Tuesday in Blackburn

This afternoon I’m going to Blackburn [digitally, alas] to give a talk on Mark’s Gospel (the gospel for Year B, apart from all the Sundays John elbows in) for a clergy teaching day. That circumstance engenders in me a rueful recollection of taking the bus to the train, the train to Blackburn (change at Birmingham New, of course), seeing old friends and meeting new, doing my teaching in actual physical space. Reviewing my notes on the train, which almost always improves these presentations. Getting out of Oxford for a few hours. Having an Egg mayo sandwich from M&S for lunch, unless they have the falafel wrap.

The government seems disposed to allow us in-person teaching next term; I’ll probably have the jab by then, which will be good, though I’m a bit restlessly impatient. It’s sixth week; well more than halfway through Hilary Term, more indeed than halfway through the academic year (and my Trinity is scheduled to be much less ardduous than the past two terms).

I’ve run for about two weeks in a row; I last skipped a day on a Saturday, I think, during the frigid snap, then ran every day in the cold, and every day last week when the weather was more clement.

Looking Backward

Before so much of the data bearing on site visits, links in and out, analytics, and so on were locked away from curious civilians and reserved to Facebook and various advertising companies, I would peruse my referrer logs from time to time, and learn of new friends taking interest in what I wrote, or discover that a Big Dog in the blogging world had noticed or denounced me, and which of my older posts had a lasting afterlife — that sort of thing.

Nowadays most of that information is protected, and for good enough reasons I suppose. I can see a few bits and bobs of links, but nowhere near the same hearty broth of unanticipated linkage that I remember and miss. I can see when old posts get attention; The Plural of Impetus is a long-time favourite of web searchers, and Weren’t No Kin got a visit yesterday. The dedicated, generous host of The Text This Week, Jenee Woodard, links to sermons of mine. Some of my tangles with the Episcopal Church, and more recently the Church of England, drew visits (though these hold little lasting interest). The transcript of Don Novello’s monologue (as Guido Sarducci) on UFOs has proved useful to some searchers.

I appreciate the importance of online privacy, but I miss more informative referrer logs.

Saturday of Fifth

I’ve been running daily, conducting my classes, tutorials, and meetings (all on Zoom) (not running on Zoom, I mean, but the rest of my work), and it entirely wipes me out. My eye is twitchy, the one that was clubbed when I was fag-bashed in high school, and my right foot has sundry aches and pains. But I’m still here, haven’t caught anything, I’m a week closer to the end of term, and although lockdown is starting to get to me, I’m hanging on.

Pancake Day of Fifth

The weather has warmed, and I’ve been running my full distance. Teaching has resumed, though this is the last week of teaching for assessed Common Awards classes here at St Stephen’s House; on the other hand, my share in Oriel teaching kicks into gear for the next four weeks. Days are getting noticeably longer. Our turn for the jab is still a distance off, though there seem to have been hiccoughs in the distribution of vaccination, so that some people have received the jab before they were apparently due to.

Much to do, and still locked down.

Another Frosty Day

-4° again this morning, so I took a short run. The muscles over my cheekbones — especially the left side, the side of my face that was smashed when I was beaten up in secondary school — are twitchy, which I ordinarily associate with weariness and stress. This morning, though, begins three days free from fuss and bother, so I’m not sure what’s going on there. Whatever the cause, it’s half term, I’m going to take things easy, and that’s that.

Half Term

St Stephen’s House observes a long weekend between Fourth and Fifth Weeks, with no college obligations from Thursday to Tuesday. I have a tutorial today, and a rescheduled staff meeting, but as of this afternoon I will be caught up and I will run no risk of falling behind again for a few days.
It’s still subzero (-2° this morning), but I took the longer run anyway, because I’m a creature of habit.

Ice Station Xford

Down to -4° this morning, making this (I think) the longest consistently cold stretch I remember in our winters here. Yes, I’ve lived in Maine and Chicago and Connecticut, where 25° is no big deal, but I’ve also lived in Florida where it would have been near to the end of the world. The UK doesn’t experience many days a year below 0°, and after 11+ years here I’m no longer as hardy as I would havea been straight out of Chicago. (I once told some UK students about the December in Evanston where the temperature only peeked over 0° for a few hours one day, and the uncomprehending horror in their eyes lives on vividly in my memory.)

Back to One

So, I did run this morning, though it’s -2°. I intended just to run my mile, taking a short cut to avoid some less-travelled pavements, but I felt good enough and the pavements seemed clear enough that I went for the whole mile-and-a-half. (I know this is nowt to you real runners out there, but it’s just fine for me.)


I ran yesterday morning at 0°, but this morning it’s -2° and the pavements are crusted with occasionally-slippery frozen precipitation, and I am not so crazy as to risk falling, so it’s back to a new streak tomorrow (assuming).

It’s He-e-ere

The weekend, I mean. I have work to do, but since I can’t get done as much work effectively during the week as the regular term requires, I will spend part of my Saturday and Sunday on business. Naetheless, the pace and feeling-tone of the weekend are different, innit, and hardly anything is strictly timetabled, and both of those are welcome. And usually no Zoom meetings (though I had a Sodality meeting this morning, but that’s not so onerous, and it’s good to hear from my sisters and brothers).
Plus, I ran this morning, for the seventh day in a streak. I will have to break this streak again someday, but not this soon.


And pandemanxiety. I’ve just felt entirely stretched thin over the past weeks — my various basic responsibilities have taken all the concentration and determination I can muster. At any given moment, I feel as though I might just plop down and fall sleep on the spot.

Not so much while I’m running, though, which I did this morning for the sixth day in a row.