I am here to report on the most luxurious of days, a day when I was tethered to the house – grounded if you will – in order to greet the arrival of a lovely man scheduled to fit a new hob. It is the least that I can do for the lovely friends who have allowed me to house sit – especially because, since they foolishly left me with the keys to their castle, I have been helping myself to their impressive alcohol stash.
So, although I can report that I had the most luxurious day, I do not want to over-sell this blog entry; I state from the outset that there is really nothing to report. Nothing going on. Walk away if, unlike me, you have a packed schedule to cram in.
According to the oracle AKA my mother, I am a restless soul – someone who is unable to sit still for long and consequently quite unrelaxing to be around. It will no doubt shock her to learn that I found myself grateful to stay in one place under this house curfew; I even welcomed watching the four hour window on Hob Man’s tracking link delay, expand and then crash and burn; Mr Hob was delayed with all his earlier appointments and apparently much more demanding customers than your’s truly. My confinement gave me a perfect excuse to potter, hang my washing out, do some admin – oh and sit in the sunshine with my book. I reasoned to myself that it would be pointless mowing the grass because then I might miss the door bell. Metaphorically, my appointment with Mr Hob allowed me to put more pressing concerns on the back-burner (well, once it was fixed, obviously).
In truth, this four hour window could have landed at any point during the day, and it was a lottery to know whether ‘my’ slot would be morning or afternoon – in the event, it morphed into early evening. Bliss. I should also point out that we are talking about a Saturday – I do not want you reporting me to the Education Secretary – she needs no further excuse to flip her bird.
If guilt sets in later, I will argue that I do have something to show for my day for I did get up at the crack of sparrow to squeeze in a run. It will sound virtuous, but in my opinion there is nothing finer than running when no-one else is about, when you know it is going to be a beautiful hot day, and when you can feel really smug that you have exercised before the rest of the world has even drawn their curtains back- and earlier than Mr Hob Man could possibly land on my doorstep.
I had heard that a pride of 25 life-sized bronze lions has appeared on The Downs, placed there by the Born Free charity, and this added incentive to factor in a detour. The pride proved to be less colourful – but much more classy – than the Wallace & Gromit trail I have ‘done’ in days of yore. It also allowed me a crafty breather as I stop to admire the craftsmanship and to feel slightly miffed that it is too early for the regular ice cream van to appear. I am joined by a father who had dragged his son out of bed to show him this spectacle. The son is unimpressed. ‘It’s boring dad. Let’s go and get breakfast like you promised; you can’t even get an ice cream around here’.
I am so rarely bored that it did not cross my mind that this ‘go slow’ day might eventually become boring. Odd, because this has been a week when I have been surrounded by students telling me how boring life is. This in itself is ironic because it has been Activities Week in our school and the timetable has been collapsed so that different year groups can jettison off on the sort of residential and day trip that necessitate a coach driver and packed lunch, or alternatively stay closer to home and negotiate a climbing wall or breakout room (packed lunch optional). My colleagues pulled out all the stops to launch our first Activities Week in years – leaving their own families and dodging the return of Covid to lead trips and come up with crowd pleasers like ‘The Potato Olympics’ and egg throwing. (Who knew? I can not wait to host my next party – perhaps I should have invited friends around while I was waiting for Hob Man).
Personally, I was not asked to run anything as exciting as an activity. No, the leadership team were mostly left on site tasked with checking that we could account for students around the campus and generally keep them motivated and engaged in this Ministry of Fun . Let me just say that we broke previous step count records during this week and we now know the site very, very well. The students on ‘Base Camp’ thought that they would combat ‘boredom’ by switching groups on a whim and flaunting the very relaxed dress code. Next year I will see if we can use Hob Man’s tracking device to pin down such subversion. Anyway, doing daily break time duties allowed me plenty of opportunity to catch up with students to find out how their activities had gone earlier in the week.
‘Really boring, to be honest Miss’.
I argue that I would have loved to take part in a coastal walk, a beach trip, a boat tour even, and shared that I have always wanted to go to Thorpe Park and The Big Pit.
“You would have been bored Miss, you are better off patrolling crop tops and litter-picking.’
‘What was the food like?’
I can hardly wait to be reunited with this particular group of students on Monday morning when we buckle up for two more weeks of poetry before term ends. I bite my tongue, but still hear my dad’s voice saying, ‘Only boring people are bored. Find something to do.’ Mind you, dad wasn’t parenting post-Covid in the Era of Candy Crush. ‘They won’t miss me from my group, Miss. It’s boring what they’re doing. Let me just sit quietly in your office until break and beat my last score. I promise that you won’t know I am here.’
When we were in Wave 1 of Covid and students were still working from home, I believed that when school reopened, the Youth would spring back on site, delighted to be in the presence of a live teacher again and grateful to take part in any sort of physical activity. Then again, I also believed that Covid would mean students would no longer need reminding to wash their hands;I found a group of Year 10’s having a picnic on the floor of the girls’ toilets last week. I realise that the honeymoon is over.
The return of the Year 11 and 13 prom over the last few weeks had given us false hope, leading me to believe that we were back up and running. The students in both years made up for two years of lost social opportunity and excelled both in their couture and their dancing – I love a lilac lounge suit (go that young man) and a joyful year group conga from the dance floor back to the coaches at the end of the night. If only those two year groups had been invited to our Activities Week …thinking about it, they would probably not have made it in, some exuberant teacher dancing bears testament to these events being the love child of Glastonbury – our own mini super-spreaders – wiping out some of my colleagues who had been looking forward to their first Activities Week for a long time but soon blighted by a double black line and a nasty return of Covid. Turns out, it really is murder on the dance floor.
Returning to my back yard, when Mr Hob eventually arrives – evening slot – ready to fit the offending hob, I think he is expecting Mrs Angry because he is technically very, very late. I guess he is also expecting someone who has been greatly inconvenienced by the broken cooker over the last few weeks. I find myself feeling a little ashamed (and a little tiddly) for I have cooked nothing since I began this house sit. I throw him by asking about his day – offering him a drink from my landlady’s stash – and sympathising about the traffic and working in such hot weather. I thank him for my staycation and for keeping the cooker economy afloat.
He looks bemused. He fits the hob in record time – I have no idea what this record might be, but I think he could get a job at Kwik Fit if he ever fancies a career change. I have never seen a man exit a property so quickly – well, I have, but that’s a blog for another time. Nothing more going on here. Back to the garden with a drink.
Busy day ahead at school tomorrow; we will need to crack down on boredom before the Summer holiday begins. We don’t want to see a pandemic of inertia – I haven’t got time for that.