Sunday, 26 July 2009

Last Thursday Revisited

Bo’s enviable relaxed day last Thursday made me reflect on my own experience of the same day. He got the better deal, I reckon.

Thursday 23 July 2009.

I’m awake at three forty-five as usual, groggy of mind and heavy of body, feeling as if I were pressed to the bed by centrifugal force. By four forty-five a sense of urgency is beginning to stir, a need to be up and getting on with things. This is very irritating because athough the feeling is real, the fact is that my train doesn’t leave until five past eight and I live precisely seven minutes walk from the station. There is absolutely no need to rise three hours before I leave the house. Nevertheless I am up and preparing a great big cafetiere of powerful black coffee by five fifteen. This I take back to bed and absorb it whilst doing the rounds of the blogs on my blogroll and half listening to Farming Today on radio four, possibly the world’s least interesting programme.

By six, my neighbour is also up. I know this because we live in a jerry-built eighties building with thin walls, and I can hear the bugger pissing. It is a source of unending exasperation and wonder to me just how often and how copiously this man can slash; every twenty minutes and he’s staling like a shire horse. If only, pace Pastor Steven L. Anderson (q.v.) he could be prevailed upon to do it sitting down, it wouldn’t put me off my Weetabix. I don’t have the effrontery necessary to ask him to do this, though.

As I am getting dressed after the shower, Thought for the Day comes on the radio. ‘We all know about that terrible thing that happened last week. But if people thought more like Jesus, it wouldn’t have. Thank you very much.’ If changes are proposed to this regular slot, such as allowing humanists to deliver a little homily now and then, or better still, scrapping it altogether, listeners have a fit. Out there beyond my unopened curtains, thousands of people are sipping their tea and nodding gravely through this three minutes of platitudinous tripe. Very depressing.

I go to the bathroom looking for high protection-factor sunscreen. You cannot stop the ageing process, but neither need you aid and abet it. I haven’t got my glasses on and so pick up the wrong can and squirt minty green shaving gel between my eyes.

On the train I read an improving book, the content of which I will have forgotten by the time I get to the university.

On the last course I had a delightful, talkative group of students who got on with each other like the proverbial house on fire. My present lot are subdued. We are not helped by the room we have been allocated, which could accommodate a ballroom dancing championship. If you are seated at one end of the horseshoe arrangement of desks you need a walkie-talkie to communicate with the person at the other end. Material that my last lot took and gleefully ran with now divebombs. They go through it with all the joyful enthusiasm of civil servants rubber stamping invoices, so I put the session out of its misery five minutes early.

‘Excuse me, sir?’ This is the new Chinese boy. I have already asked the new Indian ladies to call me Steve, not ‘sir’, as I dislike this sort of deference. Now I discover that from a cute male twink, it fairly turns me on. He shows me the rambling introduction to his essay. Here we go... I once spilled a bowlful of beaten egg all over the kitchen worktop, and when someone shows me their work in progress for my comments, I am reminded of the tedium of mopping up that sloppy, viscous, shapeless mass.

Afternoon class. Same room, but livelier students. In groups they have prepared Dragon’s Den style pitches. The presentations vary from one unspeakably dull one that actually fails to mention the product once, to a hilarious one that begins with a song and dance routine led by Annie the Taiwanese livewire, who is a delight to have around.

My afternoon sessions are planned around making a quick getaway. You can forget anything that requires me to return mounds of dictionaries, or CD players or laptops to various offices around the building. There’s only one train each hour and I want the earliest I can dive onto.

At home there is another book and CD from Amazon waiting to be unwrapped. Much as I love opening these, I really must stop ordering them, as there isn’t room for many more books, either in my flat or in my head. I shower off the dust and crash onto the bed in front of the computer again. It will all be much the same tomorrow, and the day after, and the month after. It’s a depressing thought, making me nostalgic for Greece, where just about everyone I know still lives.

It won’t be soon – not this year and probably not next – but I will be jacking this in eventually. I don’t want this routine until I retire.


Bo said...

Oh God, that doesn't sound much fun. Are you an insomniac? My problem is I sleep too much, not too little.

And I owe you an apology: I must have come across as insufferably smug in my piece, but heigh ho.

'Sir' from a cute twink does indeed make the day go with a filip!

vilges suola said...

Not an insomniac exactly, just a light sleeper. In summer when it's light so early I can't lie in.

No,I didn't think you were being smug. You did point out that it was not a typical day - or were you just taking pity on us? ;-)

Fionnchú said...

What "terrible thing happened last week"? The Jesus comforter doesn't give me much to go on here. I actually like Weetabix heated. And, I can relate having sometimes to prepare to dash away from class to catch the twice-hourly bus that connects with the train to one transfer and then the next one, the need to travel light-- in 100-degree weather nowadays. (I confess to taking the car sometimes; pale skin demands it.)

I guess my day's spent more like yours, AS, amidst polyglot, addled, half-clueless urban but not urbane students; it's also spent wishing it was more like Bo's Cantabrigian idyll. Where I teach, probably like neither of you, we men must wear ties and slacks (no denim, no sneakers, no casual wear), and we are addressed as "professor." Not that I feel much like one compared to the tenured, sabbaticaled, and claret-downing ranks, however! Hope you get some more sleep, that's for sure, and get back to Hellas soon.

vilges suola said...

No shortage of terrible things - abductions, murders, bombings. They can always come up with something.

What IS it about ties that some institutions are so errr - hung up on them as symbols of respectability? I don't wear a tie or even possess one, and would refuse to comply if they ever decreed that ties must be worn. Not that they will, or the entire male staff would walk out.

These days I am a 'lecturer' and my lessons are 'lectures', or 'leckerchers', as the Arab speakers have it. They are nothing like lectures as I think of them. I might try adopting the style of a lecturer I had at Cambridge in nineteen seventy-splunge,and see where it gets me: 'and I put it to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the present perfect is by far the most appropriate verb form in the circumstance with which we are presently concerned, and that although a case might conceivably be advanced for the simple past, this need not here detain us...'

Bo said...

I wear an open shirt, suit jacket and jeans, m'self, amd am addressed as 'Mark', or 'Dr Williams' if they want me to sign something.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

this is a routine that many greeks strive for, in their own country of course and not in another.

sometimes, there is just too much chaos in our lives here most of the time - seriously speaking, we sometimes crave for a bit of order about us.

admittedly, kalokairaki in greece has none of the traits you describe above

vilges suola said...

Να βρούμε την ισορροπία!


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