Saturday, 28 June 2014

Two Down

Carenza, Lila and Hannah just before their prelim. exams
And finally, tonight, Carenza will be with us and our happiness will be complete.  She has finished her first year exams and has apparently been “trashed” afterwards, a process where black and white formal clothing meet with chocolate sauce and “silly string”.  This will present a laundry challenge that any promoter of washing powder might be glad to meet, but possibly a tough call for me. 
Perran and Pascoe both arrived earlier to attend my graduation, and I was much prouder of them than of the diploma in my hand.  Luckily “trashing” was not part of the scene.  They have been with Nigel and me all this week, and as ever, it’s hard to recall that it’s only a temporary state of affairs. 
Perran will soon be off travelling on a shoestring (as an undergraduate must) whereas Pascoe will return to shoulder the responsibilities of his PhD in Edinburgh. 
Carenza will have just a week with us before the boys leave.  Perhaps the only week of the summer where we’ll be a complete family.
I wonder if Carenza’s “trashing” laundry disaster will be coming with her in a plastic bag.

Even if it is, I forgive her – it will be brilliant to have her home.

Sunday, 22 June 2014


Finally, I graduated from my PGCE course. 
There was a ceremony held at the Faculty of Education.  The best thing about the day was something that none of us could have arranged no matter how hard we tried – the sun shone on the perfect lawns and cascades of roses.
 Nigel, Pascoe and Perran came along to support me and unwittingly introduced a comedy aspect to the day.  Pascoe and Perran were close in age to the other trainees while I more resembled their parents. 
How many times was it explained that day that I was the graduande, and not Pascoe?
After the speeches, the master of ceremonies asked us to applaud the families who had supported us.  The younger trainees who had perhaps received financial help and who had sometimes popped home to be pampered with proper cooking, clapped enthusiastically.
I joined in with the applause and saw both my sons looking back at me slightly quizzically.  Hadn’t I been the one supporting them in their academic endeavours?
But actually, they deserved my thanks. 
When they have returned home from University, they and their sister have cooked for Nigel and me, done their own washing, mounted war on the impressive spiders who now outnumber us.  And over and over again, they have told me they are proud of me. 
Thanks guys.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Ancient Teenagers

On Friday, the Classics PGCE students were assigned an important mission.
As prospective secondary school teachers, it was important that we understood how to introduce Classical Art to young people.
Our task was to explore the Museum of Classical Archaeology in Cambridge, and consider ways of approaching the many replicas of statues there.
We had expected semi-naked gods, goddesses and warriors, but what we actually discovered amazed us.
“The term teenager wasn’t coined until the 1950s was it?”
“I don’t think so.  Why?”
“Over there.  Look!”
“Well I never.”
What we had found was not merely a way for our pupils to relate to ancient marble sculpture – it was tangible proof that teenagers had existed far earlier than was previously thought.  The pictures confirm it:
Young discus-thrower texting
Satyr taking selfie

Saturday, 14 June 2014


“Are yours back from uni yet?” ask my friends.
Some of theirs have been back for weeks.  I feel I have to give complex explanations about why my children are not back.   And actually, it is just a matter of when their exams take place and when term ends, but even so, I feel like a bit of a Nobby-no-mates.
Then suddenly through the door appeared Perran. 
We hadn’t snapchatted for some time, because I had lost interest rather:
From them – glamorous selfies in exciting venues.
From me – worried expression in front of computer.
So when he arrived, I didn’t even recognise him – I thought we were being burgled.
Happy, happy, happy.
The novelty hasn’t worn off yet.  When there’s no hot water left in the shower, I say contentedly,
“Ah – Perran is home.”
I’ve even been road-testing the vegan recipes Elizabeth gave me and the kitchen is currently stacked with cakes that haven’t risen properly and rather cracked, dry quiches – “Look everybody - no eggs.”
For his part, he’s going to have to work hard to stand in for all three of my children - not just himself but also Pascoe (who I won’t see until next week) and Carenza (two weeks). 

I hope he doesn’t get threadbare with all the hugging, like his old teddy.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Placement Over

I try not to be superstitious, but as my PGCE placement drew to a close last week, I became increasingly worried that some disaster might stop me from successful completion.
What if I dropped a heavy bundle of textbooks on my toe and shouted out expletives that would shrivel the ears of my tender charges?
What if I contracted one of those sudden and violent stomach bugs and chundered on a Year Seven, (particularly if it was one of the girls with very long curly hair)?
What if, in trying to Google a picture of the goddess Venus for the interactive whiteboard, I accidentally clicked on an unsuitable image and accidentally taught the class something that was definitely not on the syllabus?
And that re-enactment of Odysseus putting out Cyclops’s eye could have gone horribly wrong too.
But none of this happened. 
The placement is completed.
Now I have only two weeks left in faculty before the end of my course.

But what if I get a violent stomach bug and chunder on a lecturer?  What if I drop a pile of library books on a professor’s toe?  What if I….?

Thursday, 5 June 2014

College Life

Since September, I have been undertaking a PGCE in Classics.  It would be an opportunity for a trip down memory lane and a taste of college life again after so many years.
The quiet of the library, the scent of polish in the corridors and a big cooked dinner in hall.
My children are all getting a crack at the hallowed halls of academia - why shouldn't I?
But it hasn't worked out.  The fact that I elected to live at home meant I had a marathon commute, so I didn't want to hang around in Cambridge at the end of lectures. 
And the location of the Education Faculty, a long way from the centre of town, prevented any casual revisiting of old haunts. 
And soon the course will be over. 
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had placements in wonderful schools, met literally hundreds of new people and learnt more than I knew my brain could hold. 

But perhaps I’ll allow myself to rent a room in college just for a couple of nights before the term is over, and my second chance at college life completely gone.

Sunday, 1 June 2014


On seeing my rave reviews for a student play in Cambridge (see previous blog – Exclusive Club), Carenza told me indignantly that the plays at Oxford were just as good. An appropriate piece was coming up – Bluestockings about the pioneers of women’s education. 
It was half term, so I was able to get to Oxford and I would meet Carenza just after her tutorial when she would naturally be taking a break anyway.   Great timing.
So great that we missed the fact that Bluestockings had actually been in performance the week before and was over.
What would we do now?
A student version of Frankenstein offered, with a devised script. 
“And devised means?”
“Means they made it up.”
The other thing I discovered about devised scripts is that they take quite a long time to perform.
But it was a true student play – they had tried stuff out and much of it had worked. 
Frankenstein meets We Need to Talk about Kevin.
But what I most enjoyed were the passages of high drama.  As the young actors lost themselves in the moment, their lovely posh accents, previously played-down, reasserted themselves.
Frankenstein meets Made in Chelsea.