Reasons why Fran was glad to wake up this morning
That makes it sound as though it's our personal graveyard. You know, like people say, 'the garage behind our house' or 'the shed at the bottom of the garden'.
'Oh, yes, our personal graveyard. Yes, yes, we own it all - the stones, the coffins, the skeletons, the wilted flowers, the worms. One day we too will lie there. We are like wealthy aristocrats who have a sepulchre set aside for when they pass away, only ours is conveniently just behind our house. Our grieving relatives will be able to lob us over the garden wall when the time comes.'
No, it's nothing like that. It's an old Victorian graveyard our house happens to overlook. If you try to ignore the graves, you could imagine it as a lovely park with lawns and trees, but that's a hard ask, like saying, 'Here, have this chocolate cake covered in flies, but just ignore the flies.'
I don't know why I'm telling you this because I came here to write down a dream I had but an hour ago. And it's one I often have - a recurring dream. If you've read my book 'Being Miss' this will seem like familiar ground.
But what does it all mean?!
1. I'm walking through the corridors of Hampton School in West London where I used to teach 15 years ago. I'm there as a supply teacher. The corridors are littered with discarded food. Sausage rolls, mainly. Flaky pastry is everywhere, banked up against the walls, like leaves that have been swept aside. I'm shocked. It was never like this in 2005.
2. I walk into the classroom. There is my old class of 15 year old boys. I say 'Good morning' and they quieten. All is going well. I say, 'I hope that mess in the corridors is nothing to do with you' and one begins to tell me about the sausage roll fight they had at break. I put my hand up and say, 'I don't want to hear it.' I leave them a task: write a list of ways the corridors could be kept cleaner. I leave the room while they do this.
3. When I come back, ten minutes later, another teacher is at the desk - a man. He has written all over the whiteboard so there's no room for my own teaching notes. 'Can I rub this off?' I say and he says no. I wonder how I'm going to teach the lesson.
4. It's at this point I lose my voice.
5. I decide to use the desk computer but when I approach it and touch the keyboard, I realise that the computer, the surrounding desk and all the books and papers on it are layered with a thin film of wet food - something like beans and tomato sauce. It's tacky and glutinous. I back away in disgust, wipe my fingers, and say to a boy at the front, 'There's no way I'm touching that.'
6. The other teacher has gone now. I try to run a class discussion about the class's cleaning ideas, my voice hoarser and hoarser. They can't hear me. I have to keep walking up to certain boys to reprimand them with a wagging finger for talking over me. Some of them have written nothing at all and I jab at their books, but they laugh.
7. I ask another boy, only he turns out to be a girl, to share ideas. She is saying something about her Drama lessons - nothing to do with cleaning corridors - but I can't hear her properly. This is because she doesn't have a voice either, she says.
8. I recruit Richard, who is now not 15 but an old man with jowls, wearing a very smart grey suit, like an expensive lawyer, to lead the class discussion for me. He used to be articulate and reliable. Today, he too can only whisper, doesn't appear to know what I want from him, and proves useless as a deputy. I ask him to sit down.
9. I don't know what to do. Who can help? The class is getting out of control.
10. I wake up, thankful that it's all over.
The recurring dream features are the class out of control, the loss of voice, the inability to use the computer, and the arrival of another teacher.
Not that teaching makes me anxious, or anything.
The sausage rolls and sticky beans in tomato sauce are new - and alarming - features. I'll be glad if they're a one-off.
However, in this dream, at least I had my clothes on.
|No! NOT nice!|