my teaching plans, and writing obligations, into shape. I was hoping for more clear guidance from the government about circumstances for classes, but that seems more than a little silly these days. Today was more like the rest of the summer: run, chat with Pippa about RBG and valedictory wishes, Morning Office, hot breakfast, Mass, back home for faffing around, lunch, some course prep, dinner, and Under Suspicion, a film that was fine (if a little overwrought) until the last ‘twist’, which rendered the whole hundred minutes a waste of time. Thankfully, we had a good video call with Nate and Laura to redeem the annoyance of the cinematic flop.

Confined in a Window

David Weinberger used to emphasise the extent to which the internet (as it was) conveyed the sense of being a place. We should talk about that again some time — but the overwhelming feeling I get from what we’ve come to know as ‘social media’ involves the flattening of the spatiality of the Net.

This comes to mind because after my morning run, Morning Office, Mass for St Theodore of Canterbury, and a hurried hot breakfast, I spent the day in an all-day (on-and-off) Zoom meeting of the Sodality. There was much of value in the meetings, and it’s always a good thing to gather with colleagues in orders, but I experience protracted Zoom-based interaction as extremely uncomfortable, confining.

Between two of the sessions, Margaret and I made a dash to Pens Plus on the High, where the new (well, not new new, he’s been there about a year, but newer than the former proprietors) will give a couple of my pens a once-over. The new owner is positively genial, some what more affable and out-going than were the previous owners, and I may send a succession of pens through to him.

After the Sodality residential, we had an early-ish dinner and watched the concluding episodes of Watchmen, with an interval where we visited with Thomas, Si, and Laura. Thomas is great; Watchmen was quite excellent too, I thought.