On one of the very few occasions this year so far, I took a mug of coffee and 4 custard creams to sit in the sun in the quad during lunch time. A few of my colleagues were there, too. I took a bench, sitting away from them on adjacent benches.
The wind was light; the watery sun tentatively touched my face like a timid dog uncertainly of my friendliness with its searching tongue; the noises of the children were distant. I sat in a pansies mood, not entirely unhappy or particularly elated, just meditative.
“I’ve run out of energy,” I told myself. After more than 10 years of teaching, and nearly 10 years of churning out of excellent exam results year after year, I felt run down. I felt uninspired. I felt I could give up teaching if I didn’t have the pressure of paying off the mortgage, car loans and many other bills.
“You are looking all very calm over there, Vincent,” a colleague noticed.
“No, I was just thinking that I’d had enough of teaching.” They laughed.
Then our conversation turned into one of those that we’d been having over the years, year after year, and always concluded with no real actions – running a bookshop-cum-cafe-cum-whatever. I always got the job as front of the house.
“If I could get a fully-funded PhD at Cambridge with a bit of teaching for their teacher training courses, I would be happy to return,” I shared with thought with them. “Oh, I am not clever enough,” they chimed, one after another. Then we returned to the idea of bookshop-stroke-coffee shop only to rethink as Amazon was killing off bookshops.
This afternoon was no exception, as we were reheating the old recipe, the bell pierced straight through our lukewarm daydream and snapped us back to reality.
“What you’ve got now?”
Then we dutifully filed back inside the building.
The wind landed on the flowerbed in the middle of the quad where here used to be rose blossoms but now covered in wood chips. A lone red poppy limped on the edge of the border. I looked at the cherry tree, now in leaf, and noticed the thickening trunk of the young silver birch.
It’s summer time, and after years of inspiring young people, I was feeling uninspired.