Standby, and a good teacher

I’m on standby.

I don’t know where I’m gonna be sleeping tonight.

For the last hour I’ve been sitting on my sofa expecting the phone to ring at any second. It hasn’t.

This is gonna be worth it when it lands. But part of the job is patience.

There’s a photoshoot happening in East London. There’s a van at the shoot. There’s bed in the van. The bed needs to be in Birmingham at 10 tomorrow morning. Then it needs to be picked up on Friday evening and returned to London with the van. Enter muggins.

The good news is I’m gonna get a lift to the van this evening when the photoshoot winds up. The bad news is, these shoots can drag and drag and drag. Meanwhile I haven’t been given a postcode for dropping it off tomorrow morning which means I can’t plan my accommodation tonight and I can’t book my train back to London because I don’t know how far it is from the station.

There are advantages and disadvantages to working for your friends.

On balance though, I’m happy for the work. It’s just lovely to be in a position where there’s a bit too much to do.

And there goes the call. 45 minutes to pick-up. Then another 45 to the van I reckon. It’s gonna be at least two and a half hours up to Birmingham. Chances are I’ll be in bed in some terrible Travelodge by midnight. Better bring a good book. I could’ve driven up tomorrow morning, but I didn’t want to be late for drop off as I’ve got another of these workshops to run in Plumstead at lunchtime so I’m rushing straight back to London. It’s only fair on the students I’m working with that I have plenty of energy when I go into their class. Then I can focus on them and their needs. They are about to leave school and fire out into this difficult and protective world. I’m just some guy but maybe I’ll bring one or two of them an opportunity that changes their trajectory and helps them into a bit more security and comfort. They’re an interesting age group, year 11. Almost adult, but still very much institutionalised and strung to their home life. It’s hard to get them to think creatively without making them self conscious. Still I’ve been impressed the last few days with their teacher. “Are you brothers?” they all ask, as he is bespectacled and follically challenged as well, and we’re a similar age.

Walking through the corridors I see him address the students and engage with them. He’s impressively available to them. Firm when he needs to be, but somehow even after many years teaching he seems to have room in his head for every single one of them individually. He knows their names. He speaks to them on the line, without that edge of wary distance that I hear with some teachers in schools like this. I would have liked him and listened in his classes. I can see that he is loved and respected, and I can see why. Good teachers like him are gold dust. Today he spoke about his wife and how she gets paid so much more than him because of early career choices. He uses it to illustrate a point, but I can see he’s a vocational teacher. He’d be doing it anyway. Whatever he’s being paid though, it should be more. It’s people like him that will lead to a stronger economy from these confident young people entering the workforce having been HEARD when they needed it. I’ve watched him for a couple of hours only but his positivity and care seems boundless, in a tricky school.

I’m going to pack some clothes for my mystery stay.

Travelodge Stourbridge, and I’ve been in the room long enough that I can’t smell the bleach anymore. It’s just gone midnight. I’ll be fine here. And weirdly, I kinda like the random nature of all this. That’s the key. Go after what makes you happy…

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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