I think it might have something to do with all the Enid Blyton books I read about boarding schools when I was a kid, such as 'The Twins at St Clare's' and 'Upper Fourth at Malory Towers'. Life in our house wasn't short of chaos (think 'Eastenders' and double it), and I found all the stories about those daily routines like prep at 6 and breakfast at 8.30 and French with Mademoiselle at 10 really appealing.
Then, in my early 20s, I went into hospital to have my first child (yes, hospitals were invented then, although I seem to remember giving birth under the influence of ether and a bash on the head with a mallet). And I realised just how much I loved being in hospital. I'd dilly-dally for ages over the menus, thrilled to be asked to plan what I wanted for the next day's breakfast, lunch and tea. I revelled in the routines of lights out, the tea trolley, the medicine round and the doctors' visits. And I remember being so disappointed after my week there to be sent home. Now THAT'S how you can tell how long ago this was - a whole week in hospital for a first baby! These days they hope that mums give birth in the taxi on the way there so that they can just cut the cord, then turn the taxi round and send them home again. Anyway, I sobbed and sobbed when I got home, much to the disappointment of my poor husband who had cooked me roast pork and apple sauce and thought I'd be pleased to see him. All I really wanted, though, was a bowl of cold custard and a nurse asking to check my blood pressure.
I've been to see my Gran in hospital today. As nurses shuffled backwards and forwards through the ward, and as the ladies with the tea rattled past, it was all I could do not to rip off my clothes, demand to be given one of those gowns which don't tie up at the back, and shout, 'Admit me! Admit me! Then bring me the menu!' before leaping into a spare bed and pulling the covers up around my neck.
All this institution-love is probably what makes me the kind of teacher who wants all the kids sitting bolt upright, having underlined their title twice with a ruler, and reciting names of descriptive techniques in a monotone. It's not exactly Malory Towers, but I'm doing my best to live the dream.
|Fran was trying her best to read quietly, but the lady under the blankets whose bed it was|
was being really annoying and wouldn't keep the noise down.