The Piper 9

SKOOLZOUT.

Read After Burnout

images-678If anything positive could have been said about the first half-term, then he thought that it ought to have been that the school had not burnt down.

There had been the incident on the first day, a curious affair before the kids had arrived at registration. He had been somewhat delayed with his PPT (Personal Pep Talk) given to him by his leading manager, head teacher and TTP (Total Toss Pot), Mark Bayliss who had singled his ageing history teacher out for a little positive correction. He wished to draw attention to the need for PMA (Positive Mental Attitudes) and had tried to suggest that this year the ageing teacher should take a back seat and let other younger, more dynamic individuals take up the strain. Bayliss liked to think of himself as an expert in these matters.

“Think about your retirement. You don’t want all the stress of leading…

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Do you have a Mushy Middle?

Is Feminism a dirty word?

Read After Burnout

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I am hoping that the answer to that is no. However, in the last few years I have discovered (along with the rise of the right) there is a less strident and more sloth-like  movement that favours the, well the ‘well’ person.

‘Well’ means that you haven’t really given it full consideration. You haven’t looked into a matter deep enough because it doesn’t fit in with your world view. Your world view is most probably that things happen and it is usually better not to involve oneself with those ‘things’. Things like feminism.

I heard an educated person (happens to be a woman) talking to another who also happened to be a woman. They were talking about ‘Feminism’. One of them had been asked by one of her students if she was a Feminist. She had replied with the opinion that she thought her opinion was personal. Later, when pursued…

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Do you have a Mushy Middle?

images-847

I am hoping that the answer to that is no. However, in the last few years I have discovered (along with the rise of the right) there is a less strident and more sloth-like  movement that favours the, well the ‘well’ person.

‘Well’ means that you haven’t really given it full consideration. You haven’t looked into a matter deep enough because it doesn’t fit in with your world view. Your world view is most probably that things happen and it is usually better not to involve oneself with those ‘things’. Things like feminism.

I heard an educated person (happens to be a woman) talking to another who also happened to be a woman. They were talking about ‘Feminism’. One of them had been asked by one of her students if she was a Feminist. She had replied with the opinion that she thought her opinion was personal. Later, when pursued on the matter, she had told the student that she wasn’t.

“I think it has gone too far,” she concluded.

I wanted to respond to their conversation but restrained myself.

Read, read and read again…

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‘England is sick, and…English literature must save it. The Churches have failed, and social remedies being slow, English literature now has a triple function: still, I suppose, to delight and instruct us, but also, above all, to save our souls and to heal the State.’ 

George Gordon  Professor of Literature  Oxford University 1922

During the course of my life, I have always believed that to be the case. If God could no longer save souls, then books should. In thinking this, I was not the originator of this idea. Since the nineteenth century, when the influence of the church began to wane, it became obvious that something had to step in to save the day. And it was with a certain biblical irony that books became the vehicle of choice.

Life is a route-planner.

We start our journeys at some particular time and place and finish them at another. Life is similar to a time-out from the general tedium of the omnipresent tedium of not living. But, whatever journey we are on, is never going to be an easy one. Life is best with things that beset life, namely life and death and suffering and the Conservative Party. Without these things, it is difficult to claim that one has ever lived, especially if one is already dead meaning that ones opinion no longer counts as only a very few can hear it. It’s a shame because I think that the dead are possibly in possession of more wisdom than the not dead. If you knew how you were going to die, a wise person would probably do something else on that day. Simple wisdom for simple thinkers.

I honestly don’t know where my route-planner has got to, these days. I think that I can remember having it when I set off. Indeed, I think I can remember setting a destination, somewhere like ‘Contentment’, ‘Peace of Mind’, or ‘Moderately Successful With a Beautiful Wife, Wonderful Children, and a Volvo Estate’. The last one always seemed to accompany the ones that went before.  The problem with these destinations is that they cannot be found on traditional maps. The route-planner just instructed me to point my car in any direction of my whim and then set off to see where I could get to before I died.

At the moment, I am here.

Here is an existential crisis. It is a place betwixt and between. A campsite in a town that one never planned to visit. Sounds good, but I have been here before.

