Banana to the rescue

I try to sleep sensibly the night before teaching. I almost always fail. There is always some last little bit of reading to do, and before it can be done there is the whole breadth of the internet to explore. On good weeks I annotate the key points from the texts in tidy blue rows marching down the page, marshalled by dashes and dots, and continue with a plan for the seminars. It almost feels like writing out a framework for what should be sitting in my student’s heads when they leave, but built and furnished with their own thoughts. On bad weeks I frame my lesson plan while listening to the lecture immediately before it, sending mental support to my colleague as he projects up to a hundred students on rising tiers of seats, explaining, summarising, indicating where else to read. Some weeks I don’t even have the energy for that.

Last week was not a good week.

The night before a teaching day, so late that only snoring is heard from upstairs, I patter around the kitchen part-assembling my breakfast. Coffee and water go in the little espresso maker – you know the kind, the aluminium one with the crook handle that gets more pitted and scorched with age, and produces steadily better coffee – and it goes on the stove ready for a fire to click into life under it. If there is food that can be lunch, it gets decanted into a box or a bag. I set the measuring jug and my thermos next to the hot water boiler. In the morning, on a good week, I will remember to make the tea in the measuring jug and pour it into the thermos, and so soothe my talking-weary voice during that tricky third seminar.

On a not-good week, I make for the tube station without time for porridge and find the Underground standing still for someone else’s misfortune at another station. On a not-good week, I sit with itchy eyes in a narrow seat, crabbit and overcome with sleepiness. On a not-good week, some students seem to need spoonfeeding while others are already leaping ahead, demanding challenges. The dismal beating silence between contributions expands, and I am too dry-throated and dust-brained and tired to exhort more discussion.

I meet my fellow tutor on our way out. ‘How d’you find it today?’ ‘Ach, kinda grim, but that might be because I’m worried about other stuff’. ‘Aye, mine too. And me too. Money’s kinda tight. I’d say we should go to the pub, but I’m honestly too hard up’

We grin in morbid understanding for a moment and say cheery-despite-it-all goodbyes on our way home to finally eat lunch. (It being a not-good week financially, too, I’m also too hard up to buy a canteen meal). He heads out the door, then comes back in. ‘I’ll stand you a half. Come on’.

Across the road from the pub, there is a pound-a-bowl stand outside a shop. I count out the coins in my wallet. ‘I’m going to get some bananas or I’ll fucking well keel over’. Twenty, twenty, twenty, ten ten ten, five five. Just enough for seven jolly-coloured fruit, and four pence left to me. I hand him one and peel one for myself and we eat them so fast we barely break our stride through the pub door as we throw the skins in the bin outside.

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 1:09 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Bananas are the best emergency food.

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