This week I spent four days at the school in Oxford. I worked with 11 different classes, and boy, was it hard work. Most of the kids are terrific, full of ideas and keen to get on and do stuff, but each class seems to contain a couple who are disengaged, and a handful who are easily led, and that’s it; the whole class becomes a nightmare. The two oldest classes I worked with were incredibly noisy, and I felt a complete failure for being unable to control them, although I was assured by the staff that it was because they didn’t have their usual teachers with them, and anyway, they are always like this on Thursdays (why Thursdays?). And the fact is that every single class produced some good poems – a group one from each class, and some individual pieces from the two older classes. Two things made it harder: the noise, which is ceaseless; and the travel. The whole school seems to be noisy, all the time. And because it’s quite a long way for me, the week was full of driving, work with the kids, prep in the evening, sleep, and then back on the road again. Still, I shouldn’t complain. They did produce great stuff, and I could be doing an ordinary job instead.
The other problem with this was that I got way behind with all my other work. I had expected to be able to do other things in the evenings, but it just wasn’t possible.
Ok, whinge over! There were some wonderful moments during the week, and these are the ones I have to remember.
On Thursday I had a play adjudication to do. It was a Terence Rattigan play; I’ve never seen one before, and it came out much better on stage than in the book.
Friday was a bit different. I spent a long time on the phone talking to an extremely helpful lady about my state pension. Aargh! I have to start thinking about my pension, and I don’t feel old enough. In the afternoon I was with my wonderful GP surgery patients, who just get better and better all the time. I filled in the census form when I got home. I know people who complain bitterly about the census form, but I can’t see the point; if it helps in future planning then why not? As someone in the Guardian said, perhaps it’s time for all those against the census to stand up and be counted…
In the evening there was another play to be seen. This time The Bloke came with me; he always has really helpful comments because he sees it all from a layman’s point of view.
On Saturday I mowed the back lawn. Now, regular readers will know about my troubles with mowers, but all has changed since I bought a brand new one two years ago. It has been sitting untouched in the garage since last September, and I was sure it wouldn’t start, but no – first time, brrm-brrm and it was off. Hooray! The Bloke fixed my hose and a kitchen drawer, and that was pretty well all we did – a really lazy day. Yesterday we went out to the Combe Mill, and went to see The Adjustment Bureau in the evening – not a bad film.
But now I’m paying for my weekend’s idleness. I have to work so, so hard to catch up on the time lost last week. It’ll be tough but not in the same way as last week. And it’s all so, so worthwhile.