It's Tuesday. Marylebone or polite poetry?

15th February 2008 at 00:00
This is a tale of two Tuesdays. January 29 was a day of three-thirds. The morning was spent packing equipment for a CPD event that would run later in the week. Among the wireless accelerometers and spectroscopy modules were six small tubs of Pringles, a consequence of a serendipitous discovery that they were suitable for studying the forces in a collision.

A late lunch at Edinburgh Airport preceded an EasyJet flight to London for a radiation protection conference the next day. Check-in was disappointing. Numerous fly-on-the-wall documentaries had led me to believe that I would be entertained by at least one passenger arguing with staff as he attempted to take a weasel on board. I consoled myself with a cafe latte, hoping there was nobody from the west of Scotland who knew me to witness this.

By evening I was in Marylebone, having dinner and a rare old blether with a colleague before we went our separate ways to Travelodge rooms barely larger than those Japanese hotel pods the size of a mortuary drawer.

Contrast this jet-setting lifestyle with the previous week, when I was invited by a former colleague to read poems at his school's Burns Supper.

This involved travelling to Airdrie, so I went in my Kia (I am reliably told that, in Australia, the brand is advertised using a succinct slogan: "The car that cares!") rather than an Airbus.

Former colleague is an English teacher and it was his extra-curricular S1-2 reading group, The Bookies, who were staging the event. He met me at the main door just as the bell was ringing and led me to hame eekies where the supper would be held.

"Hi, sir!" I heard this friendly greeting numerous times as we made our way to the haggis and neeps. A year ago, in another place, it might have been me on the receiving end of a similar salutation, though curiously, in my last school, "sir" and "miss" were never used by pupils.

Did I miss this familiarity with the pupils? I did a little, though not as much as I'd miss doing what I do now, should I go back to teaching.

Gregor Steele is developing a grandparent attitude to school pupils - great to see them, great to hand them back at the end of the day.

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