Each and every year (not quite as we sometimes decide to ‘staycate’), my wife and I take the girls on a family holiday. The holiday usually involves packing up lots of things: bikes, tents, sleeping bags, phrase books, and a selection of real books to read when we are not doing the activity ‘thing’.  We do tend to have a destination, but go out of our way to not plan the trip. We regard the journey to our destination as being just as potentially enjoyable as the end product.

We aim to be relatively aimless and land on campsites that we have never visited before in a bid to be random adventurers. What does happen, always happens, is that we pitch-up in a place that slowly reveals itself to be familiar. We are like frogs that have a road map implanted in their DNA. No matter how much time has elapsed since their last journey, no matter how many generations have passed, they still take the same route; inexplicably. And so it is with us.

Ah, Ah! Those knowing human beings would say. Man is not a frog. Man is a work of divine creation. Man needs guidance in the way that mere Anura do not. It would not be proper for many of us to get ‘squished on Life’s highways’. Ah, Ah! I respond. I agree. But then I would point out that I was using the biblical device of hiding a lesson within a story.

And that is my point. Literature is scripture with a number of letter changes. From both, we find out what we need and ought to know about the touring holiday that we like to call Life. As God probably no longer exists, as we can’t be bothered with him/her, we need a new type of route-planner, one that is fit for our cultural needs.

Here are a few suggestions:

             These                       OR                  This

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Not being a saint.

Once more…

Read After Burnout

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I am studying The Kite Runner with A Level students and am finding it intellectually rewarding. I had read this novel a number of years ago and enjoyed it. In essence, it was a biblical narrative that dealt with sin and redemption. For one with a Jesus complex, this was manna from heaven. I remember reading it, enjoying it, but not alloting it any great status on the pantheon of significant writing.

I have since changed my judgement.

It is not, however, the redemption of Amir (the protagonist) which concerns me, but my own.

Let’s keep this clear right from the off that I have not committed any sin, unless pride and blindness can be counted. My fall from grace was determined by my traumatic burnout, the wildfire that burnt quickly and ravenously in order to wipe the previous landscape from my world. As with all wildfires, the charred earth…

View original post 339 more words

Not being a saint.

images-846

I am studying The Kite Runner with A Level students and am finding it intellectually rewarding. I had read this novel a number of years ago and enjoyed it. In essence, it was a biblical narrative that dealt with sin and redemption. For one with a Jesus complex, this was manna from heaven. I remember reading it, enjoying it, but not alloting it any great status on the pantheon of significant writing.

I have since changed my judgement.

It is not, however, the redemption of Amir (the protagonist) which concerns me, but my own.

Let’s keep this clear right from the off that I have not committed any sin, unless pride and blindness can be counted. My fall from grace was determined by my traumatic burnout, the wildfire that burnt quickly and ravenously in order to wipe the previous landscape from my world. As with all wildfires, the charred earth has begun to recover, regrow, repopulate. To an extent, I have been reborn but without the need to wear nappies or scream when I cannot articulate my needs. I have gone through purgation, purification and renovation.

It was biblical on a very personal level.

The drugs hazed me. I had visions (ish) and I made my vows to live a very different life. Along with rediscovering myself, I realised that the act of teaching was possibly a dangerous pastime. The system made for uncaring leaders and casually cruel students whose crimes of self-centred sadism could drive the Holy Ghost towards the Holy Spirit. Into this, I floated, forgiving one and all for their misguided intentions. I was a wet flannel of a man who understood and forgave. What a tosser!

In many ways the recovery from a breakdown can imitate the biblical structure of many a redemptive narrative:

Paradise.      Sin.      Suffering.    Redemption.     Rebirth.

Oh praise be me as I have been delivered from the kingdom of the damned. But, in being delivered, do I owe a debt of gratitude that can only be repaid through sainly empathy and even more divine acceptance?

The further away from the breakdown I get the more and more I find myself taking on some of my old habits of thought. I have a sometimes cruel wit which I share only with those nearest me. I find that it tickles my Lucifer Bone and makes the whole business of not being overly nice much more bearable. Indeed, the whole business of not having to have saintly understanding and empathy frees me to be that thing that I thought I had previously lost, myself.

So here I stand in the remains of a previous life, looking out to whatever is coming my way. I have no permanent work, no security, no faith that would tell me that everything will work itself out in the end. But I have suffered and survived.

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Not many saints get to say that.