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Evidence that soap dispensers can prove a threat to one's peace of mind and give rise to passive sentences
I know you're probably bored, and sitting there thinking, 'I've finished reading Dostoevsky. What next? Oh, I wonder if Fran has ever written anything on soap dispensers. I must go and look.'
So here's a section from Chapter 9 of my book 'Being Miss' in which Miss has an adventure with a soap dispenser during a 'free period' when she doesn't have a class.
In free periods, or
‘frees’ as they’re dubbed, all the school clocks speed up, their hands sweeping
round with spite to the next bell. It’s
bizarre, because during lessons in which children are uncooperative, you’re
hungry or you’re teaching possessive apostrophes, the clock hands stutter round
like aged relatives. Yes, time flies
when you’re having frees.
But, in those frees, while the clock hands speed up, everything else slows down. Computers take longer to let you log in. The ink in your red pen dries up so that you
have to go foraging in the back of a dusty cupboard for another one. The kettle warms up reluctantly, moaning and
holding back, like the fat boy on the Games field in winter.
One thing that never slows down is my bladder, especially if I’ve had
coffee for which I have a separate channel that runs straight down the middle
of my body, unlike my ‘tea’ channel which takes the normal, less perpendicular
I trudge over to the Staff Room
toilets. In there, a colleague is
staring in dismay at the soap dispenser which is making a noise like the
rutting deer I hear in the park. It’s
spewing out soap like my old cat used to be sick: a bit at a time with a slight
pause in between each output.
‘What’s happened?’ I ask.
‘I don’t know,’ she says. ‘All I did was put my hand underneath. It gave me the usual one big squirt, but when
I pulled my hand away, it just kept going.’
The puddle of soap is increasing,
like a pool of green slime, and we put a layer of paper towels on top of
it. It’s clear that this is only going
to be a temporary measure.
‘Maintenance ought to be told,’ she
says gloomily, drying her hands. Both of
us know she won’t ring Maintenance. I
make a mental note to use this nugget of linguistic interest in my next A2
English Language lesson: Consider the use of the passive voice in the sentence
‘Maintenance ought to be told’ and contrast with the active voice ‘I’ll go and
‘That machine is evil, anyway,’ I tell her. ‘I was in here the other day, dumped my
rucksack on the surface and went into the toilet. The sensor thought my bag was a pair of hands
and soaped it several times while I was in the cubicle. Took me ages to rinse it off and it still
frothed up in the rain on the way home.’
‘What have they installed these for,
anyway?’ she complains. ‘Give me a bar
of carbolic any day.’
‘Stains the sinks green.’
‘Yeah, but at least it’s quiet,’ she
says, and we both look at the demon dispenser, belching its contents out
without shame and still making the rutting noise. She leaves and I go into the cubicle,
checking my watch. I’m already fifteen minutes into my free.
This soap dispenser looks innocent enough, but then, so did Dr Jekyll
It's nearly a month since Christmas and I still have my pile of books and notebooks from friends and family on a chair by the sofa. I can't bring myself to put them all away. There's no reason why I should. No one's dared to move the pile so that they can sit sat on the chair for a while anyway. But these are lovely presents: novels, books of poetry, books about poetry, delicious notebooks .... what's not to like? I haven't always received such pleasing gifts. I was married in April 1982. At the end of that month, I turned 20. Yes, a young bride, and one who wasn't so delighted with her birthday present from her new husband. 'I've bought you an ironing board cover, too,' he said, looking pleased. 'It's the right size. I've checked.' And indeed he had. It was prettier than the plain blue one on this picture: flowery and cheerful. He had tried. Nevertheless, we had words. I was compassionate, don't worry. I was his first
My try-to-get-fitter walk in the fields today was a silent one. I usually listen to the radio through earphones but have lost one of the soft earbuds and nothing spoils a walk more than having hard plastic nudging up against your fragile tympanic membrane. The BBC's 'Woman's Hour' is a brilliant programme but loyalty has limits. It was disconcerting, walking in silence. Listening to radio distracts from the disturbing reality that my legs are propelling me in forward motion because, if I think too hard about this, I frighten myself. Today, while walking, I had to listen to my own thoughts. And now I've listened to my own thoughts, I remember why I like radio better. The inside of my head is like a wastepaper basket. Be grateful that I only offer you a brief excerpt. Oh, look, that bird is - / Where did I put that mark scheme. I'll need it for - / My shoes are getting muddier./ Maybe mash with the fish tonight / really muddy / The trees are definitely more
Ben Cottam (@TheCottam) posted this statement on Twitter today: 'When you're growing up, no one ever tells you how much of your adult life will be spent pushing tumbling Tupperware into cupboards.' I know, right? Why does no one say? And what else does no one tell you about adult life, particularly later adult life? I have made a list. 1. That one day you will say, 'They'll freeze, dressed like that,' and 'Let's go home. It's nearly 10pm,' and think nothing of it. 2. That a summer will come when you will start the days dressed in cardigan and socks and only take them off when it's warm enough to leave the kitchen door open. 3. That police officers, teachers and nurses, rather than getting older, get younger, birthday by birthday, and that one day you will be burgled and then visited by a seven year old with a notebook and a helmet. 4. That the music in pubs and clubs becomes louder, brasher and more sweary, year on year, so that