Don's diary

October 22, 1999


Programme three of the BBC television series on the Royal College of Art went out last night. Emails and faxes, exchanges with staff who saw themselves in the background and wished they'd been in the foreground and vice versa.

A quick sandwich, followed by my annual lectures, given twice, to 400 new postgraduate students on the history since 1837 of the college community they have joined.

Then straight to "rector's reception" for the class of 1999 in the senior common room. One design student tells me she went through three years of undergraduate study without knowing what her principal looked like.


Can't get into my office at 8.15am because of a new entry phone, which punctuates the day with strange burping sounds.

After planning and resources committee and the health and safety committee, a session with the researcher preparing videos for the Millennium Dome "Faith Zone", to record a guide-track for a film that will cover 2,000 years of Christian art in three minutes.

Back to the senior common room for launch of my new book, Art and Design: One Hundred Years at the Royal College of Art. Professors and tutors scrabble through a display copy, pretending to be interested in the bits that are not about them.


Breakfast meeting. Then, after correspondence, to a meeting of the Arts and Humanities Research Board. Gratifying, after all these years, to be discussing schemes for both text-based and practice-based projects: I detest both phrases but can't think of happier ones.


Interview panel for a new professor of graphic design (one good candidate: fingers crossed). Lunch with Cliff Hatts, ex-student who was chief designer of the BBC responsible for Quatermass and the Pit, to discuss new MA course on screen design.

Then to the Victoria and Albert Museum for the royal opening of its big historical exhibition, "A Grand Design", for which RCA staff and students have designed the final gallery. Prince Philip observes that "student work now goes straight to the museum rather than via the high street". Back to the RCA for meetings, then record a piece about Tarzan and the "noble savage" for radio's Talking Pictures. Following television programme four, five phone calls: four pro, one baffled.


Chair a committee to decide on a new design for the Book of Common Prayer, in the Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster Abbey - where the Authorised Version was originally authorised. Strong sense of posterity. My lips are sealed about the result.

Back at the college, find a cutting from Private Eye's "St Albion Parish News" page in which the RCA is called "St Albion's Primary School". Then to the real No 10 Downing Street for a "Millennium Lecture" on the future of the arts and culture. The lecture is all about digital technology and multiculturalism, it has snazzy computer graphics, and it does not mention education once.

is rector of the Royal College of Art.

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