Thank God it's Friday

3rd November 2000 at 00:00
Monday Half-term and I'm off to visit friends for some Ramp;R in sunny Swanage. Though with their three children, plus my one, it's hard to imagine what rest I'll get. My friends, an IrishBasque couple, lure me into a light-headed state with sangria. We sing to the Pogues and argue until late in the night. I lie awake worrying about the references I have to write and my PhD in education that's lain dormant for months.

Tuesday I sip coffee and gaze at Swanage Bay, the blue waters sparkling, and people happily being English, digging holes and playing with the water. Not for the likes of us, though. My friends emerge at lunchtime, like vampires; they refuse to set foot on a beach until sunset. We talk about teaching methods, our children and their teaching methods, and reach once again for the sangria bottle.

Wednesday Travelling home, I hear two dramatic artists talking loudly of their success and I wonder if I'm in the right job. Ah, yes! Romeo, Romeo, Romeo I drink to thee... or I would if could afford the rail company's wine at pound;3.10 a glass. As I get closer to home I realise that I have to do some preparation with a colleague the next day and worry that I'm using my computer desk drawer for my underwear. What if he notices the black and shinies poking through?

Thursday When asked "How much have you done?" I hedge, feeling guilty about the sangria fest. I struggle through an afternoon, my head and heart resistant to work and we decide to meet later that week. I lie in bed wondering if there will be enough time to organise the new information for the forthcoming inspection and wake up in a hot sweat, feeling the need to do something positive. I check my email. Why is it that checking your email makes you feel you've done something?

Friday I wander through deserted corridors feeling rebellious, having not arrived until lunchtime. I look at my work email. Nothing, which gives me a popularity crisis, so I check my pigeonhole. Nothing but a reminder slip from the library. I overhear that a senior colleague is seriously ill. I think of the sacrifices, the studying, the hours, and I think of myself and the futility. Well, not quite. Like Mr Chips, I can already see and hear many of the students I've taught lined up in front of me. The time and trouble suddenly seem worth it. I return home, grab a glass of wine and thank God - and not just because it's Friday.

Amanda Maitland lectures at the University of East London


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