Four editors at Wales Arts Review have mapped out their daily routines and wellbeing regimes, inspired by the examples sent by some of Hollywood’s most focussed and mindful stars.
Gary Raymond – Editor
My day begins at 4am every morning, when I’m awoken by the primal wails of my live-in personal trainer, Howie. (Howie’s position is not supported by the Art Council of Wales). Howie is also my cat. I pull on my skin-aeriolating joggers and slip on a shirt and cardigan over the t-shirt I wore to bed (this allows me to maintain a scented connection to my previous night’s embedded dreamscape), and go down to the food and drink preparation chamber where I carefully place 200-300 grains of dried instant coffee into a William Morris pattern mug. The origin of the i-dry (as we call it) is very important, and is all part of the enjoyment of the imbibing. (It’s whatever is available on Tesco clubcard any given week). I mix the i-dry with a similar weight ratio of white sweet cane extract and a splash of unfiltered cow dairy jous (we have been buying unfiltered since my wife told me the cat prefers it). I usually drink this standing in the half-light staring into space, taking in approximately 5-8 bpm. (This can get to anywhere as high as 30 bpm depending on whether or not I have a zoom meeting with a famous Welsh person that day). I sometimes match this with some lightly toasted bread touched by the black resonance of yeast extract. Sometimes it is the butter of the peanut, and sometimes I use conserve a la Paddington Bear.
I try and respond to emails before 7am. My email signature states that I work the hours that are convenient to my lifestyle choices, and that I don’t expect anyone to respond or action any kind of artsy stuff outside of their own lifestyle choice comfy hours time. I then evaluate my own mental health wellbeing by scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, exercising my thumb response times by swiping between the two platforms (my thumbs are not supported by the Arts Council of Wales).
After this, I usually shower, with water filtered through a vegan sprinkle unit of aeriolated dolphin-friendly plastic that I have recently had fitted with a tight packing of Lovehearts to encourage a sweet effervescent spray. I then undergo a grooming regime that sets me up for the rest of the day. This includes an IKEA towel dry, a liberal sweep of the cream of Bryl, and the application of some screen-resistant eyedrops, usually in the form of the collected tears of my editorial predecessors (I’m currently responding well to the Keidrych Rhys 100 which is available in all good chemists, arts centres, and independent bookshops, and is definitely not subsidised by the Arts Council of Wales).
We then have the Wales Arts Review editorial meeting, which used to happen every 3-9 months at the bar in the Murenger in Newport, but since Covid helped us restructure, we now hold via Zoom every morning and lasts the duration of Thought for Day. Here we hold a life-affirming bilingual silent meditation session where we reaffirm our ambitions, our passions, and our private and professional vendettas. If we have time at the end of these meetings we try and figure out what we’re going to publish in the coming weeks, months, and hours but if this happens it’s just gravy, really.
This takes me to mid-morning. As the editor and director of a national arts organisation in Wales, I am then compelled by law to dedicate 2-3 hours a day contemplating national identity. I do this while ritualistically eating pages from the collected works of Raymond Williams.
Lunch is often desiccated flakes of Scombridae Cordata in an emulsion of egg, mustard, vinegar and salt bookended by bleached flags of flour and salt and water and fast-action yeast. This is often accompanied by sugared fruit water. Whilst eating this I like to clear my mindboard by watching an episode of ER on All4, but some days are busier than others so you may find me only able to fit in a bit of BoJack Horseman.
As neither of these mindcleaners are in any way Welsh, I have to reboot my Cymric synapses in the early afternoon, so I have a rotation of virtual tours of the National Museum of Wales, the Datblygu back catalogue, and a showreel of Luke Evans’ Welsh Tourist Board adverts.
Every afternoon, I spend one hour in my sensory deprivation tank (which has the best WiFi signal in the house). Here I think about life, the universe, and everything in a non-linear temporal space. It’s also a good place to fart without eliciting judgement from others. I sometimes call it sleep yoga. (The SDT, the thoughts about life, the universe, and everything, or the farts, are not supported by the Arts Council of Wales).
At around 2pm I make a light refreshment of sugared tea water accompanied often by buttered oat discs adorned with a dried cocoa bean melt. By this point I usually have another attempted siege to my email inbox underway, and I resist with a flurry of replies that I dispense like a Vegas croupier. I then try to write for a few hours, resisting the powerful urge to go walking, hiking, swimming, cycling, bungee jumping, rowing, climbing, skiing, or running.
I normally fall asleep around this time, during which I invariably indulge in the age-old skin care regime of inadvertently sticking note paper to my cheek with my own saliva. I find this is a more assured and deeply cleansing technique than any of my previous skin care regimes, such as heavy drinking and sunray-avoidance.
