Sunday, 10 February 2013

A shameful confession

Today has, as I had hoped, been a very interesting day. I was up by 8 and out of the flat by 9, on my way to teach a lesson. I confess I took the bus; I ran a couple of miles last night far too quickly and my legs were not slow to reprimand me. The lesson that I had expected to run for three hours ran only for two, and this is where the day started to get a bit wonky.

Now last night I planned my route around my students; they live about three miles from each other and three miles from me; thus, a path from my flat to the first to the second and home is a natural triangle. I had one hour between the first and the second student and was looking forward to a genteel stroll with some music to listen to.

Now, for some reason when I left my first student's house I thought it had been three hours, and not two, and so I made my way to the second student. It had started to snow lightly, but it wasn't settling - just melting and pouring past me in the gutter. I hunched myself into my nice warm coat and hustled a little; snow is lovely until you realise at 20 miles an hour the delicate little flakes become nature's own shuriken.

The extra turn of speed provided to me by the unbroken assault of snow shaved a quarter of an hour off my journey, and before I knew it I was buzzed through to the house. The students' mother looked surprised to see me and the family were just finished dinner; I felt a little embarrassed at having arrived fifteen minutes late but was assured it wasn't a problem.

As before, I had daughter and son for an hour each and daughter seemed exceedingly keen so, beneath her mother's disapproving eye, we headed through to the study. I'd set her a couple of short essay questions to expand her writing ability and it seems she has a similarly verbose style; I'm impressed with her ability but it really doesn't leave much for me to teach. Son came next and we talked about what he studied; I had him explain atoms, the free market, and David Beckham, so I'm pretty sure the poor guy'll be even more unwilling than usual to go back to school tomorrow. They both got new and exciting essay topics and I have to say I look forward to reading them next week.

Having concluded lessons I made my way back to the kitchen where students' mother asked if next time I could come closer to three, as it was very unfair on her to have come so early. I confess I was a little put out; I had been only 15 minutes early but, I thought to myself, she's the boss.

I was halfway down the road when I looked at my watch and saw, much to my surprise, that it was only four. I was not supposed to have finished teaching until five. Had my watch stopped? Had I only taught my students for half an hour? Had -

That was when it dawned on me. That was when I located my missing hour and re-viewed the past two in my head. Considered from the students' mother's point of view:

A relatively handsome man whom she has met only once turns up an hour and fifteen minutes early, gives weak platitudes in apology and then vanishes to the study for an hour with daughter.

I could not have been more mortified. A vampire in transit passed me by completely, thinking me by my complexion already dead. Utter, awful horror washed over me. She had not been impolite in her goodbyes, merely trying to reassure herself that the man whom she had invited into her house could tell the time and had more sense than to barge in when people were having lunch.

Were I not British the upper lip might have jolly well trembled. My visible composure could have shattered but, save for a certain clammy, pallid air around the face, I remained resolutely unshattered. It was only within that the storm broke, but broke it did with wailing and gnashing of the teeth.

In any case, I struggled home, the ice that had frosted my hair and crowned me the dark-haired prince of some winter realm now melting and running down my face like the manly tears I absolutely did not shed. The heat from internal shame boiled the water and before long I was steaming inside my own jacket like King Edward. Sorry, a King Edward.

Tonight is my last night of sketch writing (until I start again tomorrow) so I'm polishing and trying not to over-word-ify. A real thing and a real danger.

I've also got a very hot pan behind me and a well seasoned steak, so it looks like aside from the minor hiccup today has been a Good Day.

If you're interested in my sketches, and want to see what it looks like when I actually try to be funny, do please let me know. I'm always keen to get feedback.