Two pens today.
It occurred to me the other day that, post-teaching, I never now speak to anyone of a different race; not even to someone of a different nationality. This isn't deliberate - it's just the way things are. My friends and neighbours are mainly Scottish, only a few even anything as exotic as English. At college, in contrast, we had lots of foreign students. Now I'm living in a little bubble of white Scots. A very little bubble.
This struck me the other day when there was a chap called Mohammed interviewed on the news, and I thought of some of the very many Mohammeds I'd taught. And lots of other students from all over the world: Poland and Slovakia and Zimbabwe and Malawi and Germany and Brazil and Russia and Japan and China and Malasia and ... not many Americans and I don't remember anyone from Iceland, but such a diverse selection of students over the years. And I felt rather sad that it's all over; and yet very privileged to have met and talked to and taught them all. They taught me a lot too.
They were mainly, though not exclusively, young people. And apart from the family, my daily life is currently pretty short of young people as well, or at least reasons to talk to young people. It's not that I have anything against those who aren't young. But my world has narrowed. We had many students with disabilities, too: some in wheelchairs, some with sight or hearing impairment, some with learning difficulties. Again, there's no one like that in our little street and again, I feel very blessed to have taught them and maybe helped them a bit. I feel immeasurably enriched by the experience.
I really didn't appreciate all this quite so much while it was happening as I do now. I took it for granted. But now I think - wow, how lucky, how interesting.
I've always been amused, though, by those who scoff at the narrowness of the outlook of someone who's gone from school to university to teacher training college and then spent a life in teaching. You meet huge numbers of people from such a vast array of backgrounds if you're a teacher in public education.
Life's simpler now in many ways. But duller.