It’s then time to feed my personal trainer.
After this, I indulge in a lavish dinner. (My wife is an excellent cook, but recently we have been trying recipes from the new Nigella book, which have included a fishfinger curry and roast chicken on a bed of ready salted crisps, so either my wife is having a breakdown, or Nigella is).
The evening is commonly dedicated to Druidic chanting, where I hope to gain favour with the Celtic overlords of Welsh arts through the power of atonal magic, in the hope that one day I will be invited to dine at the High Table in the sacred Halls of Cymru. I then flagellate myself bilingually before a candle-lit framed painting of offices of the Books Council of Wales in Aberystwyth and ask for forgiveness for the caricatures of Wales’s national arts CEOs that I drew, and encouraged to be drawn, in that morning’s zoom meeting. I then watch a couple more episodes of ER.
Before bed, I pay my daily Republic of Newport membership fee, the cost of which has quadrupled since I moved to Cardiff three years ago.
Caragh Medlicott – Senior Editor
I start every day with a rhythmic, tapping-based meditation that I like to call ‘centring your snooze button’. This gives me time to reflect on the shimmering life-thread which binds me with all creatures big and small. This is especially profound on bin day when I can viscerally connect with the squawks of the seagulls splitting the food bins outside.
Once up, I complete my yogic shamanic stamp exercise in the kitchen. This grounds me, releases any lingering resistance to wakefulness, and also serves in scaring off the mouse which sometimes finds its way in behind the fridge.
Usually, the next few hours pass blurrily; the room vibrating at an increasingly higher rate as I work my way through an entire eight-cup cafetiere of Peruvian bean-stew. I learned to move away from mainstream medicine when my doctor branded this a symptom of “chronic sleep deprivation and caffeine dependency”. Some people just wanna kill your vibe, man (or woman – I’m feministically fully-pro-anti-sexism… humanistically speaking).
At lunch I take a walk. If I’m lucky my earlier shamanic stamping will have summoned lots and lots of endless Welsh rain, the pavement outside newly mottled à la seagull with rotting carrot peel and the jade-blue remnants of decomposing spinach. Beautiful.
For food, I like to think culturally. Some days I gaze eastwards with noodles so authentic they are – self-declared – ‘super’. My go-to flavour is smoky BBQ. If I’m feeling patriotic, I’ll have carbohydrate slabs en blanc crowned with tomato-rich navy beans (freshly de-tinned), instead.
Often my workday extends far past 5pm, but this is fine because I totally reject boundaries and believe that eyestrain was made up by jealous opticians trying to stop the hustlers hustling. My critics say I’m merely a procrastinator, to which I counter: No, I’m a dreamer. Probably the only one.
I top the day off with a round of pizza cardio (ordering Dominos while still out and racing the driver back to my flat) and practice kundalini sofa moulding yoga until bedtime.
When the time comes, I change out of my daytime pyjamas and into my night-time pyjamas. I feel that it’s important to spend the last few minutes of consciousness in the divine presence, which is why I opt to bathe in the calming blue light of my Apple portal (a fun, harmless invention conjured by the kindly guru, Mr Jobs).
Once fully satiated on a binge of Twitter hot takes, I’ll spend anything from five to fifty minutes restlessly tossing in bed processing the anger of the aforementioned tweets (it’s good to challenge yourself, intellectually) before conceding to fleeting fits of well-earned slumber.
Bethan Hall – Assistant Editor
Each day begins with the same pattern. I wake an hour earlier than necessary, which provides a convenient opportunity to ponder the true meaning of the absurd dreams experienced throughout my slumber. I inevitably fall back asleep during this time and am later brought back to the land of the living by the earsplitting honk of my alarm. This works for me though, because the abrupt awakening grounds me in reality in an unbeatably efficient manner. By now, I am filled with such eagerness for editing that I need to pinch myself to make sure I’m not still dreaming.
After cleansing myself beneath a steaming cascade with sweetly-scented suds (for long enough to feel sufficiently spruced, but not so long I’ll be faced with abundant guilt for my over-indulgent water usage), I prepare myself a bowl of toasted whole grain oats served with lashings of liquid calcium. These torus-shaped treats not only provide me with essential vitamins and minerals, but also ensure that the day ahead is a cheery one.
Then comes the Wales Arts Review meeting. During this time, I listen to the thoughts of my noble superiors, smiling and nodding whilst they ramble on about their busy lives. It gives me time to think about what to make for dinner.
