It being our wedding anniversary – since you ask, thirty five years – well, quite: not even time off for good behaviour – anyway, in view of the day, we’d decided to use the voucher for afternoon tea given to me on my last birthday by our lovely friends, the Vestibules.
We’d booked to have the tea in one of the London hotels with a view to then doing something afterwards; a play or whatever. The hotel was on the edge of Hyde Park and the menu outside promised tea with sandwiches, cakes and ‘warm home-made scones’.
“One Roast-Chicken-Dinner-For-One,” says Mrs Jones.
“One Roast Chicken-Dinner-For-One,” says Clark-from-Sainsbury’s-telephone-ordering-service.
“Eight bananas,” says Mrs Jones. “As green as possible.”
Elizabeth popped up in my dreams last night; just as Hale and Hearty, Stuff and Nonsense as she was the week I started teaching in the adjoining classroom at Thrush Woods. Middle Infants – me, and she had Tops. We bonded a couple of days into my first week, when a passing ‘what are you doing with your lot this afternoon?’ revealed a shared love of Schools’ Television.
Pick us, Miss, pick us! Look how neatly we have lidded our marker pens! And see our flip-chart of ideas – a thing of beauty, too, in many colours, to which we all contributed collaboratively, working as a team…
Apart, that is, for the cow who teaches at – well, you know the one. Her anyway. Didn’t want to come on the course in the first place. Thought ‘Schemas in the Under Sevens’ was going to be about curriculum plans and not fannying around with a load of bricks. The only thing that’s stopping her playing with a mobile phone is that they’ve not yet been invented. We’d be better off teaching six year olds to name parts of speech, according to her. What a dinosaur!
“The thing is, before I retired, I used to rush around on a Sunday trying to get everything done. But I’m finding now that I say ‘I’ll do this, that and the other tomorrow’ and do something else instead. Then whatever it was never gets done. Do you find that?”
It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that babies are a lot more fun when you’ve had a night’s sleep.
I’m yawning here just at the thought of those hours spent rocking the buggy, singing “my old man’s a dustman” to the tune of “girl from Ipanema.” Driving round the block in the early hours, hoping in vain that there won’t be cries as soon as the engine’s turned off. Arriving at work on autopilot only to discover that not only is YoungLochinvar still in his child seat (forgotten to drop him off at Ma’s) but also that, in the early morning rush, I’ve failed to shut the front door (concerned neighbour, police visit). How does anyone survive early parenthood? Nightmare.
“It’s Mrs Jellywoman, isn’t it?”
I am at the gym (thanks for all the helpful hints – so far, so good), face to face with a jolly woman, probably in her mid-sixties. Though she might be ninety-eight but really, really benefiting from regular work-outs. She does look familiar but I can’t quite place her. I’m vaguely thinking Jacob’s nan; Jacob, whose suggestion for a word containing the ‘ee’ sound was “weed – like what you smoke.” Maybe, maybe not…
I wasn’t put to the piano as a child. Refused the offer of lessons, apparently: as good a reason as any to invent time travel. But I’d really like to be able to play and, to quote Bro-In-Law – a man of infinite resource and sagacity – when someone asked him why he’d just taken up learning Gypsy Jazz Guitar, “I decided not to wait until I was younger.”
I did sort of start learning about twenty years ago but, what with teaching full-time and having two children, practice never seemed to reach the top of the To-Do list. So the enterprise was shelved, pending retirement. Which is Now.
We are discussing a comprehension paper on ‘Discoveries’, Class Six and I. One of the Gentleman Scientists discussed (and they are all gentleman, alas) was Alexander Graham Bell. I happen to know everything about the telephone, having read a couple of paragraphs on the subject once in a Bill Bryson book. So I share with the class my favourite fact, namely that, until Alexander’s friend Mr Watson invented the telephone bell some years later, the only way to know if someone was telephoning you was to pick up the receiver and check if they were on the other end.
One of the lassies frowns and raises her hand. “Even if it didn’t ring, you’d know someone was calling because the phone would vibrate,” she suggests. There is general agreement, swiftly followed by mild astonishment when I explained that the original phone neither rung nor vibrated. I didn’t break it to them that it didn’t take photos either: humankind cannot bear very much reality.
Concert tickets bought on a whim – cheapest available – from a street vendor dressed in C18th garb (think Amadeus) – are never going to be the best seats in the house. Before setting off in our glad rags, however, I do check online to discover with some relief that the opera house does indeed exist, that we have paid the going price and, moreover, the concert is almost a sell- out. Continue reading →