I am paid by the hour and cannot afford to be ill. I had a 'flu jab on Saturday morning, so as to be safe this year from anything other than Bird Flu. A week off could cost me six hundred pounds. How nice, though, sometimes, to enjoy ill-health: some brief, trivial but incapacitating illness would beat teaching, just occasionally. To stay in bed of a dark, wet morning with a big mug of tea and read - one could bear the discomfort of fever cheerfully. I mean, how many more times do you want to discuss food with lower intermediates as I did today:
'Turkey food is wery deliss-use, with madge fresh frewit and wedge-tables, and good for our healty.'
Heard that one before, more than once. Dozens of times, in fact. We got onto booze.
'I drean a loddoff alcohol'' said Luis (Ecuador)
'How much?' I ask, sensing a kindred spirit.
'A loddoff. Two bierce a day.'
'Two bierce a day?' says Cecilia (Ecuador) incredulously. 'Jew drean two bierce a day???
Two beers a day hardly registers on my scale. I would feel deprived on such a regime. I keep quiet. I also keep quiet, with more difficulty, when my Algerian students, who are lovely, have a good snigger at the idea of lesbian and gay civil partnerships.
It is not the students' fault, obviously. It's just that ELT can so often feel like a recurring dream, the same conversations, the same prejudices cropping up over and over.
How about this for an intro to lesson #1? 'Right, before any one of you raises any of these issues:
- Dogs are intelligent animals and they only bite if they are raised by arseholes.
- I'm unmarried 'cos I'm a pouf. I like blokes, but probably not you, so relax.
- I drink like a fish.
- I'm English but I'm a pretty good cook.
- I believe consenting adults should enjoy guilt-free sex with any number of partners and in any combination of sexes, so long as I only get the men.
- I know Allah will provide milk, honey and wine in the next world, but why wait? I can get all that from Sainsbury's tonight.