Once a year I manage it. I work hard the night before a lecture, typing up bits of text I want to focus on onto the Powerpoint slides, uploading pictures and links to break up the sound of my voice (a 90-minute lecture slot to 80 students) ... and then I leave the disk or memory stick at home. Today I didn't even download it from my computer. So there I was at 9.30, with nothing. Zip. Talk about self-sabotaging behaviour.
As I was preparing the slides last night I was thinking it was a bit wasteful of time to be typing up or uploading text when the students have the books. But since I don't really have notes any more when I lecture (on medieval literature, at least), I have come to depend on the slides as an aide-mémoire. But when you don't have notes or slides, it is certainly that much harder.
I thought about jumping on the bike and racing home, but it would have been a bit tight, and the wise Annemarie counselled me against it. So I sat in my office, found a link to an online Chaucer edition and a couple of manuscript pages I wanted to look at, and made myself a few notes.
It was ok. It wasn't great; it was a little short (for which I'm sure everyone was grateful). It wasn't brilliantly organised. But it was on the Wife of Bath's prologue, and while it shouldn't really surprise me that this should happen, I found myself more than once just mentally reeling at the genius of this poetry, the play of voices and textual traditions. One line jumped out at me today, in particular.
But — Lord Crist! — whan that it remembreth me
Upon my yowthe, and on my jolitee,
It tikleth me aboute myn herte roote.
Unto this day it dooth myn herte boote
That I have had my world as in my tyme.
But age, allas, that al wole envenyme,
Hath me biraft my beautee and my pith.
Lat go. Farewel! The devel go therwith!
The flour is goon; ther is no more to telle;
The bren, as I best kan, now moste I selle;
But yet to be right myrie wol I fonde.
Now wol I tellen of my fourthe housbonde.
It's that second-last line, with its determination to be merry — the willed nature of the emotion here, that leapt at me.
I was pretty tired the rest of the day: a couple of meetings with students, a Faculty meeting, a talk I had to give (how's this for irony?) on teaching practice, and then a seminar to go to on Coetzee's Disgrace.
But now I'm home. I have prawns marinating in ginger and garlic and dollops of all kinds of delicious sauces in the cupboard. I'm going to fire up the rice cooker in a minute and then sit down with Joel for a couple of episodes of Scrubs.
Hey, maybe one of the reasons I'm so tired is the single parenting I've been doing for five of the last seven weeks. J is no trouble, and helps with cooking, etc. but there's no doubt the household runs more smoothly when there are two adults in it. Just a couple more days and P is back.
(There's some weirdly ironic thing going on here about marriage and the Wife of Bath and P being away, but I'm too tired to untangle it.)