After the great freeze (by British standards) of last week, the weather has turned very mild. There’s now a scent of spring in the air. On the one hand, this makes the act of picketing much more bearable; on the other, this has somehow dampened my resolve. There is something to be said for having to brave the elements: it distracts from the absurdity of the situation at hand.
I have found myself overusing the word ‘absurd’ recently; still, it is the right one to describe much of what is going on. Thus, for instance, UUK (Universities UK, the body that represents our employers) announced on Monday afternoon that discussions with UCU (University and College Union) would be suspended until Wednesday afternoon, only to announce at around 8pm that same day on Twitter that it would meet with UCU ‘any time, any place’. I thought aliens had hacked the UUK Twitter account, but apparently not. Absurd, as I said.
One has to try and keep sane in the face of absurdity. I do this by finding beauty wherever I can. So today, after my stint on the pickets, I went for a walk through Cardiff and I ended in one of the city’s ‘secret’ jewels: the tiled corridor in Cardiff’s Old Library.
The building is no longer Cardiff’s main library, but hosts the tourist information centre and the lovely Cardiff Story museum. It is through the museum that you gain access to the tiled corridor (which is not always open unfortunately).
The tiled corridor does exactly what it says on the tin: it is a beautiful display of late Victorian tiles. They were bought from Maw & Co, and the most striking tiles in the corridor were designed by Walter Crane.
Crane (1845-1915) was a famous English member of the Arts & Crafts movement, who experienced with many different media. You will most probably be familiar with some of his work, even if you have never heard his name.
The Cardiff Old Library tiles designed by Crane represent Day and Night and the four seasons. All these are pictured, in a classicizing style, as female deities named in Latin: Aurora, Nox, Ver, Aestas, Autumnus, and Hiems. They are absolutely stunning. Here are the Four Seasons for your delight:
I spent ten minutes at least in the tile corridor entirely on my own. This peace was most welcome after the hubbub of pickets and rallies. I came out stronger in my resolve to strike for decent working conditions. I highly recommend a visit to the Old Library!