I’m back at the chalk face this week – well actually, back at the interactive white board and struggling to remember how to use it seamlessly without asking for help from a student – but anyway, a new term has started.
It never ceases to amaze me how September seems to take us all by surprise, even if we don’t teach. After all, adverts from Asda and M&S have helpfully been showcasing the range of school uniform available on/in any good high street/shopping multiplex, since July: ‘Shop our non-iron back to school range,’ for example, before the summer term has even finished and before The Youth has even started their summer growth spurt or realised a burning need for stationery. Not helpful. Parents must also have ignored the ads, for the September headlines already seem to be trending along the lines of ’80 students denied lessons because of school uniform breach’ or ‘black canvas shoes banned in London school; students picket school perimeter and get blisters.’ It was ever thus.
And so September creaks into action and by next week, we will all have full calendars and have moth-balled our summer shorts and lie-ins. ‘Sorry Marg, I won’t be at Book Club – the Atwood and Anchovies theme is tempting, but I’ve just enrolled on a 6 week adult learning course: ‘Defeating Procrastination’ and feel I should at least attend the first session, oh, and Alexa has just reminded me that she is not happy that I am dropping ‘Macrame for the Hapless’ this autumn.’
I actually love this rude awakening in September. It always takes me a week to hit ‘flow’ and then I am happy to channel my inner (and older) Sandra Bullock as she takes the wheel in ‘Speed’. This week I fret for two INSET days about whether I will ever hit full throttle again (off the road I mean, not in a driving awareness sense, Officer) and then reflect on a first week when I have met five new classes, taught a new yoga class (the irony of the theme being ‘self nurture’), attended two boot camps, one running club session and squeezed in a trip to the theatre and a half marathon. Super woman I am not, but I do love a fresh start.
It turns out that my new students are ace. As someone who struggles with names, I inwardly bless parents who have christened students with names that I can learn and pronounce. I’m still reeling from September 1995 when I met the Leigh family – Obvious, Saw and Absolute. This year, I am thrilled to have a boy in one class who tells me that his quirky claim to fame (I like to attach a quirk to a name, it helps my menopausal fog) is that he can roll his whole school tie into his mouth. Naturally we have to see this,and reader, he can. Good job kipper ties are currently out of fashion (unless you tell me otherwise).
I am buzzing.
I will just pause writing for a second to reflect back on my mother ripping up Shirley Conran’s book ‘Superwoman’ in 1975. To be fair she had endured a particularly rough week with the four of us and there wasn’t a great deal of multi-tasking going on in the kitchen. I vaguely remember the top of her new food processor flying off, and that the iron ‘setting fire to itself’ was the straw that broke the book spine. Mum ignored Shirley, embraced Delia Smith and was only furtively reunited with Shirl in 1982 when she published ‘Lace’ (Shirley published it, not my mum – Methodist circles would not have stood for this). If only M&S had launched their non-iron uniform range earlier, September could have been much calmer in my childhood household.
Naturally I may not feel quite as buzzy about September as the days get shorter. In my new hyperactive fashion, along with my return to full time work, exercise and culture, I have been able to have a quick power nap on the beach this weekend, and again, can thoroughly recommend it as a post-half marathon warm down and an ideal opportunity for eves dropping. You lie on your rug in rose-gold September sun with your eyes closed and it is like wearing Harry’s invisibility cloak; people just don’t seem to realise you are still there. This weekend I’ve shamelessly earwigged on conversations along topics such as:
- rich people should not be allowed to teach (no get out clause here for me)
- Children should have more control of their bladders: ‘Tabitha, why when we passed the public toilets did you decline my offer to stop, yet now refuse to wee into a rock pool?’
- How divorce should not take place – even if ‘love don’t live here any more’ – if it means the loss of a dream second home in France. (Discuss please).
- ‘Menopause in Progress’ signs should be available to put on bedroom/office/kitchen doors (I am already speaking to my agent about this and I am in talks – well questions, lots of them – with/to Alexa – to see if she can be more menopause-friendly).
I sense it is time to come off the beach when I hear a woman of my age (steady) in a tirade to her husband, ‘ I don’t want to sit down, please don’t treat me like an old lady, I’ll sit down when I want to sit down and I’ll sit down where I like. In fact, I’ll sit down here and you can go and get me a Whippy 99”. I feel this lady may not be enjoying September as much as I am. Perhaps I should sidle over and discuss some new terms and conditions? Nah, bad idea and I am quite busy, after all.
I will keep my invisibility cloak on and leave my Wonder Woman cape under wraps. Anyway, I forgot to mention that I am not contracted to emerge as Super Woman until October. It is all in the small print.