Thank God It's Friday

17th December 2004 at 00:00
Monday How would I cope with bell-free days, no classes of teenagers, no staffroom buzz? Easily, I thought in July, with projects beckoning as I retired. I was wrong. It's tough. I'm adrift. I'm missing the zaniness of kids, the camaraderie of the team, singing hymns in chapel. I'm even missing staff meetings. Togged up in a new mac for outdoor living, I walk three miles along the seafront in a squall, find a cafe and dawdle home. I haven't dawdled since I was a child.

Tuesday In the morning I meet a friend who teaches part-time in another school. She's frustrated by her exam factory and wants time to do her sculpting. She looks at me quizzically when I say I don't yet like this freedom thing much. We walk along the seafront. Good job it's not summer or the deckchair attendant would think I fancied him. In the afternoon I start my structured sessions, a writing class based on Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way. Great people in the group, terrific facilitator. I get homework. Yes!

Wednesday At physio yesterday, I was asked to state my occupation, and I put writer. But today I hardly have the energy to get out of bed. That's not going to get War and Peace II done, is it? My daughter has an interview for a job she wants badly. She's excited and nervous. Can I feel like that again? Right now I have nothing to prepare for. After a life spent like a magpie, collecting bright and shiny ideas from everything I saw, read, thought and heard to channel into the classroom, I don't know what to do with myself now.

Thursday I meet a woman who works at the Brighton eco-friendly coffin centre. She was a midwife, but now works with another rite of passage. I have a hunch about this but don't know what yet. Is it about turning things right around? I pray for a new direction.

Friday It's 5am; I have been writing for more than an hour already. Even my sleep pattern has changed. Before, I used my energy for work, then slept the sleep of the just, or at least the zonked. How can I enjoy a Friday when I haven't had a working week? Forty years ago this week I met my husband. We've spent our lives snatching time together, usually working in separate towns. Now we're clinging to the same life raft, waiting for a new wind to blow.

Liz Fincham retired this year as head of English at St Mary's Hall, Brighton and Hove

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