Blog News

1. Comments are still disabled though I am thinking of enabling them again.

2. There are now several extra pages - Poetry Index, Travel, Education, Childish Things - accessible at the top of the page. They index entires before October 2013.

3. I will, in the next few weeks, be adding new pages with other indexes.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

A curious sense of time not passing

As I’ve mentioned before, I used to have another blog that died from lack of attention. One of the entries that I put on it was about a Mensa* party that I went to that turned out to be uncannily similar to the same party the year before. I titled the entry “A curious sense of time not passing”.
The sharper-eyed among you will notice that this entry shares the title. In fact it applies even more aptly to how I spend my summers than it did to the party.
When I first passed my CELTA – literally on the day the course ended – I was immediately offered a summer school post at Harrow. The result was that I found myself, only one day later, standing up for the first time to teach in earnest and facing a class of mixed nationality teenagers who were expecting to have a professional teacher in front of them. After all, it’s what their parents had paid for. Somehow I muddled through and I must have done a decent job because I was asked if I’d like to come back the following year.
I’m in my eighth year here now and each time I return I’m seized by that same sense of time not passing. I see many of the same faces in the staff room, similar (and in some cases identical) faces in the classroom, the same faces in administration, on the activities staff, in the dining room and around and about on the hill.
By and large I get the same level classes and teach similar lessons in similar ways. I make the same conversation with the same people and go at the same times to the same pubs. This year I even have the same room with the same curtains, the same square of torn poster too high on the wall to remove and the same inexplicable red marks on the ceiling.
Time not passing, indeed.

Right now on the radio there is the mournful and melancholic Lord of the Rings theme that so perfectly evokes the towering grandeur of the mountains, the immense open sky, the bone-deep ancient knowledge that the world is vast and that you are too tiny to even be noticed.
But I am in a room in Harrow, a student’s room with a bed, a chair, a wardrobe, a desk and a shelf and the world doesn’t feel vast. It feels tiny – collapsed to this single point in time and space; into this sense of time not passing.

Strangely though it is accompanied by a simultaneous sense that time has passed. That great sections of my future have raced past me with the irresistible force and destructive effect of an avalanche. I had passed forty when I first came here. I’d already had one life as a computer programmer and systems analyst. Now I’ve passed fifty – but that isn’t time passing, it’s time passed; time gone; time vanished. And I find myself at a loss to work out what happened to it all because though eight years have clearly come and gone there is still only that sense, that curious sense, of time not passing.

*I'm not actually a member of Mensa, I was there as a guest of a friend who is.

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