Friday, September 26, 2008

Shay moments

Barney, not knowing I've seen it before, has just forwarded to me the email that's been doing the rounds for a few years now about the disabled boy, Shay, and the baseball game incident.

We've had one or two little Shay moments of our own. Probably anyone with a disabled child has.

I always thought if I ever wrote a book I'd dedicate it to the lovely, elderly man in Linton who, years ago, took the trouble to come over to our table as I waited for Barney and four-year-old Buster to return from the toilets. The pub we were in, empty when we arrived, was by now heaving with blue rinse ladies trailing expensive scents and self-important attitudes, and I'd been feeling stressed about Buster in this company and the real possibility of a glass going flying or the table over-turning or sausage fat ending up on an alien tweed coat.
Anyway this gentleman came across. 'Do you mind me asking how old your little boy is?' he started, and then went on to detail quietly how much he'd enjoyed seeing Buster eating his meal (he's always eaten with gusto), how well-behaved he'd been and how the whole experience had 'made his day'. It was unfortunate that, recognising this as an unexpected act of kindness, I then found myself unable to speak for a few minutes and I hope he realised that what I really wanted to do, rather than just force out a choked 'thank you', was to kiss him.

It's not just adults tho'. I've probably mentioned before that Buster's Junior School teacher told us about him being allowed, in a one-off inter-school soccer match, to take a penalty. Normally Buster wouldn't even be invited to play football due to his slowness and lack of skill. Anyway, he took the penalty and when he scored, both sides - his schoolfriends and those who didn't know him from Adam - cheered. Aw.

There are probably lots of these tiny incidents happening every day. Lovely things that strangers do through an instinct to help or support or something. It's not linked to class or intelligence or age. It just is. And when you come across it, it's heartwarming.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Making a lot of feetmark, as my mum would've said

I think it would be true to say I make heavy weather of life. I make heavy weather of all its constituent parts (driving, say, or travelling on trains, going up stepladders, ringing people up, you name it...) and of life as a whole - sometimes you think: what for?

Just recently the buggeration factor has staged a take-over. I'm caught, it seems anyway - maybe I'm overstating (how would I know?) - in the middle of two or three arguments that are not at all of my making; they landed slap bang on top of me like poo from a pigeon. Homed in on me, even. Now is that fair or not? Not, I'd say. And buggeration on top of heavy weather is, well, y'know, a bit depressing.

There's stuff at work, there's stuff at Buster's home, there's stuff elsewhere. What am I? - Argument Central? Am I sending some subconscious cosmic message that I love a good scrap? I don't. I really must start checking out that meditation stuff. If ever a body was in need of a good meditate, it's me, now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Recovery Position

So, the situation is this:

For a while I've been thinking it odd that my new colleague was making small. unilateral decisions; that she'd appointed herself spokesperson in certain situations; that our admin assistant treated her slightly differently. But it was all stuff so little that I convinced myself that I was imagining it. You know what writers are like for imagining things? At the same time, I've been giving my all to the job, working in rubbish conditions and thinking that it'd all get sorted if I just hung on.

And then yesterday she told me that, although it was 'meant nothing really', she'd actually been appointed Team Manager! Last straw. Red rag. Cue one very angry email to management detailing my grievances. Did they really think I'd have spent so much of my own time on the job if I'd known? Did they think they'd acted professionally over this? On and on and on. Oh, it was proper shouty - capital letters, the lot.

Five minutes later, I got a reply email - no, it was all a mistake. There was no Team Manager's job, someone on management had made an honest mistake. A big, honest mistake.

So, now. Will there be one person in this situation who doesn't feel a fool? My colleague has been told she's the boss and therefore acting the part, and now she'll be told she's not. The management team just look incompetent. And me, well, I lost my temper over something that turned out to be wrong, so all that prima donna huffing and puffing was in vain. Oh, woe is all of us; Monday will be interesting as we try to rearrange ourselves and jiggle our way back to normality, each of us struggling to retain as much dignity as possible.

In another incident, tho', a newish student, one of the more civilised ones, after witnessing me fielding a lengthy verbal abuse situation earlier in the morning, asked to speak to me in the office.
'I know the students give you a hard time in this job,' he said, 'but I want you to know, I think you're really nice for doing it.'

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Oh, calamity

What are these scientists up to? Just re-creating the Big Bang so we can all disappear in a black hole of our own making, that's all! Madness. It's fine, of course, they're not really expecting that to happen. Well, there's only a very small chance...y'know, not enough to worry about.

I'm telling you this is a bad idea. Circumspection would be a very, very good thing here. Scientists aren't circumspect - they make bombs, and drugs that have devastating side effects, and stuff that causes pollution, and it'll all turn round and bite us on the bum one day.
We don't advance through science, we just create a different set of problems. Wipe out one devastating disease and you get another in its place. Like the police trying to stay one step ahead of the criminals, we try to get the better of nature - and we do for a brief moment - but then she hits us with something else because she's cleverer than us.

It's not knowledge we need, it's kindness.

Anyway, this experiment. Today one of the critics is quoted as saying that if it has the effect they fear then nothing will happen for four years and then stuff will start going catastrophically awry. So, let's see, four years - that'll be 2012. The very year that the ancient civilisations always said the world would end.

Rain-lashed Tod

Well, I had a great time on Friday morning sharing coffees and writing tales with a couple of lovely, local writers - Pat and Shirley. And yup, next time we'll make it to the pub. And we'll order some sunshine in advance...
Of course, in some ways I'm a fraud as I've written so little this year (a PGCE takes up about 98% of the week!) but I'm going to get back to it, really I am.
Pat, I'm enjoying Sunlight on Shadows - thanks very much. I particularly appreciated it in the station waiting room, when I'd arrived to find my train just disappearing down the track...your story offered a lovely way to while away a spare half-hour.