A pinch and a punch and the first of the month and no returns.
Yesterday was strange because it was my last official day as an employee at Hardacre Collage. Arguably it was even stranger in that I wasn't there and hadn't been since April. From then till yesterday was a period called 'garden leave'. In fact even if I hadn't been on garden leave, I wouldn't have been there because I had an abscess on a wisdom tooth. This is not interesting or pleasant of itself, but there was a cosmic pun as a booby prize. Maybe the universe organises itself sometimes to occasion feeble jokes, though I doubt it. Anyway the tooth came out - at 2.30.
Today, by some sort of contrast, I went north in a straight line up the A666 in an ironed shirt and proper shoes towards Hardacre Collage. Just like the old days - except that it was 10.30 and I planned to be home again by lunchtime. I was also carrying a folder with a form in it. A boring form. The very last boring form.
There it all was, hardly changed. Rogers Pets sadly now has an apostrophe, which means the words above his shop mean the pets are his, not that he has carnal relations with them. The opticians, though, still advertises its 'full domiciliary service' for those with dictionaries who need eye tests at home. There may be cuts, but it's good to see people still splashing out on syllables. The phone box a little further on looks more broken and held together by red paint than ever, but it still offers - improbably but wonderfully - email and text. I've never tried it, but I guess it's one of those unassuming portals to other worlds. If you can get the door open, you will no doubt find you are actually in the internet rather than just on it. And of course there was the spot where my stalker, van man, copped it.
On the walk back again, minus my form and plus my final payment, I had a lot to think about. Everyone had been as friendly and talkative as ever, and could well imagine I was sleeping better despite the uncertainty. Those not constrained by an official capacity all said the same thing, which for fear of litigation - despite Hardacre Collage being imaginary - I will not repeat. Dave from Repro summed something up repeatably though, with reference to those charged with and handsomely remunerated for 'leadership' of the collage. "It's all gone now - and they never knew they had it in the first place." Team spirit, of course, fellow feeling if you prefer.
The Lagoon Fish Bar? A cracked window but obviously busy. The betting shop? No change Piece-a Pizza? Evidently gone bust (the fish shop next door does pizza anyway). The charity shop? Still offering other people's shoes. The Indian place? As shut looking as it was from the beginning. The coin-in-the-slot sunbed place? Still taking your coins if you want skin cancer. Toni's Barbering? Only Toni there, on the phone. Reptiles To Go? Hard to tell - you could never see in anyway. And then I was at the roundabout and the overpass, thinking about what Dave had said.
On the other side is a big sycamore. The bird's nest was still there, though not occupied yet. I remember when it was - by a crow. She sat there one spring, day after day, in wind, rain and sun. Passing underneath in the mornings, I always wanted to take her a cup of tea.
So anyway, that was my glittering career in Further Education. Let's see what spring brings. By the way, it's clearly too late to save my job, but you could sign a petition to get my students some lessons. Go to
http://www.gopetition.com/petition/41552.html Many thanks, come back soon.