Scene 1 - Fran is encouraged in her role as respected local educator. 3.45pm
Fran: [getting off bus] Thanks, driver.
Driver: No problem. Have a nice evening! Off home?
Fran: No, actually, off to teach an after-school English revision class.
Driver: Oh, a teacher! Well done, you!
Fran: Aw, shucks [I didn't really say this, but America's on-topic right now].
Driver: Teachers need to be respected more, I say.
Fran: Absolutely! [steps off bus, feeling confident and self-assured).
Scene 2 - Fran finds she is unable to do up coat buttons. 3.46pm.
Fran: [thinks] Oh, better do up these coat buttons. It's cold. [Walks across car park near bus station, trying to do them up.] Hey, hang on. Is that right? [Tries to look down at coat buttons, but today's scarf is so big and voluminous, can't see properly.] Surely that's lop-sided. [It is.] I'll try again. Whoops! [trips - not looking where she's going.] Nope. That's not right either. [Coat hangs drunkenly.] I think I'll just leave it open. [Carries on walking, now wearing a scarf with enough material to soft-furnish a cruise ship and a coat flapping behind her in the wind.]
Scene 3 - Fran is identified as someone who can't dress herself properly. 3.47pm.
Lady outside shop: Excuse me.
Fran: [thinks, 'Oh, she probably realises I'm a respected teacher and wants advice on something.] Yes! Can I help? Do you have trouble paragraphing? Want to know about James Joyce? Perhaps your understanding of the possessive apostrophe needs improvement?
Lady outside shop: No, it's the belt on your coat. You're just about to leave it behind.
Fran: [looks down and behind to find coat belt trailing about a yard behind, like a pet snake.] Oh! Oh dear. Thank you. [Stops to rescue belt. Can't see past scarf to find belt loop. Struggles. Finally finds it, but belt now twisted. Gets fed up of providing slapstick entertainment for lady outside shop and walks on, swathed in material she can't control.]
Lady outside shop: [calls] No problem. [Thinks: I'm sure I've seen that woman sitting on a step outside Costa with a few carrier bags and a dying dog.]
Scene 4 - Fran is told she looks as though she lives a sad and lonely life. 3.48pm.
[In the charity shop on way to private lesson.]
Fran: I wondered whether you had a copy of 'The Kite Runner'.
Man in shop: Oh, hang on. We might. I'll have a look for you. [looks on shelf] No, not here. I'll look in the stock cupboard. [Goes to back of shop then returns] I'm really sorry, dear. I don't have that book. [Looks at me closely.] But I have an awful lot of copies of 'Fifty Shades of Grey' if you're interested.
Fran: Er, no, thanks.
Man in shop: Sure? They say it's good.
Fran: Quite sure, thank you. [Leaves, trying to hold head high and look like someone who gets plenty of excitement without needing recommendations from elderly men wearing sleeveless jumpers.]
So ... within 3 minutes today, I was transformed from optimistic, self-assured English teacher to a bag lady with her buttons done up wrong, a trailing belt, a mouthful of extraneous scarf, and giving the impression I have a need for titillating literature.
It was a long way back up to teaching some students how to construct a formal letter and select appropriately sophisticated language.
|Fran had said before that she found it hard to control all her material,|
but she'd meant her writing.