I then progress with simple proofreading tasks. Ironically, the most tedious and repetitive issues, such as an unnecessary surplus of spaces between words and sentences, can be the most enjoyable to fix. Delete. Scroll. Delete, delete, delete. Scroll. Delete… At this point, I often enter a Zen mode, a fugue state, and lose all concept of the outside world.
Midmorning, the forwarded emails (and forwarded responsibilities) flood in, and my once tranquil morning loses all sense of serenity. The publication schedule gradually changes, and more pressing articles take the position of high priority. I combat the trauma of having to amend my neatly colour-coordinated to-do list by practicing a twenty-minute session of transcendental meditation. This allows me to de-stress and calm myself whilst increasing brain function and creativity in advance of the impending hectic afternoon. Some people would call this procrastination, but I like to think of it as Peaceful Preparation for Peak Productivity (or PPPP).
It’s now nearly lunch time. Keeping my midday meal simple yet filling, I obtain nourishment in the form of coagulated milk protein encased in two toasted slices of Hovis. I am proud to say that I have perfected the ‘one hand on toastie, one hand on laptop’ technique. This technique ensures optimal work efficiency, helps to avoid the transfer of grease to my prized workstation and stands as a fitting image to symbolise my work-life balance. Look at me go! I allow myself one bite per paragraph of text.
As I continue with editorial tasks, the afternoon rolls into the evening. At night, with articles and reviews proofed, edited and ready to go, I like to take a short stroll to declutter my mind. I have found that walking clockwise around the block at precisely 3.8 miles per hour is the most effective method of achieving this, and helps me feel sufficiently refreshed to do it all again tomorrow.
Ben Glover – Managing Editor
6am: Get up. Carpe Diem. No need for a snooze button. Snooze buttons show a lack of self-discipline and weak-mindedness. After a short warm up routine, I get started on the first of three workouts of the day. The first workout is always weight-based and tailored to getting me in the right mindset for the rest of the day. The average weight for a fully grown adult Tyrannosaurus Rex is eleven metric tons and this is the combined weight I’ll lift in this session. Reps, bench presses, curls, it doesn’t matter, it all adds up to, what I call, ‘Lifting the Rex’. This is the first goal of the day. The playlist for this session is always Black Flag or the Rollins Band, and it is always loud. Can’t let any negative thoughts or emotions gnaw away at my mind’s inner peace/emptiness.
7:30am: Breakfast. This is always a combination of whey proteins and raw egg yolks. This food is fuel. Just fuel. Breakfast is often accompanied by the audio rendition of Ant Middleton’s stone cold classic The Fear Bubble or Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. Inspirational. There always needs to be background noise that I can focus on. Can’t let negative thoughts distract me. Also, I catch up with my socials – I only follow people that I’m better than, people that can’t Lift the Rex. Makes me feel better about the coming day.
8:30am: Shower and groom. Listen to Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws Of Power. These laws have become a mantra. Maybe listen to some Huey Lewis and the News too, if I need a moment of inspiration.
9am: Start work. Canis Canem Edit. This is what the training has been for. The world of the Welsh arts scene is utterly ruthless. It is ‘exert your status and dominate’ or ‘rollover, show your belly, and get stabbed in the back’. Meetings are the verbal equivalent of a gladiatorial battle to the death and any weakness will be ruthlessly exploited. Building a collaborative consensus is just a nice way of saying that you’re weak and the other person has already won.
12pm: Cardio workout. Normally this would be done in a gym (what’s the point of cardio if other people can’t see you doing it?), but thanks to the pandemic I now do a quick 10k around Newport. This is done to the soundtrack of Dutch hardcore gabba. That keeps the legs moving. Got to keep the mind focussed and not let those thoughts slip in.
2pm: Back to work. Dum spiro spero. What most people don’t realise that working for Wales Arts Review is like playing a national game of chess, with Wales as the board and the winner takes all. While the other editors are in their ivory towers, with their shamanic humming, worrying if their plastic is dolphin-friendly, and debating the meaning of the word ‘Intercontextuality’, I’m down on the ground in a street fight, scrapping and getting my knuckles scuffed.
5pm: Final workout. Vincit qui se vincit. This is a HIIT session and always calms me down. After a day strategizing and brawling, it’s good to work off the excess energy. The playlist for this workout is always a mix (my happy music) Robert Palmer, Genesis and Simply Red.
7pm: Dinner. Mainly red meat. Nothing fancy, just meat. Normally, I’ll eat this in front of the TV watching Bear Grylls or SAS: Are You Tough Enough?
9pm: Bedtime. Non ducor, duco. After another exhausting day in the arena, I go to bed tired, but satisfied. I put on Phil Collins and drift off, happy in the knowledge that those bad thoughts didn’t get to me for another day.
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