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Reasons why Fran Googles 'Discount Botox deals' on a regular basis
I wrote this article for the Times Educational Supplement in 2010. I wasn't quite fifty then. My, my, it resonates even more now. Teaching is the elixir of youth? Pass the cocoa ...
They say being a teacher keeps you young, and to someone pushing 50 who says, "Gosh, is that policeman old enough to be out alone?" this could be fantastic news. If only they didn't just mean inner youthfulness. I could do with outer help; the anti-wrinkle creams and the "give-you-a-fake-waist" vests don't do the job they used to.
I will be interested to see just how young teaching can keep us when we don't get our pensions until we hit 96. There comes a point, surely, when no matter how many teenagers you meet each day, if you can't hear them, see them or remember their names, the benefits of being kept young at heart are limited.
Still, I'm seeing a money-spinner here, and you can peruse my new website www.resourcesforelderlyeducators.co.uk to pre-order a handy whiteboard pen bag which can hang from your Zimmer frame. I've also designed a range of securely lidded coffee mugs emblazoned: "I may tremble, but, boy, can I still teach". Bound to be a top seller, too, are my smart suits, made in association with Damart from cosy, striped dressing-gown material. They go well with the new "of-course-they're-not-slippers" range of fur-trimmed shoes.
But is it true? Will teaching really keep me young? Or will exposure to teenagers merely, by juxtaposition, emphasise how old and fusty I'm getting?
When I'm persuading students to notice how words are juxtaposed and why, I use a practical illustration. I ask for a very short volunteer to stand at the front. I say to the class, "Is she short? Of course we can see she is short. But what would tell us just how short?" Then I invite a very tall volunteer to stand next to her. "Ah, now we can see how short!"
See? Surely being in a classroom with agile and toned youngsters all day will only draw more attention to my bingo wings.
It's not only that. I'm way behind on techno-knowledge, highlighted by Year 10's amusement when I "discovered" the No Show button on our data projector remote control. I could hide what was on the screen? Eat your heart out, Captain Cook - this was a whole new world. In the end, the class sighed: "Miss, please stop clicking it on and off. You'll give us a migraine."
Also, a recent attempt to enlighten a Year 12 English language class of girls that "bachelorette" was the new term for "spinster" met with polite yawns. They had been using the word for years.
And, if only I could force myself to keep up with teenage culture and read Twilight, I would realise it wasn't just coincidence that all the main characters in Year 7's recent story-writing were called Bella and Edward.
Having said this, when I double-checked the Twilight characters' names with my 19-year-old daughter, she confirmed that they were indeed Bella and Edward, then moaned: "Oh, how I hate myself for knowing that!"
So, maybe it's not just an age thing, after all. Okay, I feel better. But a nice cup of cocoa will help, too. I'll put the kettle on.
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