Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Work 1

Thank you, kind commenters. I am now able to post this picture of Daughter 2 and Sirius having a little nap. They are both talented nappers, though Daughter 2 is sometimes very busy. Unlike Sirius.

Philip Larkin, the curmudgeonly English poet who died in 1985, wrote a poem called “Toad” in which he complained about having to work. It begins

Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can’t I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?

He was latterly the head librarian of Hull University. My job isn’t nearly so elevated but at this stage of term, work for me is all-consuming. Classes are big, students are being diligent with homework and we have to create schedules of relevant work for them. I teach some straight English, but also teach Communication – practical English – to students of computing, hairdressing, film, art and so on. When I say “relevant” I mean that I have to find reading material and writing tasks suitable for the subjects they’re studying. I never stop for lunch and always spend coffee breaks answering emails and phone calls.

I don’t mind this; I do actually like my work. But what I don’t like is doing it in the evenings and weekends. Yesterday was an Edinburgh holiday and I spent most of it working. Marking is the worst. That’s when my job seems like that warty toad, crouching heavily on my back and sucking my life away.

(Still, there are compensations such as this essay, beginning: To me the British monarchy is an embolism of disrespect and tertiary power.)

Some day soon I hope to be back commenting on your blogs.


  1. Love the poem - my sentiments exactly. In fact, I think I might have to print that out and post it on my office door. I'm so sick of marking... only 8 1/2 months to go in the school year. sigh.

  2. Well, dear Isabelle, I wish your schedule could be a little easier, but there are benefits for us....bring on the humorous and poorly written essays -- they always provide such excellent blog fodder!

    And hugs to your Mum too -- I hope things are getting back to normal with her. Hubby just told me over the weekend that our visit with her was one of the his favorite parts of our trip last year!

  3. Okay, I just have to ask. What is the relevant reading you find for hairdressing students? Inquiring minds want to know.

  4. Students must provide endless entertainment. Though, I am sure not all of it is enjoyable...


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