She was awake for most of the night. I was next to her and sensed it even through my own sleep. I know her pain. Life has been throwing lemons at us again.
My wife’s job has suddenly got much, much harder. She loses sleep over the amount of work that she is expected to do. Then there is the thing with our middle daughter who has lofty ambitions to study history and archaeology at a good university. Perhaps the issue is not with her, but with her teacher who has just returned from two-weeks stress leave.
Obviously, she won’t tell anyone that that was the case, but there have been too many of us across the other side of the wire to be fooled with, ‘virus’.
The bottom line is that she needs to get good grades in order to study her good degree at a good university; and her Literature teacher has gone and down-graded her on a piece of coursework. I can see what has happened.
The fortnight off would not have mended things.
The unfortunate teacher has lost a number of her precious marbles. She thought that she could find them during the course of the year, but the more the year has travelled on, the more it has started to wear down the fabric of the marble bag she was carrying. As each month etched its name on the calendar, the more marbles she started losing.
It is important in teaching to maintain at least 20% of ones marbles. On second consideration-perhaps 10%. When I went, I had approximately two of my original marbles. At this point I will refrain from telling you how many of the original devils I had in the first place as this will provide a rather interesting ‘mathsy’ question for those so predisposed. Many would tell you that it wasn’t in the hundreds.
A lot of this goes back to my childhood when marbles represented jewels beyond the imaginations of men.
We had big ‘gloggies’ and little ‘gloggies’, giant ‘gloggies’ and medium ‘gloggies’. We also had ‘ballies’ (ballbearings to the uninitiated). All of life was taken up with the acquisition of more of these fine jewels through the medium of a dual; a single combat with winner takes all.
My ‘gloggy’ skills were rudimentary. I kept scraping my finger on the ground rather than making a clear contact. This usually resulted in me with many dirty fingers, some bruised and bleeding, and no gloggies. It was frequent for me to lose all my marbles in one glorious fight to the death. Once, my mum had to go across the road in order to ask a neighbourhood friend’s mum for them back. I felt no shame in this and any embarrassment that I may have had quickly dissolved as new tournaments were arranged.
Getting back to the teacher in question, I don’t believe that she ever played gloggies, so never really acquired or lost any. She does, however, according to my daughter and her friend, dance with a tambourine. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that she suddenly decided to downgrade my daughter’s piece of coursework. Perhaps the tambourine induces thoughts that are otherworldly and completely disconnected with the everyday business of what we call the ‘real world’. I may be wrong, but don’t Sufis do sort of the same thing?
Again, the trauma inflicted upon me as a child distracts me from my purpose. I was wanting to talk about my daughter’s Literature teacher and the need to re-grade. I know the woman, I worked with her in another life. She is not a bad teacher. She is conscientious and knowledgeable. Perhaps she comes from the nineteenth century female writers’ fan-base and perhaps I definitely don’t.
Everything is up for grabs with Literature.
It’s not so much a subject as a personal massage. We see what we see in literature and hope that not many others see the same thing; otherwise it is a trite and clichéd rehashing of old ideas. The other front would have it that there is an established route into certain books and that to fail to follow that set path denies any hope of understanding. Jane Austin and the Brontes have their fanzines. As does Christina Rossetti. I once worked with a head of English who could not stand Rossetti. He thought that she was overly morbid and should have tried going out a little bit more. Enjoy life, darling. You only get the one. But nineteenth century female writers have a fervent female following that will stand and fight their ground in any discussion. Fine, they are good, but not for me.
And stop the bloody swooning. It wears a little thin when you’re nudging into your fifties and still wearing Fleetwood Mac hand-me-downs. And get rid of the tambourine, you’ll not only hurt yourself but others as well. Stop closing your eyes when your favourite tracks come on, especially if you’re driving.
It is my belief that my daughter’s Literature teacher has played one game of gloggies too many.
They have all been lost to the kids on her street and the street has become mean so there is no chance of ever getting them back again. From here on in it will be a marble-free future. I just hope that she, or somebody else, will take another look at her grade.