Certain words can define one’s life or the stages of that life.
“If things were a little more certain…”
This was in a text from my wife. She needs structure and certainty whereas I am not so in need of it.
At the moment, I am living for the moment, knowing that that may change. I am caught up in the instant and moving wherever that seems to be taking me. At the moment, I am here. And here seems much more certain than the certainty that structure creates. When I am asked about my plans for the weekend or plans for the future, I shrug my shoulders and say something like, “We’ll see what happens.” And that is now the truth. This is my truth. I am not planning for the future and I refute that not planning is planning to fail. We have Benjamin Franklin, the father of time management, to thank for that. On the point of Time Management, just what is it?
Time manages me and I roll with it.
Let’s have a look at planning. Just this morning, my little band of an English department had a minor civil war. Three of us, the new ones, have been rolling with what we have and getting great reviews from parents and students alike. Another one of our number has been here for donkey’s years (two) and knows the ropes. She is not a qualified teacher, but she has been teaching for many years. She comes in, goes into her classroom and closes her door, before re-opening it at the end of the day to go home. She is a proper teacher who is run off her feet. I think it is safe to say that the more established one feels one is, it is certain that one will not get carried away on the tide of “getting on with it”. Things just have to have been written down by somebody at some time during the pre-history of education. ‘Getting on with it’ is just breaking the rules and the rules are there for a reason: not to be broken!
I have met her type before. Meeting them is preceded with a fragile breaking of the face, an attempt at a smile, but the true gesture has long since been forgotten in that person’s muscle memory. She wants to stick with what they have always done, but the problem is that she has not really ever done anything apart from turning the pages of a text book in order to find new comprehensions to do. Her relative longevity is down to the fact that people tend to leave after a term, either of their own choosing, being hounded out, or having been suspected of some heinous crime that even the gossips dare not whisper. So far, it sounds so much like an ordinary state school; that’s where it ends. Here, there is no management to speak of. The school runs along of its own accord and, as long as nobody upsets the cart, that’s how it will continue.
There are teachers like me who come in and believe that they can graft all of what they have learnt, in the stifling atmosphere of English education, onto these different vessels, believing that the magic that has brought about rapid stagnation in Britain will miraculously alter the achievements of these few ex-pat children. It would be better to try trepanning or electric shock therapy; it doesn’t work. What you get is a few bright sparks who shine brightly for a short while and are then are snuffed out. This English department has seen more changes than a baby’s nappy. And there is something a little soiled about it all.
Certain? The only certainty is death and taxes and the fact that the next winner of the Eurovision Song Contest will be in possession of very little actual talent. But what is certain is the uncertainty that now welcomes me.
I don’t think that I am any longer mad.
That’s not certain, but it is a temporary affirmation brought about through the writing of this thing. I was forced into changing hotel accommodation yesterday which did bring back a shiver of anxiety. My stomach convulsed, I did not eat and I certainly did not sleep. That was a reminder that things are only as good as the situation allows. Nevertheless, it passed without incident. I moved hotels, had a beer, had some food and then slept. In between that, I spoke to my wife and kids. My youngest had just won a regional Spelling Bee in French and will be competing nationally at Cambridge. On a raft of fatherly pride, I was launched into the ocean of the night and reached land this morning.
My cycle to work brought me to a cafe which I have recently adopted as part of my own certainty, or tradition as I like to call it, and then onto school; that odd mixture of plaid skirts and short trousers, and a teacher, who is not a teacher, who believes that coursework is the work of Satan. Another certainty is that she will lock herself in her room as soon as she gets in, just to avoid speaking, smiling or letting others see her transmogrification into something nobody can be certain about. That’s the thing with people, all people, it takes an awful long time for one to become fairly certain about another.
To predict behaviours based on observed knowledge is an essential factor in forming friendships and relationships both at work and as part of social or family life. When they go off-piste, in a fashion that astounds and disappoints, it’s because we have not been reading them properly or that we are one of those stubborn individuals who still have faith in others. Why hasn’t anyone developed predictive text for human behaviour? It would be so much easier and probably much funnier.
People who live in glassware hoses should groan tomatoes. And that’s probably for curtains.