It has now been four terms of teaching away from home and living in the back of a van to make it all possible. I’m saving the planet one sleep at a time.
A reader contacts me, from Australia no less; she is perplexed that I refuse to put up with a 90 minute commute to work and a 90 minute commute home, day after day. For a moment I question these life decisions and ask what would Dundee do? The crocodile king?
My reader admits, overall, she spends three hours a day on the run to and fro. Stopping, starting, stopping, starting in heavy city traffic. If I did likewise perhaps I would encounter less of the rancid winter cold that bites and festers even though the van has a thermal lining.
I wonder at my own foolishness.
How dare I!
The Australian is a hardy soul. Happy to choke up the air with engine fumes. Perhaps she could learn something from Dundee herself. Perhaps Australia wouldn’t be ablaze with more Dundee thinkers out there. I imagine there are, but no one’s listening.
I delete my reply happy that my lonely sleeps mean I’m not choking up this green and pleasant.
It’s a new term and I add up the number of nights I have been away since I started this adventure.
It’s a lot.
A little less than 240 with some quick arithmetic and accounting for paternity leave and the odd sicky tum-tum.
Some further arithmetic and I realise it will have been an entire year’s worth of working weeks away from home.
In the gym I get talking with a member of the senior team. He’s been reading the blog. He tells me it’s “Quite funny”. A five star review if ever I heard one. But how will I feel at the end of this year after my arithmetical epiphany? Will it still be funny?
Where do I draw the line between mental health, practicality and super climate powers?
My first week back and my first early wake up call comes from a knock on the window. I’ve been parking outside of a friend’s bakery and at a little before 7 in the morning he invites me in for a cappucino from his frothy coffee machine. We’re six or seven years into our friendship now and I have a special key to the bakery facilities, which, sadly, excludes pastry treats. This is actually a good thing when I look back at my blog this time last year.
Twelve months ago I was oh so keen to lose some weight so I can’t let my past self down. Did Scrooge or Marty McFly teach us nothing?
After a quick Christmas and New Year catch up, me sipping away, while he plunges into diced suede and potato, mixing the special mix with a dash of this and that, weighing, measuring, cursing and gossiping and asking after my ever-so-fresh out-of-the-packaging baby daughter, I leap into the drivers seat and speed away. The new Head pulls up next to me and I do my best bustle into school just in case he’s watching.
The following day I welcome my year 7 class with a quick quiz. A refresher. What did we learn last term?
They title their quiz papers with team names because we are old school and proud.
They take more time choosing their team names than planned for and hilarity ensues when one child titles his team “dushbag”.
Ah, les petits enfants. Les petits choux.
Les enfants ignorants.
I lean back in my chair and enjoy the brief journey back to the nineties when “douchebags” were aplenty and everything was “effort”, when Beck unwittingly provided an anthem for the slacker generation: Soy un perdedor.
For a time I was probably a douchebag too.
I am gladdened that the word ‘douchebag’ is still out there, even if it only exists in its phonetic form, desperately clinging to life and lost relevance.
The week ends with a quiet high.
Since the last term we’ve had to shuffle a few classes and I now have the pleasure of two Year 11 groups. My head is well and truly on the GCSE block. But, even so, an email is forwarded. A disappointed mother and a disappointed pupil no longer on my timetable. The words ‘devastated’ and “such a positive influence” are used.
The week ends with a blush and a pint.
Christmas is something that happened to someone else and I remember it in the same way I remember dreams.