When I was a child, my father’s consolational relish in the maelstrom of exam season was collecting ‘howlers’. I remember that our laughter was sometimes a rather ungenerous superciliousness about the plebbish children’s musical ignorance. We were pedantic both lexically and musically. But there was also a lovely warm merriment sometimes, akin to reading really good nonsense poetry, a kind of celebration.
I marked this sentence last week: “When Mr. Janice entered the living in his room the Janice was not smelling broadly”. Isn’t that wonderfully evocative? Makes you wonder if T.S. Eliot actually nicked many of his best lines from a teacher friend. It’s also prophetic- because B is away this week, I have not really “entered the living in” my new house either. Unfortunately, I AM indubitably “smelling broadly”, especially after cycling home from school at the hottest part of the day.
I also marked the following poem:
If I go away
You- the world-
Let it mourn to be sky
To stop breeding
For all dying
And never find the way back,
Never find the way back.
This extraordinary offering physically knocked me back in my chair in the staffroom, I was so surprised. (It isn’t a good idea to make any sudden moves on the staffroom chairs, both because all the ‘squares’ are rhombuses, giving a seated teacher the look of a bo’sun in a Force 6, and because they must be preserved, so that the most agile child available can continue to use them as a ladder to climb into the lab over the top of the staffroom wall each period (no, the key never turned up). I fear my parentheses are taking over: I’m going to have to start subsectioning my digressions at this rate.) I handed back the books with interest, looking for a moody, disturbed young person to collect this poem, but no: it’s the sunniest, cuddliest, dimpliest girl in the class.
School continues to be grinding, poignant, mundane and worthwhile in pretty much equal measures. I carry a bit more frustration, a lot more names and a complete set of waterproofing with me this week: Thomas drawled with his slow grin when he saw me set off the other day, “You walk wid da loooooong boots today, Miss Searah”. And like teachers all over the world, I'm very, very thrilled that it's Friday!