The thing that kept me awake last night was not just being awake, but not looking forward to having to be awake.
Wednesday was fast approaching and I did not want it to. We are not winter people so our bed becomes our refuge. Sleep increases relative to the decrease in light. To us, it makes sense. To others, it is a mystifying waste of valuable hours. Our neighbour and occasional cycling partner doesn’t sleep. Well he does sleep, but not as we know it. I think he goes to bed around one or two in the morning, rises just before six and goes to work. That is Margaret Thatcher or Dracula stuff. Okay, so you get to see more life. At that hour in the bloody morning, unless you are a burglar, a taxi driver or a bat, who cares? I would rather be tucked up in bed, sleeping soundly for another hour or so, sleeping, deep sleeping, recharging from the previous day and escaping before the onset of a new one. Sleep is good. Sleep is God.
I struggled with sleep again last night. Today I had a telephone interview with a journalist from The Teacher. The Teacher is the official magazine belonging to the National Union of Teachers. Since my epic wobble and fall, I have taken to reading it when it arrives once a month in the post. I read the adverts at the back first. Teachers hiring out their holiday places in Greece, France or Spain. I read the adverts for the sale of tuition centres, private tuition, or ‘GIVEN UP TEACHING? PUT YOUR SKILLS TO GOOD USE!’ announcements. Life is so bloody simple, it’s a wonder how I ever fell off.
Anyway, before I digress beyond the point of sane return, I was about to tell you about the reason that I probably struggled with returning to sleep in the shallows of this morning. The main reason was that I was to be interviewed by a journalist from the said magazine. They were interested in my blog/book. My wife saw this as an opportunity to tell the world of teaching all about my issues with mental issues. I found myself agreeing with her before I stopped to measure the timbre of her voice. Yes, it would be a little strange to want to do such a thing, but I am a little strange.
I spoke to this journalist who listened to me as I rambled around in search of answers to questions such as my life in teaching, who was to blame, and what advice would I give to others in my situation? I had a prolonged rant against academies, MATs, and educational wisdom (or lack of it) and then found myself feeling a little empty. I had offloaded and it wasn’t to the indifference of a computer screen or the dwindling readership of my blog. I had told another human being, somebody on the other end of the phone, somebody who was going to write about me and my writing. I had erupted with the molten anger of the last couple of years and I felt that I ought to be carrying a brand, aflame and aloft.
There were times in the interview when I felt that the words were failing me. There were moments when the newly raked memories pricked my eyes. There was an instant when I had to wonder why I had written the bloody thing in the first place, but then I remembered; I did it because I wanted to get better and writing is a good listener and an excellent solver of the unsolvable. Yes, writing has helped me. I’m still here.
Now, the next step is for this journalist to pitch her idea for an article to the editor. She wants me to provide a picture or two that sum up my blog. I need to have a photograph that they can use. I am not convinced that this will happen.
Up to now, life has taught me not to expect good fortune. I live in Narnia where it is always winter but never Christmas. My hopes are still cold in their beds and yet I continue. Why? I know that if I don’t then that will be the end of me. I will not write again and I will not dream. I may not be so hopeless as I would have myself believe.
I am at another desk again. It is my history teacher’s desk and I am attempting to carry off this as best that I can. The younger kids don’t see through it, but I suspect that the older ones do. My life moves in cycles. Even on a touring holiday in Europe, I find that we stop at the same campsites without having any intention to do so. Perhaps it is my liking of habit that brings me back to things that I know. Perhaps it is just cosmic chance or meddling fate. I do not know.
I am back at 1066 and I am with Harold’s Anglo-Saxons. I am back at junior school with Mrs Bramley, the forever animal-lover, and I am sitting, marvelling at the tremendous bad luck the recent king had on that fateful day, October 14th 1066. What a place to catch an arrow!
He was winning. He had beaten the Norwegians and had marched south only for dastardly French to invade the southern coast. He would have been tired. His men would have been exhausted. He was onto a loser before he had started and he almost pulled off a famous victory. Almost is not good enough. His body ended up in a hundred trophy boxes and his men lay where they fell; food for the crows.
He lost, just as a hundred other English teams had lost, bravely, disadvantaged, and desperate.