Today I would have been starting work. That's a complicated structure: would + have + been + starting. Most of the people I taught last year couldn't do it yet. This time last year I was starting work again, after a wet summer holiday sloshing about in orchards and watching buzzards. It was relaxing but the year was not, despite the therapy. The awfulness of it mounted till it burst into horrible flower with the news in June that my team and I, and others too were at risk of redundancy. In the middle of this summer I stared across a little village into hills and blue sky through the window where I could get mobile reception. I was calling Human Resources (such an apt name in so many ways). They confirmed that, yes, after 20 years of tooth-grinding effort, near insanity, and some joy, I was serving notice of redundancy, and my employment would terminate at the end of January.
So today was the first day, post August Bank Holiday, of what is called 'garden leave'. It means that you are sort of on hold - not going in to work, still in service, and may be called on to perform duties. We'll see if any one manages to phone me. In the meantime, as it happens I like gardening, though it still feels as if someone's looking over my shoulder.
The day started, however, thinking about cats. We've got one to feed at a near neighbours. Instead of opening a door to find some emergency or madness on my desk or in my inbox, or some stunned-looking colleagues wondering where the holidays went, I found myself opening a door to a little ginger creature. She was very demanding, but she only wanted tinned fish-blob, not something impossible.
During the rest of the day I waited for a plumber to call about the boiler (he didn't - oh well, there's always tomorrow) and had a wisdom tooth pulled out. That was quite relaxing. While I waited for the anaesthetic to work I didn't have to do anything at all, just look sideways at Hello magazine. I also went on my old college email account. Here I found an email asking me to put a job-request to a particular manager before the job could get done. I had the sad satisfaction of telling them the job had been done already, a year ago. I found another email asking for advice about an international student from someone who didn't know I had gone. The only advice I could give was to the effect that the student concerned simply needed what we could have once given - English lessons . That was last year too, though. The day ended letting the little ginger creature back into her house for more fish-blob. It's a strange new temporary routine. But all routines are temporary.