Quiet round here these days. I'm only teaching ten hours a week and although money is tighter than I have ever known it, and I've known tight, I'm still perversely pleased that for the rest of the month I only need to get up early to drag my arse to Leicester twice a week. Instead of dominating my life, teaching is for now a minor blip in 158 hours of pleasing myself. I sleep like a baby five nights a week instead of merely dozing, as I do when I'm working the following day. However, the inactivity is dulling my brain.
On Wednesday I entered the classroom and as always I smiled and said 'good morning', was as always ignored, and as always muttered 'suit yourselves' as I arranged my stuff on the desk. There was a sound like a string of firecrackers going off as the students extracted papers from ring binders and began to pass them along the horseshoe formation of desks. 'Homework' someone mutters, handing a sheaf to me. I suppose I should have been pleased that everyone had done it and done it on time, but actually I felt worried as I have absolutely no recollection of having set it. It'll come back to me, I thought. Two days later, it still hasn't.
I'm rather inattentive lately. I decided to make an omelette for breakfast this morning, and while waiting for the oil to heat and the toast to pop up I made a second cafetiere of coffee. Ah, it's like having five Saturday mornings a week, I thought, tipping the remains of the first cafetiere into a mug. But a curse of multi-tasking, for it was the same mug in which I had just beaten the eggs. I didn't fancy omelette au café so I slung them out and started again. I feel vaguely guilty about the waste now times are rather thin, but only vaguely. My Dad's mother, known to us as Nana, would have filed the eggs away in the fridge and made a coffee cake or something later on. Given the sugar, flour, butter and gas required for a cake, it might indeed have been more economical just to pitch the eggs, but that would not have occurred to her: Nana had known hard times as a kid in the period after WWI and was anti food-waste to a degree that bordered on pathological. Once, as a kid, I decided to make blackberry jam, despite being very hazy as to how to proceed. I burnt the lot, writing off the pan and to Nana's profound grief, a two-pound bag of sugar with it. 'All that sugar!!!' she keened, as if mourning the lost potential of a bright kid struck down in youth. The blackberries were from the hedgerows, and since money had not been spent on them, their loss was more bearable. In N.F. Simpson's insane 1959 play One-Way Pendulum*, the Groomkirby family employs a Mrs Gantry to come in on a daily basis to eat up their left-overs. The absurdity of this would have gone straight over Nana's head, and she would probably have thought it a rather sensible arrangement. She once rescued a pack of rancid butter that my mother was about to chuck. Several days later she announced proudly 'I managed to eat it for you!' as though she had performed a real service.
Well, as is apparent from the preceding paragraphs, I have bugger all to say, so I expect posts will be few and far between until later in the summer when I hope things pick up and there will be more language-mangling and cultural train-wrecks to report on.
* In One-Way Pendulum, the Groomkirbys' lounge is slowly transformed into a courtroom in which the Groomkirbys' socially inept son, Kirby, is on trial for multiple murder. Mabel Groomkirby is being questioned as to why she had though prior to his birth that her son might have been black.
JUDGE (intervening) Is your husband a coloured man, Mrs Groomkirby?
MABEL He's an insurance agent, sir.
JUDGE Yes, but is he coloured?
MABEL Well, no sir. Not so far as I know.
JUDGE What I'm trying to get from you, Mrs Groomkirby, is the simple fact of your husband's racial characteristics. Does he, for instance, have any negro blood?
MABEL Well - he has got one or two bottles up in his room, but he doesn't tell me what's in them.